By Kevin Peters, MS and Dr. Stephen Walker, PhD
“Everyone starts strong. Success comes to those with an unwavering commitment to be there at the end.” –Howard Schultz.
Commitment is what really solidifies your motivation and keeps you going. However, motivation is not always there. There will be lapses. What you need for the times of lapses, is commitment.
If you look at Commitment – it’s best understood on a Continuum. It is similar to the Self-Determination Theory graphic, where you have “resistant” on one side. This is where you have not bought in at one level, or, are actively working against the activity on another.
Those less prone to a negative position are likely to experience reluctance, or they may be unsure, waiting to see, coexistent, indifferent, or just going through the motions, being compliant, or simply doing what you are told.
Then there are those who are actually committed, and willing to go above and beyond what is being asked of you. The other side of the continuum ends in “being compelled.” People who find themselves compelled to act will be more likely to succeed. This continuum was developed by an author in sports leadership named Jeff Janssen.
How do we develop commitment?
Our first order of business is to focus on our values and define our purpose. Anything worth this level of effort requires us to spend time in reflection to discover what is important to you in your life.
Learn about yourself; know what values make you who you are. And then, look at your goals. Are these goals aligned with your values?
If not, change them. Move on to something else that does align with your values. As you do, you will increase your commitment to those goals. If not, you will not feel motivated to take the required action steps toward achieving them.
Secondly, write them down and define your goals in terms you can reference quickly and simply. Knowing what your goals are makes it far more likely that you will achieve them. Plus, it can give you focus, a reference for later in order to hold yourself accountable, a better understanding of the goals, and they will likely feel more like the real you.
Writing goals down also makes it more likely you will achieve your goals because that simple act of writing them down makes it more real, enables you to envision thru imagery and visualization, actually engaging in the process of working your goals, even succeeding at them. At the very least you will be reminded of your goals more frequently.
Again, know your values. Then, write down your values and write down your goals. Check to see that your goals are congruent with those values.
Let’s look at the differences between motivation and commitment. I think of motivation in the short term and I view commitment in the long term. Motivation will start you off, but commitment will finish the job.
Motivation helps you envision what you want. But there is no substitute for commitment, because commitment stands for what you get.
Motivation is what you enjoy; commitment is what you make happen. Motivation is the drive that fuels your commitment. Commitment is the decision to act on what motivates you.
You want to have both motivation and commitment, because they are both requisites for greatness.
Much like a growth mindset can help lead you towards motivation, motivation can help lead you to commitment.
People sometimes ask me, what if you have a growth mindset and motivation – but – commitment is lacking because your values don’t match. This is the kind of situation that observers note inconsistency in effort. It results in sporadic intention, training in fits and stops, or abandoning the goal altogether.
In situations where you get started towards a goal, get a little way in, but then stop. How does that happen? Sometimes, people will come back to the goal a few weeks later. They might even get a little further, but then they stop again.
I like to think of this dynamic as a hobby. It’s perfectly fine to have a hobby but if you want to be great, you really need to develop commitment.