Do you do what you say you are going to do? If you are honest with yourself, this is a question that takes some deep self-analysis. Do you eat the way you tell yourself you will eat, day after day? Do you make exceptions time and time again? Do you rationalize those exceptions to yourself? Do you do what you tell your children you will do? When you make a promise to them, do you follow through? How about promises you make to your spouse? Do you follow through on promises that you make to yourself about training your staff? Do you do what you tell yourself you will do regarding marketing and meetings with potential referral sources? Do you follow through on commitments you make to yourself regarding savings and finances?
The answers to most of the questions above are likely “sometimes” or “not often.” Hopefully the answers to some of the questions are “yes” or “most of the time.” It is good to take inventory of whether or not we live up to our commitments to ourselves and others, and it is discomforting when we realize that we aren’t doing a very good job. But it is also cathartic, because it gives us a starting point from which we can measure our improvement. The key is not to become anxious or depressed about our failures, but to become excited about improving a little bit every day.
Once you are aware of the commitments you are not living up to, it is important to determine whether you are actually committed to them. If, after some self-reflection, you decide that you are committed to something, that realization alone will cause a change in your behavior. If you realize you are not committed, you can stop telling yourself you will do it and alleviate some mental distress.
Once you consciously decide you are truly committed to something, following through on the tasks it takes to get there is much easier. Many people struggle with setting goals, in part because they are told that making lofty goals is a good way to get inspired. But for day-to-day forward advancement, in my opinion, it’s better to talk about what you are committed to. Are you committed to achieving a certain weight, having a certain gross or net income, going on vacation with your family, having an efficiently running office with great employees, your children getting good grades and going to college? Knowing what you are committed to is a great first step to becoming much more effective in how you spend your time every day.
A simple exercise is to reflect on what you tell yourself and others you will do over a period of time (a day or week). Write these things down. Then, in the process of measuring whether you actually do them, analyze whether you are actually committed to the outcome. Notice whether your behavior changes, and reflect on what this means for your commitments going forward.