A strong sense of commitment is an admirable trait to carry, and it’s one that will earn you much appreciation throughout your lifetime. If you’re able to stay committed to your goals and the essential people in your life, you won’t just help yourself – you’ll also help inspire others.
Many people will expect commitment from you, as well, throughout your life. In a relationship, for example, people will expect you to be committed to your partner. In a work environment, your boss will expect you to come to work on time every day. Your friends will expect you to show up to social gatherings with them, rather than bowing out.
In short, commitment is both a desirable and expected trait of you. In this article, our objective is to teach you how to stay committed to your goals, whether they be big or small!
Create the Mindset
If you want to be committed to your goals for the long haul, you will need to work on creating a mindset that lines up with that commitment. You can’t have anything holding you back. If you want to stay strong when everyone else fails, you have to decide in your core that you’re going to do so.
Ronald Mark Bloomberg once said, “Competing in sports has taught me that if I’m not willing to give 120 percent, somebody else will.” This concept applies to every aspect of your life that requires commitment. If you can’t commit to something and give it your all, someone else will come along that can. This can happen in relationships, friendships, jobs, competitions – all of it.
If you’re going to rise above those around you, you’ll need to create a sense of dedication that is unshakeable. That sort of ambition is a potent tool. When others recognize this in you, they’ll both respect and admire you for it.
At work, your boss will see your dedication to your work, and will likely recognize it by promoting you. In friendship, your friends will see your ability to stick by them through thick and thin, and they will do the same for you. In a relationship, your dedication will be the cornerstone of a stable, trusting partnership.
However, dedication like this doesn’t just appear out of thin air, nor can you just flick a switch to turn it on. Creating a dedicated mindset involves finding something that you know that you can stay committed to in the long-term. It also involves sticking with that something regardless of what stumbling blocks might come your way. As a result, the thing you choose to be committed to is equally as important as the mindset you form.
Set the Right Goals
To stay committed to your goals, you need to be very careful with what kinds of goals you set. Setting a vague goal, such as “I want to earn more money this year,” is counterproductive and easy to weasel your way out of when the going gets tough. Instead, try something like, “my goal for this year is to be promoted and earn a pay raise.”
With a goal like the above, you have something concrete to work towards. Setting a vague goal can result in split efforts towards different things. “I want to earn more money this year,” could be interpreted as several different things, for example:
- I want a raise
- I want a promotion
- I want to get another job
- I want to work more hours
- I want to make money through investments
- I want to spend less of my money
The above can keep going on forever. Splitting your efforts between multiple avenues like this can sometimes yield results, but as a general rule, concentrating your efforts to one area is the better way to go. Additionally, it’s easy to rationalize failure in the above situation, like so: “I didn’t get that promotion I wanted, but I can always pick up some extra work and I’ll be okay.” This is precisely the opposite of staying committed.
Try picking just one of the bulleted options above as your goal instead – however, make sure to make it specific, as well. Instead of choosing a goal like “I want to spend less of my money,” try something like, “I want to spend less than one hundred dollars on fast food per month.”
Once you’ve got that down, you can branch off of that goal into things like, “I want to limit my clothes spending to less than one hundred dollars per month.” If you work on your goals using an iterative strategy like this, you’ll eventually end up with a much stronger budget, in addition to several successful goals to check off the list!
Decide What’s Most Important
Like we said above, focusing your efforts on one area of change or improvement is generally the most effective way to operate. Just as watching TV while you write a paper or work from home is less effective than working without distractions, splitting your efforts between several different methods is less effective in the long run.
If you’re indeed set on more than one goal, do your best to work towards them sequentially, rather than in tandem (like we illustrated above). Pick your most important goal, then have everything that comes next branch from that success. Pick a target that’s of ultimate importance to you – something so amazing and inspiring that you can’t help but want to achieve it!
If you’re having financial troubles, your most important goal might be getting out of debt. Alternatively, it might be breaking bad shopping habits to pay back your debts. It could even be starting a savings account to form good money habits. It could also be a combination of all three.
To start, isolate the area of your life that needs to be worked on the most – in this case, it would be financial issues. Then, decide the best first step towards fixing those issues. For a compulsive shopper with too much credit card debt, paying off that debt would be the most important thing to do. However, in order to pay off that debt and keep it off, the first order of business should be to break those bad shopping habits.
For this person, then, their sequence of goals would go like this:
- Limit my non-essential purchases to less than one hundred dollars per week
- Sign up for a debt consolidation service
- Pay off the consolidated debts
- When all debts are paid off, start putting the extra money I’m saving into a savings account
This is the right way to decide what’s most important. Think of it as a tiered system – you can’t accomplish the following goals without completing the above ones first. However, for steps like number one, you can’t just stop doing it once you achieve, either. It would be a continuous goal that you would check on at the end of every week.
Be Responsible for Yourself
One of the most significant issues for people that follow the above is staying responsible for themselves. No matter how attainable the goal you set for yourself is, you’re not going to get anywhere if you can’t discipline yourself and be responsible.
If you want to keep yourself committed to something, you can’t make excuses. There is no “I’m not ready for this yet,” or “I can’t do it this week.” Either you’re honest with yourself – everything you do and don’t accomplish is entirely on you – or you can keep making excuses. One method will keep you committed to your goals, and one will not.
However, being responsible for yourself involves more than just creating that mindset at the beginning and expecting it to carry you through. There’s a reason why nearly all those who make new years’ resolutions – at least eighty percent of people, according to U.S. News – end up giving up on them before the next month. Most people lack the discipline required to stay committed to their resolutions.
Self-discipline is a trait that we see less and less of nowadays, with technology making everything more accessible. If you don’t feel like sweeping your floors, you can buy a robot that will do it. If you don’t feel like cooking dinner, someone will bring your favorite meal from your favorite restaurant with just a phone call. If you don’t feel like doing something, you can get it done more easily just by forking over some cash.
While these advances in technology are wonderful and should be celebrated, the fact remains that they’re making people lazy. People tend to give up when they’re forced to deal with more stress than they’re used to. After a long day at work, your new years’ resolution to go to the gym every other day doesn’t look nearly as appealing, does it?
Laziness and self-discipline are on opposite ends of the spectrum. If you’re lazy, your self-discipline goes down. If you exercise self-discipline, you end up being less lazy. Self-discipline is a skill, a habit, and a mindset all rolled into one. The more you do it, the easier it will be, but you need to start somewhere.
The same article by U.S. News recommends five steps to cultivate your self-discipline (and hopefully not giving up on your resolution next year!) Take a look:
- Start small. Like we went over in the previous section, isolate the most important thing for you to do, then work outwards from there. You want to lose weight? To start, take the stairs instead of the elevator at work every day, or walk the last leg of your commute instead of driving or taking a taxi. Once that becomes habitual, start packing smaller, healthier lunches, too, and so on.
- Trust yourself. This one comes naturally with time, but if you believe in yourself – both that you can do it and that you can trust yourself to do it – you won’t be as likely to sit down on the couch instead of going for a walk. Starting small will help with this. As you begin to see more success, your confidence and trust in yourself will grow.
- Invent new challenges. Strengthen your resolve and self-discipline by setting benchmarks for yourself throughout the day. For example, try something like, “I want to finish all of my work and leave half an hour early today.” A fun challenge like this will inspire you to work more efficiently, as well as getting you home earlier. It’s a win-win!
- Be optimistic. If you’re cynical about achieving your goals all the time – if you believe that you can’t or won’t meet them – your likelihood of doing so goes drastically down. You should always do your best to believe in your goals, as well as others’. In addition to inspiring yourself, your optimism can help others achieve their goals, too!
- Evaluate yourself. Take some time and reflect on your most destructive habits and attitudes, then work towards changing them. Even if you have to start there instead of going right to your most important goals, the change will pay off in the long run. You may not realize how much you sabotage your own progress unconsciously through bad thoughts and habits.
Change Your Habits
This goes hand-in-hand with what we just talked about – evaluating yourself for bad habits and thoughts. No matter how determined you are to start strong and do well, if you have self-sabotaging thoughts or practices, you might not get anywhere.
However, this applies to your good habits, too. If you want to stay committed, make it a permanent part of your life by turning it into a pattern. Just as we’re taught to brush our teeth every morning and night when we’re young, if you can stick with going to the gym three days a week for long enough, it will eventually become a painless part of your routine.
However, unless cultivating your good habits will help get rid of the bad habits in question, the bad habits should always come first – if not, they may interfere with forming and keeping good habits later. Some bad habits to watch out for are:
- Rationalizing your failures away (i.e., I didn’t do it today, but I was so busy I didn’t have time, so it’s okay)
- Making excuses (i.e., I’m really not ready for this yet, but I probably will be next week)
- Losing interest down the line
Here are some tricks you can use to form good habits, instead:
- Set your goals together with a friend. Keep each other on the right track!
- Set up rewards for yourself (i.e., if I go to the gym today, even though I’m super tired, I’ll buy myself a massage after)
- Speak to an expert, such as a fitness instructor, therapist, finance coach, etc.
Savor Every Victory
Like we went over briefly earlier, starting small is the key to making progress with your commitments. Every time you get to experience a victory, no matter how small, your inspiration and drive to continue is renewed.
The quote “A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at,” is attributed to the late Bruce Lee. While you should always design your goals to be achievable, they also serve the dual purpose of inspiring you, too. For some, it might be better to have a set of goals working together, all under the umbrella of one more significant purpose.
For example, your larger goal might be, “I want to weigh one hundred and fifty pounds by the end of this year.” Within that goal, you would need to set guideposts for eating right, exercising daily, and kicking unhealthy habits. However, while the smaller goals are meant to be achievable, the broad umbrella goal, while possible, can often be more of a source of inspiration than anything else.
Even if you never make it to one hundred and fifty pounds, you will have achieved all the goals you tiered below it, and that in and of itself will be a decisive victory.
If you want to sustain your commitment to something – be it a goal, an idea, a person, or anything else – you need to keep it at the forefront of your mind. When you keep yourself inspired, your motivation and self-discipline stay at their peak, too.
Keeping inspired is often easier said than done, though. Writers, for example, end up writing about hundreds of different stories and ideas, but only a fraction of those ever end up becoming published books. This is how people work, too. If you want to end up as one of the books, not just a fragment that’s tossed aside, you need to work decisively at it.
If you can’t stay inspired on your own, you’ll more than likely need to find it from an outside source. Sometimes, this can take the form of a friend who keeps you in line, and who you, in turn, keep in line. Taking inspiration from other people’s success stories, whether they’re a friend or not, is another excellent way to do this.
Look at those who are doing better than you, and rather than letting this bog you down, use it to inspire you. If they can do it, you can definitely do it, too – and probably better!
This Psychology Today article lists three critical things you can do to stay inspired. They are as follows:
- Don’t sit still and wait for inspiration. While inspiration can on rare occasions come down in a holy bolt of lightning, depending on such an occurrence is entirely counter-intuitive and will only sabotage your efforts. Don’t let yourself stop moving and shaking – if you stop, it’ll be that much harder to get started again.
- Start small. We’ve been over this – breaking your work into smaller, bite-sized goals has a multitude of benefits, chief among them being keeping you motivated. Motivation and inspiration go hand in hand – when you lack one, the other can help keep you on track, and vice versa.
- Work with others. Having a friend or two alongside you on your journey serves as a support system, someone to engage in friendly competition with, and someone to help reignite your drive when the going gets tough. Just beware of when the both of you start to lose steam! If both of you feel like giving up, it will be twice as hard for you to keep going.
Stay the Course
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, or so it is said. Learning how to stay the course when all you want to do is just take a break can be very tough, and is the hardest part of staying committed to something. Fortunately, there are ways to make this easier for you – all you need to do is get a bit creative.
There are pitfalls you need to watch out for on your journey that will make things more difficult for you. Most importantly, you need to be prepared for when you burn out. This happens to everyone, whether it be a month after you’ve made your new years’ resolution or the weekend after starting a new diet. Your body and mind will just reach a point where they say, “I don’t want to do this anymore!”
The best way to minimize these feelings of burnout is to be prepared for them. You can plan for it, as EveryDollar suggests here, by pulling back for a few days, a week, or a month in order to give yourself some rest. However, if you’re going to do this, you need to be the type of person who can get started again after taking a break! If you’re not, you may just end up losing all of your progress.
Instead of pulling out completely, we suggest maybe lightening the load when you feel burnt out. If you’re trying to get in shape, try decreasing your gym days to once per week instead of twice per week. When you’re out of your stressful situation, move gradually back to your original workload and pick up where you left off!
Another way to help maintain your course when the going gets tough is to set up rewards for yourself. As long as you don’t go overboard with your treats and rewards, giving yourself little gifts along the way is nothing but helpful! However, we’ll be covering this more in the next section.
Treating yourself is one of the most useful – but also the most dangerous – secrets to helping your plans go right! We threw one example of this in earlier, but here’s another: “if I can get all of my work done before I go home today, I’ll buy those shoes I’ve been wanting for a while!”
As long as your lifestyle can support these little treats, they can be a great help on your journey to stay inspired. As much as people like to romanticize the white-knuckled, pure-grit approach, helping yourself along can be just as effective, if not more so.
However, you’ll need to be careful to keep your “treats” at a reasonable level – for example, only when you do something particularly stupendous or unusual. If you start treating yourself too often, the special days will lose their meaning, and your commitment will follow soon after.
Additionally, be careful of the way you choose your treats! Treating yourself can be especially problematic when dieting, for example, or working on losing weight. Don’t ever treat yourself with a reward that undermines the goal you’re trying to reach.
“Cheat days” while on a diet, for example, are counter-productive and unhealthy. Instead of rewarding yourself with calorie-heavy, fatty foods, try purchasing a professional massage instead (like we mentioned earlier). Alternatively, a weekend vacation to an exotic locale after a long week of work might be an option for some, or even splurging on an especially romantic date with a loved one.
Take the Plunge
Of course, none of the stuff we’ve mentioned in this article can happen unless you decide to take that first step. No excuses – if you want to stay committed to your goals and your dreams, you need to jump right in, take on the challenge, and deal with whatever comes your way.
You can’t wait for the stars to align. The perfect time to pursue your dreams will not be branded in the stars or sung from the heavens. The ideal time to test your commitment to your dreams is right now. There will never be a better time!
PaidToExist article, the writer invites his readers to ask themselves what they’re waiting for. Are you scared of failure? Are you wary of the extra work that you’ll need to put in to stay committed to your goals? Well, let me tell you this: if you’re not taking the plunge, you’re automatically failing. There’s nowhere to go but up from there. No matter how many times you fail on the way, at least you’ll start winning sometimes.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort required, you’ll find that it’s worth it. If you genuinely want to stay committed to something and see it through to the end, you’ll be able to do it with the tips in this article.