Let’s face it — staying committed to something (anything) can be downright difficult. Life just seems to get in the way, doesn’t it? Whether it’s people, things or situations, wavering in our commitment has become the norm rather than the exception. But is there a way to stay committed to something so that we follow through? Is there some formula out there that can help us see things through no matter what happens?
I don’t profess to have all the answers to everything. In fact, if you had talked to me a mere 5 years ago, you would have been speaking to a person who didn’t know how to stay committed to things. When the going got tough, I gave up. I threw in that proverbial towel. I couldn’t bother with staying committed. I was anti-commitment, if you will.
So what changed? From then to now, how did I do such a big reversal? In that time, I’ve written over 40 books. Yes, forty books. And, I’m not talking about pamphlets here — real books with substance that add value to the world and dive deep into areas like self development and technology.
Not only that, but I started two wildly-successful businesses, blogged for the Huffington Post, Forbes and Engadget, and of course, got married, had two babies, quite literally traveled the world to dozens of countries and I started this blog. I didn’t have to sacrifice my personal life. I didn’t have to give up the things that I really loved to do. I was able to do these things while still staying committed to my goals.
How did I do it? How did I stay committed to things and see them through? When other people were rushing in and out of endeavors, I was able to stick it out. As a result, today, I know a good thing or two about commitment. I know what it takes to decide to do something and actually follow through with doing it. It’s not likened to brain surgery or rocket science. It’s simple and straightforward.
The Importance of Persistence
If you want to stay committed to something, you absolutely must harbor unwavering resolution to see it through. But how do you get there? How do you stay persistent while dealing with everything else in life? I used to ask myself this very question. In fact, I even wrote a book called Art of Persistence where I talked about just what being persistent meant and why it was so important.
In fact, persistence is central to any goal we might have in life. Without this one core tendency, it’s easy to give up, especially when the going gets tough. I suppose I never really appreciated the importance of persistence until I failed repeatedly. It’s those big failures, and the ensuing lessons, where I learned just how important persistence was.
The problem? We live in an instant gratification society. We’re so used to having on-demand everything, that we forget the necessity for patience to achieve our goals. How can we go from having things in an instant to realizing the need to wait? Patience is most certainly a skill that needs to be developed over time, but there’s a lot working against us.
The worst part about this occurs when we experience failure. Failure hurts, to put it mildly. Failure equates to massive amounts of pain, and rather than suffer through that pain, we tend to flee and run in the other direction. There’s this intense fear that comes with the potential for failure that far outstrips our need to stay committed to things and achieve what some might consider to be outlandish goals.
We overcome failure through persistence. As long as we can harbor persistence, we can push through. But when we lack persistence, how are we supposed to stay committed to something? Especially after failing over and over again, our commitment will definitely wane. When that happens, it won’t be a matter of if we give up, but more so when we give up.
3 Simple Steps for Staying Committed to Anything
Okay, so here’s the deal. Clearly, staying committed to things isn’t the easiest undertaking. Even though it might sound simple, we all know that it isn’t. Still, I like to boil things down to their basic and most fundamental components to see what works and why.
After analyzing my own behavior and the behavior of some of the most successful individuals in the world, I’ve come up with 3 “simple” steps for staying committed to anything. I say “simple” in quotation marks because, although the steps might sound simple, we all know that following through isn’t quite as easy.
However, in order to really achieve this, there’s some analysis that needs to be done on your behalf before marching through. That analysis will be at the very heart of your ability to stay committed. The more thorough you’re able to conduct your analysis, the better your chances for success will be.
Why conduct a thorough analysis? Well, did you know that, for example, 92% of people who set New Year’s goals give up? That’s a big number. Other studies have proven that most people give up on goals who don’t actually write them out to begin with. And it’s in that writing that the analysis must occur. But by writing your goals out, you’re also bringing them to the forefront of your mind.
All told, if you want to stay committed to something, anything, and you want to see things through and be persistent, here are the 3 simple steps you need to take.
#1 — Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals
The problem that occurs during the loss of commitment to our goals and dreams is that we didn’t conduct that careful analysis I spoke of. That analysis is a prerequisite to achieving anything in life. And it can’t just be done in the mind and kept in the abstract. It needs to be real and written out on paper in front of you.
The act of writing out our goals is of monumental importance. Without doing so, we’re essentially telling ourselves that, yes, we have these goals, but we don’t believe in them deeply enough to write them down. We’re saying we don’t believe in our ability to achieve them because we haven’t taken the time to write and plan for them accordingly.
How are we supposed to achieve things when we have the ultimate power of our subconscious minds working against us? To stay committed to anything, we have to implant those thoughts into our psyche. And to do that, the goals need to be written down using the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. method of goal setting.
Here’s how this method works. Take your goal and really think about it. Give it an exact nature. Become highly specific about what you actually want. I mean specific down to the last little detail. Pretend like you’re picking the options on a car you’re about to buy, or searching for the exact home you want to live in.
The “S” in the SMARTER method, refers to its specifics. The specifics must be, yes, you guessed it, very specific. Don’t just say you want to be rich. Don’t just say you want a better job. Don’t just say you want to live in a mansion or buy a sports car. Get very specific. Come up with the exact amount of money you want to earn or have in net worth, the exact job you want, or the home you want to live in.
The “M” in the SMARTER method means that the goal has to also be meaningful enough to see things through so that you don’t actual give up and you stay committed to it the entire way. Those meaningful reasons have to be deep-rooted reasons. They can’t just be superficial. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s the meaning behind it?
If you’ve set a goal in the past and you gave up, it might not have been meaningful enough to you. But, I would wager that when you wanted something so badly that no matter what happened it wouldn’t stop you, you were able to see things through. The goal was meaningful enough to you that you cancelled out all excuses and overcame all obstacles that stood in your path. That’s what it takes.
The “A” in the SMARTER method means it should be an achievable goal. While I believe wholeheartedly in the Law of Attraction and setting really big goals, you also want to ensure you can reach those goals. For example, don’t say you’re going to earn $1 billion in the next six months.
Setup a more achievable goal like $10 million in the next 12 months and create the next best smartphone app or the hottest tech startup, then build off of your momentum. Everything takes time, but it’s all achievable as long as you keep pushing and don’t give up. But you still need to ensure that the goal is achievable.
The “R” refers to goals that are relevant. You want goals that will be relevant to your life and its purpose. If you try to set goals that, for example, go against your core value or beliefs, you’ll be met with a huge amount of friction and frustration.
The “T” refers to goals that are time-based. Pick an exact date that you’ll achieve this goal down to the specific day. Don’t just say one year from now. Pick the date. Selecting the date is really important. The date sets that goal in stone. It allows you to measure that goal, giving you a metric to help determine just how close you’re getting.
The “E” refers to evaluated. If you want to stay committed and keep pushing through, you have to constantly evaluate your goals. What type of progress are you making? How far have you come? The last “R” refers to re-evaluating. So, if you’re not making progress, you have to see what needs to be done differently and change up your approach.
#2 — Create a Massive Action Plan
It’s not just about setting SMARTER goals to stay committed to things, you also have to create a massive action plan. This includes the general steps that you’re going to take to go from Point A to Point B. Whether you want to lose weight, earn more money, start a business, or stay committed to just about any other goal, you need a massive action plan.
Think about this for a moment. When you book a flight to travel somewhere, that airplane has a goal. Its goal is to go from one city to another city on a specific date and arrive at a specific time. However, in order for the airplane to achieve its goal, it needs a massive-action plan.
Do you realize all of the things that go on behind the scenes in order to get an airplane from one city to the next? Do you realize the amount of people involved with that goal? It’s an enormous undertaking that includes the pilots and crew, the airline itself, the fueling industry, the air-traffic controllers, the airport security personnel and others.
There are countless people involved in that goal. In fact, there’s a massive-action plan to get that plane from one city to the next. But that’s not all. Once all of that has been coordinated, the plane needs its own massive-action plan. That’s called its flight plan.
The flight plan of a plane includes the direction of travel, the general speed, the altitude, and so on. There are millions of small steps that are included. Now, you don’t need to be this detailed, but you do need to know the general direction of travel. What are you going to do to reach your goals? If you don’t have a plan, you won’t end up staying committed.
Create a massive action plan right now. If you’ve already done your SMARTER goals, then you need to map out a plan of attack. How are you going to get there? How will you earn the money, lose the weight, buy the house or start the business, for example? You have to at least know the direction of travel to get you there.
You also have to measure and track your results along the way. This way, you know whether you’re getting closer or further away from your goals with each passing day. As you get closer, this will also help to build some momentum, allowing you to stay ever-more committed to the end goal. You can see how far you’ve come and you know just where you stand.
When you fail to measure and track your progress, how can you possibly know that your massive action plan is panning out? How could you possibly know that the steps you’ve outlined are paying off? You wouldn’t know, and it would help to obscure your goals from you, further clouding your ability to stay committed.
When that same plane travels from one city to the next, it must measure its progress down to the last second. This way, it can adjust its approach. And, when obstacles come into its path like turbulence, on-coming storms, or air-traffic congestion, it can adjust its approach. This is the “R” for re-evaluating in the SMARTER method.
Setup a good system for tracking your results as you push towards achieving your goals, whatever goals they might be. It’s in that constant analysis that achievements are made. It won’t happen overnight, in weeks, or even in months. But, in time, it will happen as long as you stay focused.
#3 — Effectively Manage Your Time
The third “simple” step to staying committed to things is to effectively manage your time. One thing that I always say is that time is the greatest equalizer. No one has more time than the next person. It doesn’t matter who they are, they still only get 24 hours in a day. No more than that.
Clearly, success in life and staying committed to things doesn’t have to do with the amount of time we have, but rather how we use the precious time that we all have in common. Do we squander the time we have? Or do we use it wisely? Do we procrastinate, or do we leverage every last second to help better progress towards our goals?
Speaking of procrastination, this is quite possibly one of the biggest detractors from staying committed to our goals. And, when you fail to set SMARTER goals and to write those goals down, it’s easy to procrastinate. When what you want is just an abstract concept in your mind, we can put it off for another day, over and over again.
Setup a good system for managing your time and be efficient about it. I posted about one system for time management that I use here. If you don’t use that one, find another one that works for you. The point? Get really efficient about where you spend your time and try to avoid wasting your time at all costs.
Keep in mind that things build momentum the more you do them. That’s how habits are formed. With the right habits in your life, you can accomplish anything. It’s easier to stay committed to things in your life when you’re not plagued by bad habits you need to quit and your life is replete with good habits to help push you towards your goals.
And while this and the other 3 “simple” steps might sound simple or straightforward, of course I know that they’re not. It all boils down to persistence. However, your level of commitment to anything has a lot to do with the amount of detail you put into these three steps, so be sure to take them seriously enough if you want to stay committed to your goals and see things through rather than giving up.