Commit to what? To your life! if you’re meandering in life, constantly procrastinating and not knowing what you should be doing, then you’re not committed. The same is true if you know what you should be doing, but find yourself not doing it, or not doing it enough.
In this post, my intention is to teach you how to become fully committed to your life. If, after reading this post – you become a teeny bit more committed then I’ve done my job.
Let’s start by defining commitment: “to devote oneself unreservedly” this means holding absolutely nothing back, giving 100% of everything you’ve got to achieve your goal. It means being willing to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. This is the warrior’s way.
Obviously, very few individuals reach this level of commitment, and to be honest, you usually don’t have to be THIS committed for you to succeed, but the more you are, the faster and/or better your results usually are.
There are levels to commitment
Level 1: Wanting: if wanting was all it took, then everyone would be a billionaire with a six-pack. With this level of commitment, you’ll take what you want, as long as it falls on your lap.
Level 2: Choosing: At this level, you’re willing to expend some effort, but you’ll probably quit at the first signs of difficulty.
Level 3: Commitment.
What stops one from committing?
There are many possible factors, such as not knowing your purpose or health factors that can contribute to your ability to commit, but at the end of the day, it boils down to two reasons.
- You don’t really want to OR
- You don’t think you can get it
Allow me to provide a concrete example…
If you were offered £1 Million and all you had to do was run a marathon, would you do it?
What about if you were offered £10, would you still do it?
What about if you were offered £10 to stroll around the park?
In this example, the money represents PERCEIVED value. The perceive cost is – the effort required, (the running) represents the cost of acquiring that value.
Now, how about if there was only a 10% chance you’d get that £1 million, would you still do it? You’d probably give it a go, but if it got really hard – you might convince yourself to give up under the guise of “I probably wouldn’t have won anyway”
The % odds of success here represents your perceived odds of success (your doubt, or lack thereof)
Moral of the story is this: you’ll only commit to something if the perceived value and your perceived odds of acquiring it EXCEEDS the costs of acquiring. Notice I didn’t say actual value or odds, that’s because they’re subjective.
As for perceived odds of success, if you believe in yourself, you’ll go for it, even if you suck. However, if you’re amazing at something but you have no belief in yourself you’ll remain on the sidelines, forever. (until you muster up the sustained courage to start and continue).
THEREFORE, to increase your capacity to commit you need to:
- Increase your perceived value of your goal.
- Increase your perceived odds of achieving goal.
- Decrease your perceived cost of achieving goal.
HOW TO INCREASE PERCEIVED VALUE (& actual):
Which of these sounds more valuable? more compelling?
- Go to school so you can get a job! OR
- Go to school so you can learn about how the world works, so you can be empowered enough to change it for the better etc. etc.
This is all about how you frame your goal to yourself. Unconsciously, we know all the benefits of acquiring our goal but we need to make them conscious since we’ll be consciously acting them out.
So whatever your goal is, make the benefits extremely vivid. Why do you wanna achieve it? what will you able to do once you achieve it? why’s that important? why? why? exactly how will your life change for the better? etc. etc. Also, equally important is to remind yourself of these benefits regularly – it stokes the fire!
HOW TO INCREASE PERCEIVED ODDS (& actual):
- Decrease Doubt
It’s very hard to doubt yourself when you’re doing the work day in and day out. Likewise, it’s very easy to doubt yourself if you’re inconsistent or worse not doing what you know you should be doing. Therefore: action is the antidote to doubt. Over time you’ll build momentum, making things progressively easier as you move closer to your goal. Once you start getting positive feedback and hitting milestones towards your goal, doubt will become a thing of the past – so just hang in there for the initial phase of your goal.
Side note on momentum: It’s incredibly powerful. Let’s say you get on your bike and you input 10 bits of energy to reach cruising speed, once you get going, it becomes effortless.
But here’s where it gets interesting.
Let’s say you now have momentum, if you input the same amount of energy (10 bits) as you did at the beginning, you’ll get a disproportional increase in speed, meaning even though you’ve put in 10 bits of energy, it will be as if you’ve put in 30 bits.
This, of course, would be a useless analogy if it only applied to riding bikes, fortunately, it applies to EVERYTHING.
Once you get the ball rolling, whether it be writing that first sentence, dialling that number, signing that first client or whatever – momentum is now in your favour and with the same amount of effort, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
2. Increase Belief
Assuming you truly desire the outcome, you’ll be enthusiastic during the pursuit relative to how likely you think your actions will be rewarded.
Like I said earlier, If you think there is a 20% chance of finishing the marathon, you’re probably gonna quit when it starts to get difficult – so increasing your perceived odds is critical if you are to succeed, another way to do this is by changing your beliefs.
- Affirmations & Visualise – These reprogramme your mind/body/emotions in the direction of what you affirm or visualise. If you affirm that you can and visualise yourself finishing marathons, your mind starts to believe that it’s really possible and gradually that lack of self-belief is no longer a problem, thus the lack of or the timidity of action this caused slowly but surely evaporates.
- Find Role models – It’s much easier to see yourself being able to run that marathon when you’ve seen many others who’ve done it, especially if they’re similar to you in some way e.g. upbringing, culture, appearance etc. etc. This helps you rid yourself of the excuse that you can’t do it because you’re too white/black/short/tall etc. etc.
3. Increase willpower:
Carrying on with our analogy, if you perceive yourself as someone who can overcome discomfort and challenges then naturally, your perceived odds of success will go up since you’re better able to cope with the thing that’s most likely going to cause you to quit.
Even if you love what you do, there are going to be things that suck about it, yet you still have to do them if you are to succeed. A scientist who loves researching and conducting experiments, not only has to be good at these things but also at administrative work, applying for grants, writing papers etc. etc. If she (you pictured a he, didn’t you 😉 did only what she ‘loved’, she wouldn’t be a successful scientist.
Another reason you need willpower – to succeed, you need to stay on the narrow path. If you want a specific outcome, there is a specific route to get there, therefore most things are simply a distraction. To resist the many, exciting, pleasurable and tempting distractions requires you develop a strong will power.
Which is actually very simple, but of course, not easy – but that’s the point.
A misconception about developing will power is that it’s done by doing typically ‘hard’ things – while there is some truth to that, the key thing is that you DON’T want to do them, not that they’re hard.
After all, the whole point is to practice your ability to force yourself to do what you don’t feel like doing, not just what’s hard.
For e.g. working out is ‘hard’ but not when you’re motivated. If all you did was a hard workout but you felt like doing it, then you’ve not exercised the capacity to force yourself to do what you don’t feel like doing, only your muscles.
In short, to develop will power – there are essentially two ways:
- DO what you DON’T feel like doing
- DON’T do what you feel like doing
Every day aim to practice at least one of these. The more emotional resistance there is, the better the training will be. Careful not to break yourself though.
Will Training Exercises:
- Resist itching – when you get an itch, instead of rushing to soothe it, wait! Just experience the sensation and see how long you can just observe the sensation. It’s a simple and potent exercise. It teaches you to respond to your feelings rather than reacting from them. This also teaches you to be comfortable with those urges so you don’t seek to run away from them at the first opportunity, thus reducing their power over you. Try observing the itch until it goes away. (the more intense the itch the better)
- Fasting – self-explanatory. Try just skipping one of your meals and learn to feel hungry without acting on it.
- Cold showers – If you can deliberately put yourself in this environment, it makes everything else you have to do that’s ‘hard’ look pale in comparison.
- Wake up half an hour earlier than you normally would – this is good practice for leaving the comfort zone, your number 1 enemy towards progress.
If you can do these will training exercises, or other similar ones, consistently (apart from number 4 as it’s unsustainable) and not just when you’re ‘in the mood’ you will develop all the willpower you need in order to be wildly successful in your chosen endeavours.
HOW TO DECREASE PERCEIVED COST:
Back to our marathon example, if you were really good at running – say you had already run a few marathons in the past, would you perceive it as costly? Obviously not!
The same principle applies to any goal you want to achieve. practice. practice. practice. and practice some mo.
- Identify the key skills/knowledge/habits that will enable you to be successful in your goal.
- Then form a daily habit of practising the above, relentlessly.
It’s simple but very hard (at first, till it gets easy – remember, walking was once the hardest thing you ever had to do!)
let’s say you wanted to be a famous musician, a generic example would be something like this.
the key skills would be:
1. Instrument and/voice mastery
If you mastered these skills, then the results will be inevitable.
How to be effortlessly committed:
Have you ever promised yourself that you’ll study for x hours and managed to show up to your desk, but could only do a fraction of what you set out to do because you were constantly distracted or generally procrastinating and meandering.
Even though your body showed up, you didn’t emotionally/mentally show up because you weren’t emotionally committed. This brings me to the key term, alignment.
How easy is it to do anything when you’re ‘motivated’ or ‘inspired’? It’s basically effortless, right? This is what it feels like to be in alignment.
It may seem like you ‘get’ motivated or inspired as if it’s something that happens to you, but what you may not realise is that you have a much larger role in this process than you give yourself credit for.
As a general rule, the more in alignment you are, the less discipline you require. The reverse is also true, if you constantly feel the need to force yourself to do stuff, you’re out of alignment.
What do I mean by alignment?
Desire or intent >Thought>Emotion>Action = Result. Let’s call this the chain of creation.
Desire is what you want to do, the mind creates thoughts and emotions, the body acts these out in order to manifest that desire to produce your result.
A sign of lacking alignment is when your thoughts (including beliefs) are against your desire, such is thinking they can’t be done, consequently, your emotions will follow suit, thus pushing you in the other direction to your goal – thus manifesting that desire has just become harder.
Another way this could manifest is when your mind wants to do something, but it’s not in alignment with your true desires, so again, it requires a lot more effort.
If you’re in complete alignment, your thoughts, emotions and body all support your true desire and there is no conflict between different parts of you.
The key to manifesting anything is consistency. If you cannot keep the chain of creation still, as in your desires/thoughts/emotions/actions change all the time – then you won’t manifest your intent.
This is how the majority of people live, they’re constantly misaligned by external things such as the weather/news/other people’s opinion etc, which alters their emotional state to the degree that they’re no longer in alignment with their original intent, which obviously means its a lot harder to act out their original intent.
This is compounded by the fact that so many external things can alter your internal state, if you let it. From sleep, nutrition to being triggered by people/events.
To make matters worse, your very own mind can cause a misalignment within you based on the way it interprets reality by creating negative thought patterns which emotionally trigger you (and drain) and once again, making acting your intent that much harder. It’s therefore crucial, on your quest to becoming committed, that you learn how to reduce this tendency, if not stop it altogether.
How to maintain a consistent chain of creation:
Filter out negative external environmental influences
The world is full of negativity (and a lot of positivity too) but if you go on the news or social media, it tends to have a bias towards negativity, so you can easily trip yourself up if you’re not careful. To combat this, avoid social media unless you’re a creator on there or it’s part of your job etc.
The same goes with the news, you’ll be fine going days without checking the news and you definitely don’t need the sensationalistic reports designed to attract the most attention (Ads $$$)
If you must be informed – you can simply look at the summarised bullet points – otherwise your energy and time is being harvested.
Before corona, when was the last time you learnt something from the news that actually made a difference in your life? I’m a big proponent of being informed, but about the stuff that I can implement that actually impacts my day to day life – like what’s happening in my industry etc. not about the 100’s of people that died today or the war going on in Iraq. Watching this stuff poisons your mind and misaligns your emotions. AND wastes your time.
2. Becoming detached from your thoughts/emotions
If you can do this, you can learn to observe the drama of your mind/emotions/body without being shaken by it. Practicing mindfulness meditation cultivates this perception.
3. Train your mind so it’s able to follow your will.
Imagine if your mouse cursor, the pointy thingy you use to click things, imagine that had a different will to you? how hard would it be to complete a task? The same principle applies to your mind. Learning to control it (which is the natural step from learning to just observe it) will prevent all the negative actions of a chaotic mind such as the emotional turbulence, amongst other benefits of course. Practice Samantha meditation to cultivate this skill. Or just some general concentration exercises.
How to maintain chain of creation:
For your thoughts, since the barrier here is limiting beliefs – I’ve already addressed how to change those. The same goes for emotions, making the benefits of your goal extremely vivid to your conscious mind will help align your emotions to your goal.
This leaves two parts of the equation. desires/intent and the body itself.
It’s easier to commit to your true desires, rather than the desires you think you should have or expectations from your culture/parents/friends etc. etc.
So knowing your true desires is critical. I wish there was a magic pill, maybe there is. But for me, it was soul searching, spending a lot of time with myself, journaling and of course, trial and error! This has also worked for many others, I’m sure it will also work for you.
As for the body, the key thing is that it does not become a barrier, if it’s tired/hungry/weak/malnourished etc. it definitely becomes a barrier to your intent/desire. Make sure it gets adequate amounts of what it needs: rest, relaxation, nutrition and some love!
The better these are, the less of a barrier your body will become to your intent/desire and the more of an ally it will become.
How to do what you know you should do.
We all know what we should be doing, if not, we know what we SHOULDN’T be doing, which is essentially knowing what you should do, so yeah – we all know what we should be doing!
So then how come very few people actually do it? lol I don’t know!
BUT – I think it’s at least partly because of this concept below.
Whatever you do – whether you think it good or bad – you find it valuable, otherwise you wouldn’t do it!
Saying to yourself, “I must stop doing x (/Netflix/smoking etc.) is essentially threatening to steal a child’s favourite toy.
Obviously, he’s going to resist this and if he sees it coming, he’s going to try and sabotage your attempts at stealing his toy. This child, of course, is your mind.
If you are to successfully and permanently entice a child to let go of his favourite toy, you have to either:
- Wait till he gets bored
- Cleverly make his toy as off-putting as possible,
- Trade a toy of similar value OR
- Entice him with a newer and bigger toy – I’ve already covered how to do this, make the benefits of the goal extremely vivid.
In terms of replacing a toy of equal value. Let me give one last example,
Say you’re addicted to Netflix, you may be doing so because you’re feeling lonely and you’re seeking a connection.
A healthier alternative may be to join some kind of club, say – fitness. Which satisfies both your yearning for connection while also simultaneously getting healthier.
Another example (okay, promise this is the last one) – say you smoke to decrease stress/feel better, you could try replacing it with mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises, which have the same reward without the negative side effects.
The point is – there is always a healthier and better alternative that is at least equally rewarding, if not more so, than your current maladaptive habit. The key to finding these solutions is to know the real reason you do these ‘bad’ habits and the value you derive from them.
To sum it up, if you seek to remove your bad habits, you either have to ensure your new habit will still provide the same value or GREATER value.
This is why I think people don’t do what they know they should do, they fail to satisfy their needs in the new form of bahaviour/habit – thus they just revert back to old patterns over and over again.