Have you ever made a commitment that didn’t stick? Resolved to stick to a new diet, but ended up splurging on a piece of cake? Resolved to watch your expenses, but ended up buying something you really didn’t need?
When you fail to keep a commitment your brain immediately starts looking for justification. Sometimes it looks for a scapegoat. You didn’t have enough time to commit to your exercise program. You had to buy that television it was such an incredible bargain.
Maybe instead of blaming circumstances you pick on another usual target…your willpower or level of self-discipline. If only I had more self-control then I would have been able to stick with my goal...
This reasoning doesn’t really solve your problem. Although you’ve moved past blaming external circumstances, you haven’t moved any closer to a solution. Until you find a way to somehow increase your willpower or self-discipline, you will still keep failing to keep your commitments.
What is Discipline?
Most people see themselves as one individual person. Our entire self-concept is based on the idea that the person who went to bed is the same one who will wake up in the morning. You are you, right?
To explain what self-discipline really is, think of yourself as a community of people. Within myself there is Enthusiastic Shelly, Peaceful Shelly, Focused Shelly, Playful Shelly, and many others. Although there are many different variations and states of mind I can have, I only ever have one at a time.
When I go to bed I may be Tired Shelly or I could be Enthusiastic and Restless Shelly. Enthusiastic Shelly thinks it will be easy to jump out of bed in the morning, but Sleepy Shelly doesn’t seem to think that is a good idea seven hours later.
Self-Discipline is the ability to get all variations of You to agree to work together. It is the ability for Motivated You or Planning You to make a decision and then ensure that every other variation of You will stick with it.
Clarity is Key
Goals that aren’t explicitly clear on their meaning can easily be misinterpreted later.
Writing words like, “be healthy” or “make more money” are too vague to confidently and effectively communicate your goals & dreams.
To start making better commitments, write out any commitment you make with perfect clarity and precision. If this is a very important commitment you may want to enlist a friend for accountability.
Force May Be Necessary
This force is called leverage. When you give your friend a thousand dollars with the condition that she gives it back only after you have finished writing your novel, you are more likely to write it. Lazy You may not agree with the spirit of the rules enacted by Creative Writer You, but she can’t deny the cost involved in not following that rule.
Discipline requires time, effort and respect within yourself. If you find yourself continually failing to keep a commitment then you either need to start smaller or add more leverage.
Start writing down the commitments you want to make today. Back them up with leverage and build a positive momentum of self-trust and discipline. Don’t be your own worst enemy and keep the commitments you make. YOU can Live the Life of Your Dreams!