6 Commitments to Maintain Momentum with New Projects

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless.” ~Pema Chodron

I always wanted to travel to exotic places. When I received an all-expenses-paid invitation to Bangkok after a conference accepted a paper I wrote, I jumped at the chance to go.

I brought my camera and lugged it around in an oversize fanny back worn backwards. Looking like a dork is a small price for the opportunity to catch the wonder of a moment.

The conference became a yearly event, and the overseas flights provided time to reread the Canon manual for umpteenth time. My mind is a sieve for numbers and buttons that require complex mathematical equations performed in an instant. I’m lucky to catch a great shot one-tenth of the time.

Most times I stick to photographing sumptuous statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I am willing to wait hours for a shaft of light to strike them just so. Then I take a ridiculous numbers of shots just in case.

I’m not a techie, but this pursuit keeps butting me up against long lists of directions on computer screens with hieroglyphics that could make decoding an Egyptian tomb look easy.

While compiling my first photographic book I vowed to keep my cool at the computer. No ranting or raving at the keyboard; none of the usual expletives or threats to decimate the motherboard. I got more done than I ever could have imagined.

Now the ante has been upped with my second book on Guanyin, a female deity capable of the greatest love under the direst circumstances. But has she ever faced the endless void of interminable options on the Internet without the hope of a human touch?

In a moment’s notice, she can shift shapes to lift us out of a tough situation and firmly plant our feet on the road to enlightenment—or Kansas if necessary.

Guanyin inspired me to make a second promise to myself: to be kind to every person I encounter—even after days of questing for a techie to solve problems that I’m incapable of describing without using phrases like “what-cha-ma-call-it” or “thing-a-ma-jig.”

I knew that I could occasionally come across as brash when I asserted myself. That made this second commitment essential for my effectiveness.

I am also learning to befriend my brain when it forgets passwords and other web mantras, which can easily test my promises (to keep my cool and be kind to everyone). Isn’t it funny how some people can remember every detail of a loaded conversation but not the sequence to a link?

Nevertheless I’m doing whatever is necessary to successfully publish this next book and keep my commitment to the compassionate path. No matter what emotional storm is looming, I’ve learned to subdue the overwhelming winds of doubt and sidestep hails of self-criticism without taking it out on anybody else—most of the time.

If you’re also embarking on a creative project, you may find these commitments helpful:

1. Generosity

Giving sometimes means shape shifting. I hated the thought of not being a “do-gooder’ and becoming a “businessperson.” Yet keeping track of the bottom line is the only way to make a book happen. Giving up my attachment to a lofty persona is doing my project good—and my project will do good for others.

Commitment: Give up who you think you are. It’s the most compassionate gift you have to offer. Open yourself to multiple identities. Plunge into the bottomless well of possibilities.

2. Discipline

Birthing a book requires many weekends staring at a glowing screen while your friends are out hiking.  I’ve learned to become a disciple of my deeper passion to share the beauty of the world with as many people as possible. It’s a different kind of fun.

Commitment:  Just do it. Do it whenever, wherever, and however, and as best you can. Do it again if necessary. It usually is. Share wholeheartedly, and self-correct as needed. 

3. Patience

Patience isn’t so much a virtue, as an opportunity to look closer and appreciate the details of a situation. It’s actually a way to befriend yourself and others. With patience, we see the good intention beneath the twisted route we often take in seeking to fulfill our dreams.

Commitment:  Befriend the crooked path. Wait with curiosity. See frustration as an opportunity to find alternative solutions. See the good intention behind a fiasco.

4. Energy

I use to think of myself as lazy. No more. I want to see my book done well because I know my work will have a positive impact. Yoda says to align with the force. We are the force.

Commitment: Trust that you have all the vigor you need to accomplish tasks aligned to your truth. Touch into your heart’s longing, and your efforts will be expressions of love.

5. Tranquility

My teacher often says, “Rest in the nature of mind.” The key words here are rest, nature, and mind.  Recharge daily with nourishing doses of tranquility and appreciation. Befriend the beauty of your own nature.

Commitment:  Learn to meditate or deepen your practice. One of the best how-to books is Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. It’s practical and accessible.

6. Wisdom

Good decisions and kind acts flow out of the wisdom we gain through practicing generosity, discipline, patience, energy, and tranquility. Each time I mess up, I have an opportunity to deepen in wisdom by gently reflecting on my actions and state of mind.

Commitment: Open your heart to everything you encounter on the crooked path. It’s less straight but more true. Peace will flow from the compassion and joy you discover each day. 

Make these commitments to yourself and you’ll have abundant fuel for your own inspired journey.

Photo by Tom Chandler

About Deborah Bowman

Deborah Bowman is a psychologist, professor and author of The Luminous Buddha and soon to be released The Female Buddha: Discovering the Heart of Liberation and Love. See photos and follow her blog at The Female Buddha.

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  • Laura

    Straightforward and clear. This, I’m printing out as a commitment to pull in my vision of a new path. Thank you.

  • Thank you Deborah! Your ideas and encouragement mean so much to me, as the book I’m working on has gotten to a stage that feels like just “slogging through.” Your tips will help me keep going!

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  • Thanks so much for letting me know these commitments are helpful to you.  We need each other even as we blaze our own trails.  Blessings on your journey.

  • One more thought on slogging through…it seems like that is when we need each other the most.

  • Lovely reminders, Deborah! Thank you.

    I love your statement: “Give up who you think you are. It’s the most compassionate gift you have to offer. Open yourself to multiple identities.” And I think I’ll give myself a dose of that every day this week.Best wishes with your second book, too!

  • Thanks so much for letting me know specifically what is helpful to you.  It’s so helpful to me!

  • This is really beautiful:

    Give up who you think you are. It’s the most compassionate gift you have to offer. Open yourself to multiple identities. Plunge into the bottomless well of possibilities.

    This is a huge struggle for me right now, and I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms before!

  • Thanks for sharing your struggle and how these words touch you.  I’m so glad to know I can touch someone in new ways that are different from my old identity.  Blessings.

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  • The same commitment that Kelly talks about was the one that hit me the most. I haven’t had a really good ‘send shivers up your spine’ moment lately. That point gave me one! A new way to think, to move forward, to grow…thanks!

  • Jeannie

    Thanks  Deborah,  I hear about the “commitments” and know that actually living the “commitments” is an ongoing process – a place to be with – again and again! Go you!  You sound like you are doing just that and encouraging many other people. 

    I work with people who live and thrive with even the most profound suffering with dignity, grace, tenderness and courage. I recently wrote a book called : Evolve with Trauma: Become you own safe, compassionate and wise friend.   You might be interested in follwing my links a  or  to multiple papers and resources, including my blog.  I wish you the very best with honoring your ongoing creativity. Light and laughter to you. Jeannie from Australia

  • Els

    Thanks Deborah, very wise.

  • Dear Jeanie,
    Thanks so much for your encouragement.  And the emphasis on the ongoing process of reaffirming commitments!

  • Feisal Rahimtoola

    Am I oversold on the six points? I have saverd it in my documents. Feisal Rahimtoola

  • I am thrilled the 6 commitments are as significant to you as they have been to me.

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  • Thanks for the reminders Deborah!

    I especially like: 

    #2: Discipline

    You can’t overthink it, or wait for the “perfect” moment. Like NIKE says, Just DO IT! 

    #6: Wisdom.

    “Each time I mess up, I have an opportunity to deepen in wisdom by gently reflecting on my actions and state of mind.” So true. Keep an open mind, learn from your experiences and let it flow. 🙂

    Also, have you read “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky? If not, I highly recommend it! 

    It’s a great book for anyone who’s looking to push their ideas and projects forward. It has some great tips (i.e. The Action Method), and stories (i.e. Disney’s 3 screening rooms), on leadership and productivity. I’ve definitely learned and benefited from it. 🙂

    Best wishes for your second book!


  • Thanks so much for your specific feedback and thoughts on Discipline and Wisdom.  It’s great to hear what moves you!  And thanks for the tip on Making Things Happen.

  • One of the biggest things I have been finding with new projects is resistance whether it shows up as fear or procrastination or something else. I blog about my experiences with this here’s my last post 

  • Jamie,
    Thanks so much for your response.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  We’re doing a blog invitational at
    join us in writing your heart out in response to inspirational quotes and images.

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