Many of the choices we make don’t require a great deal of thought. For example deciding what you’re going to wear today, what you’re having for dinner, or where you want to go on vacation this year, while important, are not life changing decisions. If, in fact, you do make a bad decision in one of these areas, the consequences are pretty insignificant. (Your life isn’t going to change a great deal if you had chicken for dinner instead of salmon!) However, for those decisions where the stakes are much higher, we must make sure we’ve gathered sufficient information and given ample thought to our decision before we pull the trigger.
One of the most important decisions we make is the primary person we decide to do life with. Whether it’s a spouse, a life partner, or significant other, this person will have a very substantial role and impact in our life. As such, this type of relationship should be entered into slowly. Only after we’ve gathered significant experiences and information about the other person are we about to make a good decision.
If you’re currently in the process of making this decision about someone, before you decide, you should have answers to the following questions:
- Do you know what your own goals and dreams are and what you, specifically, want out of life?
- What are the other person’s goals and expectations from life? Do they align with yours?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits and attributes you’re looking for in another person?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits you are unwilling to settle for in another person?
- How does this person align with the previous 2 questions?
- No, really! How do they align?
- What’s their worldview and outlook on life?
- How does the other person handle conflict?
- How do they handle money?
- How do they treat other people?
- How do they treat you?
- How do they respond when life gets tough?
- What guides them in how they make decisions and live their life?
The only way you will get answers to these questions is through conversation and time together. Lots of time together, so don’t be in a big hurry. The questions above are a list you can check off in a weekend, a week, or month. To really answer these questions, I think it’s important to observe someone for at least a year, if not longer.
Nothing will affect the quality of your life more that the primary person you decide to do life with, so spend the time to seriously answer these questions, lest you rush into a bad decision.
It’s getting close to the time of year when people will start looking ahead to 2017, and part of that process will likely included listing goals for the upcoming year. It’s an exciting and encouraging activity that I enjoy doing; however, my thoughts about goals shifted slightly this week after listening to Jon Gordon on Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcast.
Goals are great because the provide direction for where we’d like to arrive in the future. Consider the following goals:
- Earn $X per year
- Lose 30 pounds
- Earn a degree
- Complete a marathon or other significant physical activity
- Buy a house
- Pay off a debt
Those are all great goals, and similar to what many people list at the beginning of each year. But here’s where my thinking has changed. I think that just a list of goals is incomplete and misses the mark, because the list alone says nothing about how these goals will be attained. What’s missing from the list is our commitment
Consider our list of goals above. It’s aspirational, for sure, but that’s about it. Now consider that same list with a corresponding list of actions we’re willing to commit to in order to bring these goals about.
Our revised list might look like the following
|Earn $X per year
||Study 1 hour per day toward the mastery of a marketable skill that would yield the salary I desire.
|Lose 30 pounds
||Stop eating sugary snacks and fast food and instead opting for healthy whole food alternatives.
|Earn a degree
||Devote 2 hours after work on week nights and 8 hours during the weekends to study and class attendance.
|Complete a marathon or other significant physical activity
||Work with a coach to develop a training and nutrition plan and adhere to it.
|Buy a house
||Save X% of my earnings to apply toward a down payment.
|Pay off a debt
||Stop using credit cards and cut out discretionary spending and instead throw that money toward eliminating debt.
Now that’s a much more compelling list! Not only is it aspirational, it has more “punch” because it describes what we’re willing to commit to in order to achieve the goal. Without commitment, we’re relegated to just hoping our goals come to pass.
As you’re considering goals for 2017, I encourage you to join me in also listing what you’ll commit to doing in order to achieve each goal. I think we’ll be amazed by what we can accomplish when we add commitment to the equation.
Is there something you’re currently trying to achieve or change in your life? Maybe it’s an educational or financial goal, or perhaps you want to improve a key relationship or even your health. No matter what change you’re looking to make, it will require commitment on our part.
The way a goal achieved or a change is made is by our commitment to consistently act in ways that lead in the direction of our goal. More simply stated, our commitment to a goal is evidenced by the choices we make.
For example, are you trying to live a healthier lifestyle? Great! Your commitment to this goal will be evidenced by the choices you make regarding eating and physical activity. What kind of choices are you consistently making regarding snacks? Do you choose fresh fruits or other healthy choices, or do you find yourself regularly opting for Twinkies, Snickers bars, ice cream and soda? The former shows a level of commitment to the goal. The latter, however, presents evidence that suggests a wavering or even non-existent level of commitment.
A great question to ask, when we’re about to make a decision is, “Will this choice I’m about to make move me closer toward my goal or further away from it?” If the answer is “closer”, congratulations! You are presenting evidence of commitment to your goal.
It’s easy to simply talk about a goal, or to have unfulfilled intentions that don’t lead anywhere significant. Let’s choose to be different and present mounds of evidence, through the choices we make, that reflect a strong commitment to our goals. For it is the consistent evidence of commitment that will pave the path to achieving whatever worthy goal we’ve set for ourselves.
This week I celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary. As I’ve ben thinking back on our 21 years, I’m reminded of the power of a commitment.
Being committed to something is far more powerful than simply being “in” something. When you’re “in” a marriage it implies there’s a way out and that you can give up at any time when things get difficult, boring, or old. There’s really nothing solid keeping you “in”.
However, when you’re committed to something, you’ve decided in advance that there is no getting out when things get tough. Commitment means you’ve already decided that instead of looking for exit strategies, you’ll look for solutions and strategies to successfully overcome issues you face. Difficulty, challenge, or boredom do not signal an upcoming off ramp, but rather remind you it’s time to double-down on your efforts. Why? It’s because you’ve made a commitment to do so.
This is true of commitment to a number of situations, including:
- A marriage
- Mastering a challenging new skill
- Establishing a good habit or replacing a bad one
- Getting in shape
- Achieving a worthwhile goal
- Building a good relationship
- Becoming a person of character and integrity
When you’re committed to something, it changes your vision. You start to see opportunities to do better and overcome obstacles, instead of excuses why can’t. You see the bigger picture you’re striving for instead of the immediate circumstance you may be struggling with. With the vision of commitment, you know where you’re going and more importantly, why.
Are there any areas in your life you need to be committed to, rather than just being “in”? Better yet, are there any areas where you need to recommit to do something you’ve let slide? Spend a few minutes thinking about these questions, and then make, or re-make, any necessary commitments you need to make. Doing so will enable you to start tapping into the power of commitment today.