The power of staying committed to your goals is that you actually accomplish them.
Commitment is the key to seeing your dreams, hopes, and, yes, goals, come to fruition. Because goals are inherently difficult to achieve. They take a lot of effort and time. The tricky part is, of course, applying the same amount of effort over a long period of time. Once you are able to really commit in this way, you’ll see massive results.
But staying committed to a goal is tough. How many New Year’s Resolutions have been abandoned mid-February when we lose our motivation? How many half-completed workout programs are there? How many goals have we had that we now don’t even remember anymore because we abandoned them?
Staying committed is a superpower because it can change your life. Luckily, it’s a superpower anyone can have if they apply themselves and take the following steps to make sure they don’t fall off the wagon:
Know Your Values
Before creating a goal in the first place, it’s vital that you know your core values.
Start by creating a list of things in life you think you value. For example, you might list out things like: love, money, friendship, career, freedom, security, creativity, or health. Then, put these values in order from first to last. Do you value freedom over security, or the other way around? Do you value friendship over work? Health over money?
Ask yourself these questions and get very honest with yourself. Find out exactly what you value in life and in what order.
Once you have your list of about 10 values, this will help you determine what type of goals you should be committing yourself to. If you don’t value money very much, and place it below friendship, then you’re probably going to have a difficult time committing to a financial goal. When it comes down to spending money on a night out with friends or saving that money, you’ll probably choose the former since it aligns with your values.
This isn’t to say that your values can’t change. That’s why the next step is to…
Evaluate Your Values
Now that you have your list of values, you may realize that there are some issues. Like the previous example, you may realize that you don’t value your financial health very highly and therefore have struggled and will continue to struggle to save and build wealth.
This is your chance to examine each of your values and its place on the list. Are these the types of values you want to exemplify in your life? Will these values make you happy? Is the order of values useful to you?
Take a moment and reorder or replace your values until you have a list that actually benefits you. It will take some work to make your emotions catch up with the new system, but just by writing it down, you’ve started the journey towards commitment to your goals.
So now that you know, and are confident in, your values, it will be easier to stay committed because you’ll…
Make Authentic Decisions
Often, it’s easy to fall off the commitment wagon because we’re not sure where our priorities are. We’re not sure what we really value.
If you’ve decided that health is your number one priority, then when faced with the choice of doing your daily workout or hanging out with your friends, you’ll obviously choose the workout, since health comes above your other value of friendship in the hierarchy.
But just knowing what you value isn’t enough to really stay committed, you also have to…
Create a WHY
A WHY is a strong, emotional reason for wanting to do something. Pretty simple, right? Here’s how it works:
If you want to get a new job, ask: WHY? Is it because you want financial freedom and the ability to choose your own schedule so you can spend time with your newborn daughter?
Or, another example:
Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds. Again, ask: WHY? Is it because you want to feel more confident in yourself and finally not have to worry about your physical health and potential doctor visits?
Get super specific when choosing your why. It should be emotionally linked to a value that’s high in your hierarchy…for example in scenario 1, you could link that goal to the value of “FAMILY,” whereas scenario 2 could link to the value of “HEALTH.”
At the end of the day, your WHY should be something that gets you fired up. When you think of your WHY, it should cause a deep emotional reaction.
The truth is that change is a result of action, and action is spurred by emotion. The stronger the emotion, the easier it will be to take action. And commitment is all about action over time. That’s why you need a strong WHY to carry you through a long period of time, otherwise you’ll peeter out!
With a WHY it’s also important to have a…
Once you have your why, create an equally strong WHAT.
A WHAT is the end result you’re looking for. It should be specific, measurable, and time-bound.
Visualize your end goal. See it in your mind’s eye. Decide exactly what it will feel like, taste like, sound like, look like, and smell like! What color is the doorknob on your dream villa? What kind of clothes are you wearing when you finally seal that business deal? Where are you when you finish the marathon?
Go the extra mile and write about it in a journal. Describe in detail what the experience of finally achieving your goal will be like.
And once your WHAT is strong, it’s time for a…
If your WHY is the beginning, and your WHAT is the end result, then HOW is…well, it’s HOW you get there!
This HOW should be just as specific, and potentially even more detailed.
To stay committed, it’s super important to create concrete, small steps towards your bigger goal. Don’t just have a goal to “write more,” have a goal to “write 500 words every day at 8 am.”
Make sure that your small steps are so specific that there can be no ambiguity for your future self to capitalize on and end up not getting anything done. When you know EXACTLY what you have to do, then you won’t have to spend any brain power worrying about what to do when the time comes.
These goals should be specific, but also…
Many people create goals and then specific steps to reach those goals, but they set unrealistic standards for themselves. Staying committed isn’t possible if you sabotage yourself before you even begin.
So if you know you can only dedicate fifteen minutes a day to meditate, don’t expect to meditate for an hour every day. You’ll only set yourself up for failure.
Instead, be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably manage and then schedule time in your day to work on your goal so it doesn’t conflict with anything else.
And, as you accomplish these mini-goals along the way, make sure to…
Celebrate every little milestone. Seriously, even the stuff you think isn’t that big of a deal. Every good signal you send to your brain will make it want to keep working on that goal even more because it associates praise with it!
So remember to give yourself a pat on the back regularly. If you’re too negative towards yourself about all the little mistakes you make along the way, you’re much more likely to lose track of that “WHY” we talked about in the beginning!
Accomplishing goals takes time. Sometimes a LOT of time. You won’t necessarily see results right away. Trust the process. Enjoy the journey. It’s much easier to stay committed to something if you actually have fun doing it.
Yes, some days will feel like a slog. Some days you’ll be running out of time. Some days you’ll have to make a tough decision between working on your goal and doing something else that might be more “fun” or immediately rewarding.
But the short term pain you avoid by ignoring your goals is meaningless compared to the long term satisfaction you can gain from putting in the time, doing the work, and ultimately, staying committed.