Advertising
Advertising

How to Commit and Change Your Life

How to Commit and Change Your Life

Achieving even the simplest of goals requires us to learn the meaning of commitment.  Throughout our life, we are reminded of commitment, whether it’s related to personal or business goals, and we realize that without committing, we can’t achieve anything.

When you think about it, everything you ever achieved sprouted from a commitment you made; whether it’s your children, your degree, your job, or even your house.Learning how to commit is not simply about making commitments, however, it’s about keeping those commitments in the face of foreseen and unforeseen hurdles.

Here are a few of my favorite tips that will help you Get “Commit” Right & Change Your Life:

#1 Don’t be involved, commit!

Doing things half @$$ed is the mother of everything that can go wrong.

“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”

When you want your project to succeed, you invest yourself in it fully. Why? Because you can’t afford to only be involved; being involved means you’re not committed enough, and if you’re not committed enough, that thing you’ve been working on, won’t see the light of day. Don’t chicken out.

Advertising

You can’t work on several things at the same time and expect excellent results. Make sure you’re doing one thing, and you’re investing all you’ve got.

#2 If you won’t learn how to commit, someone else will!

There’s someone out there who knows everything you know and they’re probably not alone.

“Competing in sports has taught me that if I’m not willing to give 120 percent, somebody else will. “ Ronald Mark Blomberg (Boomer)

We live in a highly-competitive environment and truth be told, it’s exhausting. So what are you going to do? Are you going to quit? Probably not, but why? You’re wired to keep on fighting—every time you think you’ve reached rock bottom, you connect to an inner mechanism based on millions of years of evolution whose sole purpose is keeping us alive. It can be either by running and hiding so you’ll be able to fight another day, or by making you fight tooth and nail to get what you need.

You probably heard about this fight-or-flight instinct.

In fight-or-flight mode, your pupils dilate, your heart rate goes up, and blood pressure increases with the purpose of getting more oxygen into your brain and muscles. This response allows you to give much more in a competitive environment… but guess what? the same happens inside the other guy’s body. That’s why the one who’s more committed will be the last one standing.

Advertising

#3 Never give up, never give in!

Quitting is also a lesson; a really expensive lesson, if you ask me. You pay for that lesson with the time you lost, the energies you invested, and a major blow to your ego. However, sometimes you find yourself with your back to the wall and you need to take drastic measures to save the day.

Sun Tzu (the ancient Chinese author of The Art of War called it “desperate ground”:

“Throw your soldiers into positions fro whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight.  If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.” Sun Tzu

Do you know why people quit? There are 3 major reasons:

  • Perfectionism.
  • Lack of faith.
  • General inability to keep commitments due to a history of failures.

All three are bound to each other. The more you fail, the less committed you become. If you’re less committed, you have less faith. If you don’t have faith in what you’re doing, every non-perfect condition can break your resolution. It’s that simple.

Fight Perfectionism, fight lack of faith (whether in you or in others) and fight history to stop it from repeating itself!

Advertising

“Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never. Never—in anything great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Sir Winston Churchill

#4 Free your mind, and the rest will follow!

Once you’re committed to something, your mind becomes like a homing beacon. There are no more choices to be made, just a focus on the target in front of your eyes—smooth sailing.

“The resolved mind hath no cares. “ George Herbert

But what happens when you suddenly change your mind? When the choice you’ve made is no longer as attractive as you previously imagined it would be?

According to Neo (Matrix), choice is the problem.

You know of course what I’m talking about; that thought that you could’ve made a different choice, or as Neo said in the first Matrix “Why didn’t I take the blue pill”. That’s why when you make a choice, weigh it heavily, commit, and never look back.

Advertising

#5 Commit to something bigger than yourself

If you have problems committing, it will be beneficial to commit in a group setting.  The most likely way to overcome the fear of commitment is to commit to something bigger than just you, and in a group, you’ll be to draw upon others for both motivation and support.

“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. “ Vince Lombardi

In a committed group, everyone works for the benefit of that group. A perfect example is trying to teach a child to swim on his own vs. with a group of kids his own age.

In conclusion, commitment allows us to fulfill our most basic needs and achieve our most sought after dreams. It gives us purpose. It’s never too late to learn how to commit.

 

More by this author

Smart Hacks To Keep You Productive While Using Facebook Get more Curious How we kill our innate curiosity (and how to stop doing that) Learn how to battle sleepless nights How to Battle Sleepless Nights 3 Habits To Help You Beat Life’s Supermarket Line 14 Bad Habits That Prevent Inbox Zero

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated 2 How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life 3 How to Develop Mental Toughness to Help You Stay Strong 4 How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious 5 How to Reinvent Yourself And Redefine Your Future

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

Advertising

In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

Advertising

2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

Advertising

When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

Advertising

One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

Read Next