The problem with making commitments all the time is that you start to get used to NOT keeping them. You promise yourself something and then the next day you fail. You see, you just do not take yourself seriously. In medieval times there was this religious trend called self-flagellation. Effectively flogging oneself for not keeping a covenant or commitment. To avoid horrible plagues like the Black Death, you would beat yourself to rid yourself of all your sins. I suppose if the consequence of breaking one of your commitments was serious pain you would actually try to keep them for more than a day or two.
So why is it that we make a commitment, and then two days later are unable to keep it!? I set out to eat only whole foods, no processed foods for a year. Day two, I am stuffing my face with cookies, drinking redbulls and snorting sugar. Guess my commitment did not mean anything, why?
I have spent a lot of time on this subject over the years and have started to crack the code. I have maintained and kept at least 14 new habits over the last 3 years and each time I have had to overcome a personal battle to persevere through hardships in overcoming my primal self to do so. You absolutely need ways to keep yourself true to your commitment. There are several techniques – but here are a few.
1. The Goal needs to be Unobtainable. What? That sounds crazy. Actually no. The goal needs to be awesome and really exciting. You hear people talk about SMART (specific, measurable, obtainable or something like that). That sounds great in theory. However, any goal that sounds like, ” I will lose 20 pounds in 90 days,” is about the most boring thing you can think of. However, if you say I want to look like a Chiseled Greek God that all people envy at the poolside. That is something that is inspiring and really close to what you want to achieve, even thought it is probably impossible.
Here is the thing. Goals needs to be unobtainable because that is how they become powerful. There are billions of people that believe in Nirvana and almost all of them believe they will not get there in this life. There is power in the unobtainable. So my advice, come up with something awesome that is way beyond your reach. You will not get there, but it will be a blast trying.
Plus when people ask you what your goal is, you can say, I am training to be a Greek God. They will laugh, you will laugh, and then you will go to the gym.
2. Burn the Boats. Figure out a way to make your existence dependent on your keeping the commitment. Tell a bunch of people, brag about your ambitions, inform the world. Quit your job, whatever, something big. Make the commitment so real that your success is absolutely required. When you burn the boats that means that there is just no way to back out. This can be hard, but if you think long and hard enough you will come up with something you are holding on to. Give it up. Throw it out. Burn the boats.
3. Communicate with people on a regular basis about your progress. The more you tell people, the more you will start to feel that people are watching you. That may not be true, but you will create the illusion. This blog has done that for me. No one really reads the blog hardly at all, but I think they do and that is the magic behind it for me. Create an audience for yourself, even if it is fictitious.
4. Commit everyday. The 365 commitment is based on this principle. Everyday, wake up and everyday remind yourself of your core commitments. They why of the day. What are you trying to accomplish and why. Remind yourself why the things that you are going to do today are vital, critical and that you cannot skip. Everyday is everyday.
5. Ride at Dawn. This means get your commitments done early and first before the day wanes on. Get what is important out of the way. Do not look at email, phones, or anything else until you have achieved the most important things. Your commitments are that important. Treat them that way.
I will stop at 5. There are many more, but above all just get them done and do not skip no matter what the consequence. You know when you are doing to much, or taking on too much, when after all these 5 you still fail. Do not panic. Just reduce the workload and try again. You will eventually find the workload that you will actually do everyday. A habit forms when you find out what it is that you will actually do everyday and consistently do it without fail.