Questions to ask before making a commitment

January 23, 2014
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

Palika Kohli

You’re in university. You’re brand new, you’ve been here a while (because let’s be real—every undergraduate year is the equivalent of at least five regular years) or you’re about to leave. But whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever point you’re at – you’ve got to make a decision. And the question remains: to commit or not to commit?

Because even though you’re in university and are on your way to becoming an adult, basically everyday is prefaced with a question mark. And, well, you’re in university (and while I think I’ve established this fact, it’s well worth repeating). So, somehow you have to try to find an answer to your daily question while also keeping up with a mountain of schoolwork and juggling your social life, your sleep schedule, and any job commitments you might have. Opportunity abounds – all that’s left is for you to determine whether or not it’s worth taking it.

As someone who has often been accused of over-committing, I present to you, in no particular order, some of my own considerations on deciding whether or not to make a commitment:

1. Do you have the time?

Now, this may seem really obvious, but you’ve got to look at your own work habits and priorities. Maybe your schedule isn’t that full, but the only thing that gets you through the week is every Thursday night out at Snooty’s with your roommates, and that’s when the commitment takes place. Or maybe you only get things done when your schedule is already full, and so adding one more thing will actually make you more productive.

2. Are you passionate about it?

For some people, this is pretty much the only truly important consideration. For others, if it doesn’t add to their resume, then it’s not high priority. Neither of these ways of thinking can be called wrong, but in my experience, I tend to do a way better job if I actually personally care about the work involved. And this doesn’t mean I find every part of the job meaningful, but it does mean that I find the ultimate point of the endeavour worthwhile.

3. Do you need it?

Have you answered your aforementioned daily question? Do you have at least a general idea of the direction you’re headed in? It could be that you don’t have any clue, in which case it might be a good idea to join something that is potentially “unnecessary.” Or maybe it’s your last couple of years, and you know exactly where you want to be once you graduate, and so you have to make a judgment call based on the state of your resume.

4. What do you hope to gain from it?

Do your expectations align with the reality of the commitment? Have you envisioned yourself accomplishing goals that may not be so feasible outside of your imagination? Is there a lot of grunt work involved? Or maybe it’s a huge commitment – one that can detract from another commitment. You need to decide the potential worth, and this can involve some research and realistic thinking on your part.

5. Is it a long-term role?

Some commitments explicitly require that you take on a contract of more than just one school year. This is especially true with research, or if you’re working with a sensitive group that requires stability and consistency in terms of your presence. So, you’ll have to schedule your future accordingly. It can also be implicit – for example, you might take on a smaller role and envision yourself as the president of the club by the time you’ve reached your fourth year. If this is the case, it’s not only important to adjust your commitments, but to also to into consideration: why do you consider this role to be so important? If you’re uncertain about where you want to be in the next few years, this might be a great indication.

6. Check where the commitment falls on your hierarchy of values.

Sometimes commitments aren’t about leadership roles or your future. They can be about relationships – like planning a date night with your significant other once a week, or calling your grandmother every few days. Or it can be more personal, like actually making it to the gym and identifying the point in the day that you are most likely to actually go. This last sort of commitment is often the hardest kind, because the only person you will let down if you fail to honour the commitment is yourself.

7. Have you recognized that maybe it won’t work out?

Sometimes you have to commit a lot of time and effort to something like an interview or a dense application process, and it’s important to understand that you may not even get the role you’re applying for. In this case, you must evaluate the worth you applying, because not only does the amount of effort you put in determine the quality of your application, but it will also make you consider whether the time you will take up in your application or preparing for your interview will be worthwhile.



  • Alexandra Reilly is a third-year communications student and has been writing for the Silhouette for two years. She started her career in sports writing as a weekly volunteer and covering women's volleyball in her second year. Now she works as the assistant sports editor of the paper and hopes to one day work in sports media and broadcasting.

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