How To Develop Commitment For Anything

CommitmentPeople often view solid commitment as some special magical power…..”Wow you workout everyday or, you read 100+ books a year or, you started your business in your garage?”  As though those who commit are different or exceptional in some way. They’re not. Here’s what you need to know to commit.

Alignment:

Your motive, thoughts and actions all have to match to create solid commitment. Let’s say you want to begin a workout routine* to improve your fitness level and lose weight. If that’s your motive, what is your mindset? Do you think you can do it? Do you believe yourself? If you take action and sign up for a gym membership and your thoughts in your heart of hearts are tinged with doubt the mismatch is enough to derail the effort. This is the inner and outer work of commitment. Spend time thinking about the importance and magnitude of the effort. If it’s a big change for you like going from couch potato to doing a triathlon, you may want to build in small intermediate steps with milestones.

Plan:

As you plan the action also anticipate and make a plan for setbacks. How will you explain missing workouts to yourself? The way you deal with setbacks is crucial. For example, when you miss a workout do you say? “I missed a day, oh well, I’ll get right back into it first thing tomorrow morning.” Or would you be more likely to say, “ It’s no use, I’ll never change.”  The way you internalize setbacks and move forward is vital for success. Be Flexible: Rigidity doesn’t work. Working out is supposed to enhance your life not hinder it. Keep the long view. You may miss two or three times a week but as long as it adds up to your overall goal looking at the entire month, you’re on track. Take a lesson from nature. A flexible tree bends and survives the most devastating storms, a rigid tree breaks and dies.

Get Comfortable:

It can get messy as you go about trying to commit to new things. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s OK, this is not a test, enjoy it. Don’t leave out the fun and play that exercise offers. How about the fun of a new YOU? Remember, temporary inconvenience, permanent improvement.

Push:

It is human nature to do the bare minimum. You will have to push yourself. If you find the push too difficult get help. Use a personal trainer or a coach as your catalyst. The antidote for needing a catalyst is it’s temporary.  You eventually become self-generating. That’s when you know you are committed. Here are 3 inspiring examples of commitment.

  •  In Nature it is well known that young birds are committed to flying but fear holds them back from their first flight. Adult eagles for example are known to push eaglets out of the nest to facilitate the first experience using the wind and soaring as flight.
  • I remember hearing a radio interview with Ted Turner discussing his struggles and triumphs creating CNN. The interviewer commented that in the early days CNN didn’t pay very well and Ted Turner said there wasn’t a lot of money then.  Turner also said he saved money by living in his office, keeping the lights and the heat down low—for twenty years!

This is a great insight into what commitment is.

  • Benjamin Franklin was so committed to personal development that he created a small book listing the improvements he wanted to make in column form. He paid strict attention marking in his book when he strengthened himself in the direction of improvement and when his actions detracted from improvement.

Franklin is known as our first great philosopher. Versatile, self-taught, an athlete, inventor, editor, writer and a wit, Benjamin Franklin is my poster child of commitment.

One last suggestion:

I want to impress upon you is to avoid perfectionism. Don’t become immobilized by trying to do it right, just do it! To borrow from Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Once again, we look to Nature for perfect inspiration. Notice how perfectly imperfect Nature is. The asymmetrical tree, the out-of round moonshell and the unevenly blown sand are all signs for us to accept that we too by our own Nature are perfectly imperfect.

*Always consult a physician before beginning an exercise program.

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