The 365 Commitment

First Things First

We need to face a part of our existence that is a everyday reality. There is a significant amount of competition for our attention and time. If we do not head into each day with a clear plan, then there are forces working against us that will prevent us from fulfilling and keeping our most important commitments – namely the ones we make to ourselves. Head into the day with no clear attack plan and you will be overwhelmed. You will get distracted. You will not get what you want or need to get done and you will experience a profound feeling of dissonance.

You will end up playing a video game and relishing the fact that you can have small little wins by performing quick tasks. All games are falling into this pattern. Reward the player frequently and often and you will hook them. That is because there is something larger going on with us humans, and in our society today this is even more pronounced. You will end up scrolling for hours and hours and not even notice the time slip. You are experiencing this dissonance and what you are actually looking for is a quick reward for your focused attention and you will get it. See that is how this works, people are dedicating time to social media to draw your attention, give you small rewards, feed this primal instinct of yours and ultimately get you to subscribe, purchase, or participate in something that is NOT your personal commitment.

So you need a strategy. A way to combat this overwhelming adversary that is targeted specifically at this aspect of the human psychosis. After experimenting for well over 2000 days in a row, I can recommend a simple strategy that will put you in control of your day. Structure your life to get your personal commitments done before 10am, everyday. This sounds simple, but it is not. It is hard work and it takes months to finally figure out how to get yourself aligned to put what is the most critical to you, first.

Let me ask a question first, however. Why would you NOT put what is the most important to you first? Why would you NOT wake early and start immediately to work on the tasks, activities that you know will help you reach your personal goals?

Take a pause for a moment and do some self evaluation. Here is my method. I learned this from Ray Dalio. Imagine yourself as a system. You (the manager) wants this system to accomplish certain things. Certain output from this system is critical to you. Now, go back for the last 3 – 5 days. Imagine what this system did every morning for the first 4 hours of the day. What was accomplished, what was not accomplished? What did the system do or not do to meet the objectives? How was the system distracted? Where did it break down? Break the system down into components, where did it break down.

I think will start to see the point, however, here come the excuses. I know I have been there too. I have to take the kids to school (so do I). I have a boss breathing down my neck (so did I). I have to commute to work, or get to the airport, or do this and do that (so do I). We are all the same. You are not that special. The funny thing about being human is we have this really powerful conscious, “ego,” that spends a lot of time as we grow up establishing our unique identity. So this is usually really strong, but here is the kicker. We are all the same. That person next to you has the same manifestation of ego that you do. Of course we are all unique, but the motivators, the process is the same. So why are some ego’s really successful at getting their commitments done and others are not?

Usually they have what is important to them done by 10am.

I met this wealthy sales person when I was younger and just starting out. I would get to the cubicle zoo in the morning at check in time and I would see and hear this sales person in a cubicle on the phone. He was relentless, every morning he would have at least 10 or more conversations. Then sometime in the mid morning, he would be gone. You would not see him again. Who knows what he was doing the rest of the day, but it did not matter. This sales person out achieved the entire office combined. So what was going on? I asked him about this and he said the following, paraphrased, “I set a number everyday that I have to hit, I get that done first and then the rest of the day I can just do what I want.”

There was some brilliance to this concept. This sales person learned that he had a specific rhythm and the cycle of greatest energy for him started around 3 – 4 am. Sound crazy? Not really. We all want these amazing life hacks, well this one was profound. He gets up at 3am. Knocks out some health requirements, prepares what he needs for the day and then heads to the office. At 4 am he starts making phone calls. Mostly calling East Coast and Overseas people. Then as the morning wears on he works central time and then west coast time. He gets the people when they are also starting their day. He gets his agenda on their agenda that day. By the time 10am hits, this sales person has the commitments needed to hit sales targets and does so. He jokingly told me (and this was early 90s) that he had to get 1M in commitments before he could do anything else in life. Maybe he was not joking. I note that this sales person is no longer working, and I am. We are the same age.

The point of the above story is that this sales person structured his life to accommodate getting the absolutely critical commitment done first, before 10am. I frequent San Diego harbor. I love mornings there. If you are ever at a beach or wide open area where you can see people come to life, watch carefully. Just find a place to sit and watch. As the early morning draws first light, people will start to stir. They will be really slow at first and then as the sun comes up, they will start to move. At first just a few and then some more. Similar to an ant hill, by 10am people are up and moving around and doing what they “have to do” today. Nobody is really moving fast until 10. This is why, you should use that time to get your commitments securely checked for the day. Nobody will distract you.

The reason you end up breaking a commitment is that after your initial start, it gets hard. Life circumstances get in the way and you abandon ship. You hit a wall that you cannot seem to get past and you lose hope. You will find these barriers are weaker, easier to scale if you get them done before 10am. I cannot imagine that I am any different than most people. You may try to make the claim, “I am not a morning person.” That could actually be scientifically true, but if that is the case, then just call morning something different. Regardless, the principle that you need to knock out what is important to you first is correct.

So how do you structure your life to accomplish this? Consider this contract in your mind. Yes, a contract. A contract with the invisible entities out there in the Universe. “I will get what is most important to me done before 10am, and you can have the rest of the day.” That is right. After I have got what I need done today, then who really cares what else happens? You probably will not remember it anyway. A year from now, you will not remember what happened on January 12th. You will not know how well you did on the video game, or what post you liked. You will not remember that meeting you had to attend, or even driving the kids home from school. Sadly, you probably will not remember the people you talk to, or the many errands you have to run. However, if you get the commitments you make to yourself done everyday then you will remember this.

You will know when you finally finish that marathon, or book, or file that patent that each and everyday that you devoted to getting what was the most important done was the reason for your success. When you stare in the mirror at this stranger that is 50 lbs lighter and actually has stomach muscles, you will know. You will know that it was the mornings, every morning, where you earned that. When you hit your sales targets, your financial freedom, your growth goals, you will know. You have personal commitments that are really important to you. We all do. Get yours done before 10am, the world can have the rest of the day.


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