And like you, dear reader, we have difficulty staying committed to our goals.
Write for 6 hours a day? No problem!
Want to change the entire way you approach exercise? Sounds great!
Instead, we write twice a month, and work out for 15 minutes once, on a Sunday.
We are not slaves to our habits and that is the problem. Habits must be formed, supported, abandoned, or changed. So, says we, we says - how shall we form a new habit?
How can we support that habit?
How do we abandon dead habits or change them for the good?
A quick Google search of How To Stay Committed To Your Goals reveals that we aren't the only ones struggling with this issue:
Pick the Brain
Our first hit is a post on Pickthebrain.com. This blogger recommends establishing a few regular practices or strategies that can solidify your commitment to your goals in the time between when you resolve to achieve them, and when you've actually habituated work towards them. He calls them 'goal props'. Quickly listed - they are:
* The MantraSo, create a mantra to condition your thinking. Create regular routines or rituals to condition your practice. Make plans based on your goals to focus on the ideas you fall in love with. These tactics should lead to the auto-response, the situation of being so committed to your goals that when you need to decide whether to act for your goals or be a lazy bum, your desire to not act is overridden by your previous conditioning. These are solid techniques. the bread-and-butter of any behavior modification program.
* The Ritual
* The Plan
* The Auto-Respnse
Pickthebrain's insights are similar in many ways to the ideas of the luminaries of self-motivation, Franklin Covey, Zig Zigler, and Julien Smith.
Who's Julien Smith? Julian smith is the author of The Flinch. His premise is this: Just like championship boxers, we go through life facing many jabs, hooks, and other hazards. We can flinch. We can, potentially, protect ourselves. Sometimes flinching makes perfect sense. If an ember from a burning log flies towards your eyeball, you flinch, turn away and all is well. This momentary danger is averted; the flinch was a positive reflex. But if we were, say, a championship boxer, then danger is the name of the game. If we hope to succeed at all, we must not acquiesce to our flinch, we must be totally counter-intuitive and lean into the danger.
Life, and success in it, involves danger. It involves risk. We only get true reward from risking something we already have. Maybe it's money. Maybe it's comfort. Maybe the risk is time. But whatever it is, it is dear to us, and we flinch at losing it. Sure, the rewards for risking it are quite high. And that is why the flinch is so important to overcome.
If we condition ourselves to flinch at the inherent uncertainty of life, then we will never conquer that uncertainty. It is our own flinch-like responses to challenge that create a dynamic of perpetual give-up. And if it is giving-up that we wish to overcome, then it is the flinching at adversity that we must jettison.
My two favorite recommendations for training yourself to face the flinch is to start every morning with a cold shower (definitely a flinch inducer) and starting a conversation with a random stranger every day.
I've attended a number of Franklin Covey training seminars over the years and I think the advice offered in those courses is good for those looking to improve their quality of life.
One course offered by Franklin Covey is the Four Disciplines of Execution.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution from The FaQtory on Vimeo.
The premise the Four Disciplines is that we have no dearth of good ideas. What we have is a dearth of discrimination. "Had we but world enough and time," Marvell told his coy mistress. If we could live forever, we could accomplish every good idea we ever had. But time's winged chariot moves quickly as we march toward vast deserts of eternity, and accomplishment depends on focusing on Wildly Important Goals amidst the whirlwind of life. So write down 2-3 VERY VERY Important Things You REALLY REALLY Want To Do and make an accomplishment chart of the steps you need to take to reach the finish line.
The 3 Keys of Change
Zig Zigler passed recently, but his echoing song lives on. Let's finish this post with simplicity, the truest form of accomplishment and goal attainment. The following is a slogan I have been carrying around in my mind and mouth for the past year. It comes from Seth Godin's Domino Project based on Zig's advice for forming new habits. The slogan is based on the idea that change is possible and change results from three simple steps. Here are the 3 keys of change:
1. Small steps work
2. Consistent effort works
3. Group support works.
That is all. Please share your thoughts and struggles in committing to change in the comment section below. All the best.