BSU Communication Professor Heidi Reeder wants you to commit to what’s right for you
By Liza Long
The word “commitment” often conjures up images of diamond rings and happily-ever-aftering—or the alternative, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s painfully public “conscious uncoupling,” But commitment is actually much more complex than we think, and what we don’t know about the subject may actually be keeping us from success. That’s the premise behind Heidi Reeder’s book Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals, from Hudson Street Press. The book targets people who are interested in personal and professional development, which describes pretty much everyone.
Reeder, a Communication professor at Boise State University, became intere
sted in the subject of commitment when she came across some groundbreaking studies as part of her academic research. “My passion is to take scholarship and translate it into something the rest of us can appreciate,” she told me when we met to discuss her new book at Flying M Coffeehouse one rainy spring afternoon. “It’s very rare that we can actually predict success in things like this. But with commitment, we know that certain factors lead to positive outcomes.”
Reeder stresses that pop-culture notwithstanding, commitment is about muchmore than just personal relationships. “It’s about goals,” she says. “Why do we commit to a goal? A career? An organization? And how do we create commitment?” She explored those questions in a Blue Review essay about popular Boise State University football coach Chris Petersen’s decision to leave the blue turf for the University of Washington. “As circumstances change, our level of commitment can slowly decline,” she wrote.
“There are myths that get us into trouble,” Reeder told me, noting that our idea of commitment as a one-time event is completely wrong. “Commitment is a continuing process; it’s not a one-time thing. Also, we have this idea that commitment occurs at the beginning of a process, when in fact it’s the end-result of several factors that line up for success.” Because of these prevalent myths, Reeder believes we often commit to the wrong things, causing heartache and failure. “We stay with things that aren’t good for us because we talk ourselves into believing we don’t have choice,” she says.
“Committing to the right thing is the ultimate freedom.”—Heidi Reeder, BSU Communication professor and author of Commit to Win.
Reeder was a 2007 Carnegie Foundation professor of the year, recognizing her achievements in the classroom. She completed her B.A. in communication at the University of Oregon and went on for an M.A. from Stanford and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. She is a content-expert blogger at PsychologyToday.com. She pitched her idea for a book on commitment directly to her publisher at the Idaho Writers Rendezvous in 2012—and now, two years later, her book is available wherever books are sold. You can check her website, www.heidireeder.com, for more information about book signings and other special events.
Reeder learned a lesson or two about the opportunity costs of commitment while writing her book last year. “Commitment sometimes means giving up things that matter to you,” she said. “I had to give up some things I loved—theater and tennis—so that I would have time to write the book. Sometimes you can’t have a completely balanced life. But committing to the right thing is the ultimate freedom—it’s what gives your life meaning and value. Make the right choice, then go all in.”