As we near the end of 2017 many people reflect on their past accomplishments and begin making resolutions for the upcoming year. However, some research suggests that approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February — and that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.
But why? When I think of one word that best describes the foundation for any success — whether personal or professional I think of commitment.
While many business owners or entrepreneurs begin with a great idea or a vision, it is often their commitment that fuels their resolve and sustains their perseverance and efforts. And although many social activists are incredibly passionate about their causes, their ability to effect change is due in large part to their undying commitment and beliefs. Professional athletes are often revered for their physical abilities and skill — but this in turn is generally a result of their commitment to their sport. And while many people fall in love, extraordinarily successful couples are those that recognize that their ability to sustain love requires an unwavering commitment to their relationship.
A commitment is often defined as the act of committing to something — whether it be an objective, an agreement, or a pledge. Commitments can be the ‘fuel’ that focuses our energy. Unfortunately, without being sufficiently committed our effort and intensity can wane and our ability to succeed diminishes over time.
“Commitment is an act, not a word.” — Jean-Paul Sartr
Why is making a commitment so easy, while maintaining it so much more difficult? Why are we able to keep some commitments, but struggle with others?
It may simply because ‘being’ committed is different than ‘making’ a commitment. Making a commitment refers to the act of committing, but doesn’t necessarily infer that we will follow through on our commitment — while being committed refers to our consistent focus on the efforts and action that supports our commitment.
So how can we improve our ability to maintain our commitments?
When I reflect on my own personal successes (and failures) I see some common themes.
1. Clarify your purpose. Bringing clarity to your purpose – i.e. ‘why’ you exist – and/or your individual mission statement is key. In his bestseller ‘Start With Why’, Simon Sinek explains how starting with ‘Why’ inspires people to do the things that inspire them.
2. Assess your commitments. It’s important to ensure that each commitment doesn’t conflict with your overall purpose and/or other commitments. Be honest with yourself.
3. Document your commitments. Write down your commitments – personal and professional, short-term and long-term. Share them with others. Putting our commitments to paper and communicating them to others helps make us more accountable to ourselves.
4. Be realistic. Don’t over-commit yourself – there are only 24 hours in a day. While failures can provide us with invaluable lessons small wins can contribute to the confidence necessary to be successfully achieving larger goals and objectives.
What are you committed to?
Originally published at medium.com