Are you one of those people who set out to do things with the best intentions and buckets full of motivation but somehow can never seem to stick it out?
Welcome to the club. The inability to commit is a common human trait that everybody experiences – some more than others. Continually setting goals then giving up or vowing to stop unwanted habits and failing is extremely discouraging.
So, what sets successful people apart, and how can you learn to stick to commitments?
There’s good news and bad news. Sticking to things isn’t an ingrained ability and you are going to have to work at it. But it can be learned. With practice, you can teach yourself the art of committing to anything you set your mind to.
Here’s how to improve your ability to stick to things…
Upgrade the importance of your goals
Most of us don’t truly value our dreams and aspirations enough.
But if you look back in your personal history, it isn’t like you are incapable of committing to something. Did you complete university or some other studies? Are you holding down a regular job and paying your bills every month? If so, you obviously can commit to some things!
There are many reasons why you go to work every day even when you don’t want to. There is a duty to your boss and colleagues, the motivation of money, the unpleasant consequences of not turning up, and societal expectations.
Chances are, you wouldn’t consider skipping work regularly just because you had a big night or are feeling a bit under the weather. But these two excuses are usually enough to talk ourselves out of going for a run, working on a side project we value or getting up early to cook a healthy meal.
The promises you make to yourself seem to mean far less than the promises you make to other people. You need to turn this around. Treat your personal goals the same way as you would treat your job and your commitments to others.
As with any skill, practice makes perfect. It is no different when you are practising commitment. Choose a small project that is not overly challenging. It doesn’t matter so much what the end goal is because the purpose of the exercise is only to learn the art of commitment.
Start with a short-term goal. For example, tell yourself you will drink a glass of water every morning when you wake up for one week. Or that you’ll spend three minutes meditating every evening. Then go ahead and do it.
As you become better at sticking to things, you can make your targets slightly more challenging and extend the duration of your commitment.
Pay attention to your thoughts
Your mind is a tricky little customer and will come up with endless reasons to get out of doing things. Try to tune into your thoughts as an unbiased listener.
Marvel at the inventive excuses your brain comes up with to let yourself off the hook, but don’t buy into it and don’t renegotiate.
Remind yourself that you are committed and push through.
Train like a zen master
Great athletes don’t give up when it starts to hurt. And successful people know how to reframe challenges as opportunities.
Retrain your brain to see discomfort, difficulty and temptation as opportunities to practice your skills!
Embrace the challenge instead of begrudging it and you will put yourself in a more positive frame of mind to stick to things.