Are you known for making a commitment to yourself to do what it takes to achieve your life purpose, no matter what? No U-turns – just straight ahead? What are you waiting for?
How committed are you to achieving what matters to you most? Are you known for your level of commitment? Is it often acknowledged as one of your strengths? Are you one that “makes things stick”? How often do you give yourself credit for your commitment? And how do you handle when “it doesn’t stick”?
What’s this “making a commitment” thing?
It is this “making it stick” that I’d like to explore together with you today. I believe making a commitment to be a logical addition to the recent blog topics of Patience, Chutzpah and Discipline as evidenced by Zig Ziglar’s quote: “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us to action and discipline that enabled us to follow through“.
I found a few definitions of commitment, like: a promise, a future (financial) obligation or contingent liability, an obligation. To me making a commitment is “making a promise to ourselves to do what it takes to achieve an outcome, no matter what”.
“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results“.
I also loved the story of the chicken and the pig comparing notes in conversation about their contribution to the food chain, where the pig recognized that whilst the chook made an egg available, it was “involved”, whilst if the pig made its bacon available, it was “committed”.
Fear and making a commitment
Why then is it that so many people experience “that sinking feeling” when they are asked or they feel that they need to make a commitment? Could it be that “fear of failure” we all wrestle with from time to time? You know, when our left brain mind chatter interferes with a perfectly good plan and convinces us that there are too many risks of “having a go” and setting ourselves up for failure – that it is much “safer” to resist the making of that commitment and remain wallowing in that “safety zone” where we can neither experience victory nor defeat?
Or perhaps we may be reacting negatively to feeling that sometimes a commitment is “expected” of us or perhaps even “imposed” upon us?
You know that I believe anything worthwhile starts with it being visualized in one’s mind first, then followed up with setting a clear goal, a decision being made and finally the commitment to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Mapping out a plan of all the activities and steps and resources required accompanies any good initiative, including the identification of necessary measurable Milestones so that we don’t wait until close to the end of the initiative to realize we might not make it, right? Project Management 101.
How often have we “made a decision” to do something only to find a week later that we still haven’t got around to starting it? For me that was always a good indicator that I hadn’t actually committed to that decision; that I had allowed myself to practice Procrastination. That can have many causes, often to be found in The Price and the Prize being out of balance or one not enjoying the task or perhaps even that we are simply over committed.
In today’s work and growth pressure environment, it is quite easy to over commit oneself, isn’t it? We want to always be better; always growing; always “raising your game” (or feeling that is expected of us) and quite often and quite easily bite off more than we can chew, thereby creating unnecessary pressure and stress. Would you agree with me that this is more often than not our own doing? That we perhaps try to set and maintain impossible standards, setting ourselves up to fail, and think that we are then obliged to deliver?
Making it stick
Just over two years ago I decided that I would write and publish a blog article each week. I figured out “why” I wanted to do that (as in what purposes it should serve) and then made a personal commitment (to me) and a public commitment (to you) to do that. And then I just got on with doing just that – every week, as per the commitment. Now in those 100+ weeks, I think I missed less than a handful. Why am I sharing this with you? Because it is a good example of all I have been talking about above. Do I beat myself up when I missed one (like I did last week)? Nope. Why? Because “life happens” and overall I’m happy with my track record of having made the commitment stick. Make sense?
A spiritual perspective
I love what Goethe so famously said centuries ago: “until one is committed, there is hesitance, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness”. But then he added: “Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no person could have dreamed would come their way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”. Sage advice indeed.
In my blog The blue Honda I speak of the Law of Attraction, which is also mysteriously connected to the forces that are unleashed when we “make a commitment”.
And so we arrive at this customary question once more. So what if we are committed or not?
I guess it comes down to what really matters to you. Not the trivial day to day things that we need to deal with, or respond or react to; or the things we might dramatize in order to fulfill our need for significance, although it is quite easy to fill our day with this “stuff”, isn’t it?
No, I’m talking here about visions or dreams or goals that inspire you – that raise your heart rate that can lead to your experiencing Goosebumps and galvanize you into magnificent action.
So what if you took the trouble to reflect on what some of those “purpose” type things in your life’s work might be, and highlight just a few that you know will make a difference in your life, a difference in the lives of those around you and those that you feel responsible for? You know – some things that really matter to you?
What if you picked just one of those and made a true commitment to visualizing, planning and mapping out what it might take to set in motion whatever it would take to achieve the outcomes you really want? What if after all that planning you made a real commitment to “doing whatever it takes” to achieve it? You know – a real decision around a real goal?
And what if you might feel a little stretched out of your comfort zone by that and feel somewhat unsure of how to go about “making that stick”? What if you then engaged a coach to guide you to defining the what, work with you to map out the plan, remind you of the why, be your sounding board to set up the how and then hold you accountable to “making it stick”?
What might happen if you did? What if you could?