The biggest commitment you must keep is your commitment to yourself.
Neale Donald Walsch
Life is full of commitments. You commit all the time to something or someone, even when you feel miserable about it. You commit to a job you do not like, to a love relationship that makes you unhappy, to a routine that drains your energy, to a diet that frustrates you.
When you finally want to commit to something that brings you joy and purpose, you have run out of strength and enthusiasm. Before you notice you have convinced yourself of one of two things – if not both – a) you are unable to commit yourself, or b) your goals are not worth the commitment.
Let me tell you: The problem is not you! It is not that you are not a committed person nor that your goals are futile or unattainable. If you allow me to say this: Perhaps before filling in your daily life with hollow and joyless commitments, you should be honest about what you really want for yourself.
Beyond any commitment you may seal with anything or anyone, more powerful is your commitment to yourself. Thereby ask yourself what brings you the most joy, passion, fulfillment. And do not panic or feel the need to rush if the answer does not come straight away.
Whatever you might be involved in at the moment, whatever reality is yours right now, take the time to reflect and assess. Is this what I want to commit to? Is to this – project, task, person – I want to commit all my energy and focus to? How does this make me feel and stay committed to myself?
Below we explore 6 strategies to help you stay highly committed to yourself and to what brings closer to your purpose.
1. Revisit your goals: What goals?! In case this is where you stand, then you need to take a step back and define your own goals. We have been covering a myriad of themes around personal development, transition, and growth in the past 11 to 12 months. With the new year approaching, you have now a great opportunity to set those goals if not done so far. Considering that you have been following us around here and working hard on yourself, I’m sure you are perfectly aware of your goals. This also means you have checked them several times in the past months, most likely to track and adjust them. If you have been doing it, then you are already one step ahead. Revisiting your goals is key to stay committed, which does not mean rewriting them entirely (unless this is a pondered decision led by specific events that made you start from scratch mid-season). What you take from revisiting your goals is an opportunity to not only keep measuring your progress, but also to renew your connection and commitment.
2. Take action every day: Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today. I’m sure you heard the saying before.From where I see it, it means much more than leaving procrastination and laziness aside. It is about the long run by getting closer to your dreams every single day. You cannot move forward if you do not take action. Even though any action is better than none, getting closer to your goals and dreams is indeed a smarter decision. In other words, if you are meant to be busy, then be productive. When in motion, move toward your goals. When the moment comes to take action, act in alignment with your purpose and your goals. Making small commitments helps moving the needle. Step by step, you try, you implement, you do. May not be the perfect timing or how you expected it to be, but you are taking action now toward your future. Do not leave it to randomness or someone else’s decision!
3. Say no more often: How do you keep a high level of commitment if you keep saying ‘yes’ to every new project and everyone? When you say ‘yes’ to an opportunity, you are saying ‘no’ to another, even when it is not obvious at first glance. Do you really want to keep saying no to your goals in detriment of others’ priorities? It does not mean you stop being helpful or supportive. You can still welcome ideas and engage in new projects, though on your own terms. In other words, without compromising your goals and priorities. Saying no occasionally, does not make you a ‘no person’, just someone who knows themselves and what they want. So, next time you feel like exercising the ‘no muscle’, start by saying no to something you usually say yes to. It can be anything from grabbing a late drink after work, lending money to a friend, attending an online class. Stay committed to that no, without the need to justify yourself.
4. Seek inspiration: Oh, I am not the inspirational kind of person. If this has been your line of thought for a while, it is time to put a stop to it! Think about someone you know whom you find truly inspirational. It may seem a natural talent they were born with…but no one is born with or without an inspirational vein. It takes knowledge, exchange, practice, time. It takes commitment. At the same time, it shows how much this person is committed to their goals. Despite the stuckness we all feel throughout our journey once in a while, lacking direction and new ideas, keep searching for inspiration makes the difference. When doing so, be curious and look for answers or solutions elsewhere. Talk to people outside your usual circle, read books on different topics, attend a class or course in a new field. And when you feel inspired, go ahead and inspire others around you. This constant flow of inspiration helps you keep a high level of commitment.
5. Stay disciplined yet flexible: Discipline must be part of the big picture. As we mentioned before, your goals will not be achieved by an act of randomness, nor you will stay commitment without seeing progress. If it sounds strict it probably is, at least in part. Without discipline and a few ground rules, focus is easily lost as well as motivation. Following and accomplishing the small steps you have planned beforehand is one significant way to keep you focused and committed. As relevant as staying disciplined is to be flexible. Not that paradoxical as you may think. Being flexible about what exactly? You can have clear goals, a defined plan, concrete steps and timelines; yet the unexpected happens. Not every step of the journey depends only on you. Hence, be flexible about the approach you take to achieve your goals. It does not mean compromise on your priorities, but perhaps shift or adjust your perspective at times. Discipline combined with flexibility enables you to keep your high commitment.
6. Be accountable: Commitment is also about accountability. Being accountable for your choices and your actions. Because you always have a choice. Often, I hear it from clients and friends “I did not have a choice, there was nothing I could do”. But I know and you know that this is not entirely true! There are always options, even when you do not see them with clarity or not exactly as you pictured them. Perhaps you are not ready to assume the responsibility. Maybe it is too big of a decision, and you feel afraid. Whatever reason you have, it is still your decision to take. You choose to stop or to move forward, you choose to be stuck or to grow, you choose to be the average or the best version of yourself. You choose. Shaping your present and what will become your future is your responsibility. Be accountable, for the actions you take today are shaping the outcomes you achieve tomorrow.
Approaching the end of the year and with it the time for self-reflection and closure, you might be wondering how it is relevant to talk about commitment. At the end, it is not only about your goals, your achievements, your successes. You are the one standing in the middle, right there in the center. You are the one who makes the needle moving to one side or the other. And if the side of purpose, fulfillment and joy is the one you aim for, then you better show a robust and indisputable commitment to yourself. Now, later, in the upcoming year. In the short run and in the long run.