Dr Peggy Marshall

Commitment to Your Goals

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
-Peter Drucker

Hi Everyone!

We are now well into 2013 and you may find yourself losing some momentum towards the goals/resolutions you set for yourself at the beginning of the year.   A good check for yourself might be to examine any obstacles that are in your way to success.  Sometimes we discover that the obstacles are really excuses we make.  In fact, excuses are so prevalent in our society that Wayne Dyer wrote an entire book on them-“Excuses No More”.  We are going to focus on just a few of his 18 excuses in this blog.

The first excuse Dyer discusses is “It will be too difficult.”   What can make behavior change seem difficult is the fact that 95% of what we do is habitual.  That leaves us 5% to use for making the change.  This requires willpower-a limited resource.  However, from all the recent work around willpower, we have discovered ways to make willpower work for us rather than falling back into our habits.  First, willpower is most available in the morning and wanes as the day progresses depending upon what you encounter throughout your day.  What this means is that you need to put your most difficult change activities early in the day.  An example of this would be exercise.  If you find that you cannot keep your commitment to exercise at the end of the day, then putting it at the beginning of your day may help.  We have learned from recent studies that willpower is a muscle that can be strengthened, so think about how you can build your willpower muscle.  Once this muscle is strengthened, you may discover that your goals/resolutions are really not as difficult as you thought.

Another excuse Dr. Dyer reviews is “It will take a long time.”  When you think about it; all we really have is time.  You will reach the end of the year and will be a year older whether you complete your goals/resolutions or not.  Time will go on.  If time has become a factor in your commitment to goals/resolutions, you might want to think about how you are prioritizing your tasks.  We have 168 hours per week and they are ours to maximize.  Two resources for getting in control of your time are “What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do” by Stack and “Getting Things Done” by Allen.  If it feels too big in terms of time to stay committed to your goal/resolution, then you may want to break the goal/resolution down into more manageable parts.
How can you do a small part of the goal/resolution daily instead of trying to accomplish it in a short amount of time?  You may also find your resolve weakening and telling yourself that this is not the year to continue to pursue your goal/resolution.  A question to ask yourself is “If not now, then when?” This may legitimately not be the right time but be very cautious here because if you choose to not complete your goal/resolution now, you need to be clear when you will.

You may have discovered that your goal/resolution is costing more than anticipated and are now saying “I can’t afford it.”  There are more to costs than pure financial costs.  There are opportunity costs and relationship costs.  When we decide to make a change; that change will impact the people around us which can create a cost to us.  Also the opportunity cost can be about what we have to give up personally to make this change happen.  I frequently tell clients “Our focus is on what we want more of in our lives and sometimes forget what we have to give up.”  What we have to give up is the opportunity cost.  If this is a factor for you now, you might want to re-evaluate your goal/resolution and determine what you are truly willing to give up in order to achieve your goal/resolution.

Finally, the last excuse is “I don’t have any one to help me.”  Many times when we are trying to make a change that no one else is attempting, it may feel like you are on an island all alone.  If you find yourself making this statement, then I encourage you to use a turnaround for this statement.  “What evidence are you using to determine that no one will help you?”  Ask yourself the following questions; who have you asked and do they have the skill sets and true desire to help?  Do they have the time to dedicate to helping me?  What could I do to trade-off with people I want to help me? Who else could I ask for help? Where do people and groups congregate around this the change I want to make?  Then build your support team to help you achieve your goals!

It is very tempting to make excuses for why we are not able to sustain change.  However, if you reflect on the real obstacle to making and sustaining a new behavior and find a way to remove excuses, you might find that you have a renewal of energy and can build momentum towards your goal!

To Your Success!

Dr. Peggy