Imagine Bill standing atA and going to his goal, B. With full commitment he strides directly towards B. He might encounter obstacles but he goes over or round as best he can as he’s committed to getting to B. Once at B, he reinforces his belief in himself as someone who commits and reaches their goal.
Contrast with Chris standing at A and only 50% committed to getting to B- he’s not sure he can reach B or if that’s what he really wants. How far do you think he gets? Yes he might get half-way but then he doubts and gets discouraged and goes back. He does this several times, expends lots of energy and ends up back at A doubting his abilities to achieve anything.
So the first way we know we have committed is that we’ve said a full yes, 100%. Not a ‘maybe’ or ‘we’ll see’. As Chris demonstrates it’s better to say ‘no’ than be half-hearted.
The second sign we’ve committed is in the level of responsibility we take. Taking responsibility for managing yourself, organising the resources you need and getting on-board others who have the potential to help and hinder you, means, even if there are upsets, there’s no room for blaming others or external events. No excuses. You might need help, advice and to learn new things but you know you are responsible for putting this in place. You are in the driving seat.
The third way we show our commitment is with our attention and focus. If we are committed to our health goals, we’ll look out for helpful information as we go about our day, we’ll naturally steer conversations in this direction as we are curious about other’s experiences and we’ll consider our goals when we make choices like what to eat or how to exercise.
Related to this is allocating time so we give all the necessary energy to fulfil our commitment. So the forth way we show our commitment is by taking action. Taking all the action we’ve agreed, with ourselves and others, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate energy. These last 2- attention/focus and time/energy limit the number of commitments we can make fully at any one time. When we have too many things on the go at once, we can juggle or rotate our commitment but it is likely the things that are most urgent or the people who shout loudest will get our attention rather than us making a conscious choice about the things we want to commit to. This lifestyle is likely to drain our energy so we are unable to give our best.
The fifth way to know if we’re committed is what happens when there’s a problem. It is quite typical that, when we decide to commit, both internal and external obstacles arise. Internal obstacles like self-doubt and experiences you’ve had in the past that you’re afraid of repeating and external obstacles that require you to think in new ways, relate to people differently and develop new skills. When the going gets tough, without commitment we are likely to give up. Commitment gives us resourcefulness and resilience we need to solve problems creatively, discover solutions and keep on going.
With all of the above, it will be no surprise to learn that the sixth sign of commitment is progress. We might not always make progress in the way we plan or in line with expectations. Some of the problems above might have caused us to take a detour or we might have spotted a new opportunity which will enhance our plan. However if we are making all the causes above, the effect must be progress.
Finally, when we have made a real commitment, we have the additional evidence of our personal growth. By giving our full commitment, we develop new skills and behaviour, we learn the states of mind that work for us and as we observe the results we achieve, our self-belief grows and we are ready to take on bigger, more life expanding commitments.
This article first appeared in Wellbeing Magazine