When you are truly committed to your goals, you achieve them. When you don’t achieve them, the problem is that your level of commitment isn’t high enough. In every moment of your life you are committed to something – you may be lying on the couch watching television, thinking you’re not committed to anything, but lying on the couch and watching television is exactly what you are committed to doing.

Our commitment to something can be influenced by an even stronger underlying commitment. These can have both a positive and negative face. For example, being independent can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be a hindrance in some aspects of your life. Working out an optimal balance is about identifying what you are truly committed to. Following through on commitments is very powerful, as it builds your confidence and builds trust with those around you.

Think of each task on your ‘to do’ list or in your diary and consider where it fits on your scale of commitment. Has it been sitting there for months, waiting for you to ‘find the time’? Which of these levels of commitment are you operating at?

  1. Hmm…
  2. I’ll think about it.
  3. I’ll do it (unless something comes up).
  4. I’ll do it (unless something important comes up).
  5. I’ll drag myself there bloodied and broken if I have to.

For example, if Martin says, ‘I’ll try to quit smoking this weekend,’ he really means that he is not ready to commit to quitting and hasn’t fully explored the commitments that smoking fulfils. By using the word ‘try’ he can avoid quitting and exploring what his commitment to smoking actually means. This is a world away from, ‘I will stop smoking on Saturday.’

If you’re lacking the commitment to follow through on your plans, try this to find the real reasons you’re getting stuck:

  • Write down a goal or desire you’ve been unable to attain. For example: ‘Go to the gym twice a week.’
  • Make a list of the actions you have taken (or not taken) that are in direct opposition to this goal. For example: ‘Worked longer hours, so told myself I didn’t have time; stopped working out with my gym buddy and lost that accountability; eventually cancelled gym membership as I wasn’t using it.’
  • Imagine that these choices, which have taken you away from your desired goal, are an expression of a deeper commitment. Consider: ‘What commitment are these choices in direct alignment with?’ The underlying commitment is: ‘My gym membership is expensive and I’m not getting value, so I’ll cancel it and save money.’
  • Now that you know the real reason why this underlying commitment has held you back, reset your goal and truly commit to it. For example, join a gym that offers better value and classes you really like, find cheaper or free ways to exercise such as cycling to work, walking in the park or doing yoga DVDs at home, or find a friend to work out with and re-establish motivation and accountability.

(Extract taken from The Life Plan, by Shannah Kennedy. Head over to bookdepository.com to order your copy or get in touch with Shannah here to find out about executive coaching options.)