“You can do it!”
That phrase is often translated to, “I think the world of you, so I believe in your ability to achieve this goal.” I’d like to challenge you to change that definition to what it really should be. The next time you find yourself thinking, “I can do this,” replace that phrase with, “I am capable of reaching this goal, so if I don’t, it’s because I didn’t commit.”
Dreams lead to goals, goals lead to commitments, commitments lead to plans, and plans lead to action. With that in mind, as you set goals (try using the SMART format here ) based on your dreams, ask yourself if they are goals you are willing to commit to. Then, make a plan based on your commitment that will drive your success. Finally, make it happen with your daily actions!
Here’s an example:
- My dream is to be in peak physical condition and to have virtually no athletic boundaries.
- My goal is to exercise regularly.
- My commitment is to participate in some form of a fitness activity 5 days per week.
- My plan is to list a large collection of fitness activities on my refrigerator so that each day, I can do something I enjoy.
- My action happens each day when I look at that list and perform the activity.
Dreams are a wonderful part of life, and I encourage you to be aware of and relish in yours. Just don’t make the mistake of stopping there, or your dreams will soon become your regrets.
What if I want to change my commitment?
Dreams rarely change, but goals, commitments, plans, and actions can and should change as you grow. Before you ever decide to change a commitment, though, you must ask yourself if your goals have shifted. If they haven’t, then one of the following will be true:
- Your commitments were unrealistic. If this is the case, you need to be careful when you make your next commitment that it is something you can actually pledge to do and achieve.
- You’ve simply decided to let yourself off the hook because your commitment has become difficult. In this case, you need to coach yourself off the quitting ledge.
How Do I recommit when I just want to give up?
Try a little self-talk. “I committed to this goal, and I have the strength and willpower to follow through on my commitment to myself (or my family, or my friends, etc.).” Or, if the carrot doesn’t work, try the stick: “If I quit on this goal, it’s not because I can’t achieve it; it’s because I am taking the easy way out and missing out on growth as a result.”
Ask someone else for accountability. Tell your friends, spouse, or coach about your goals and their associated commitments. Ask them to evaluate them honestly before you commit to ensure they are specific and realistic. Then, ask them to check in with you from time to time to remind you why you are doing it and to make sure you are still on course. The thought of letting them down may be just enough to keep you dedicated.
Dig into the “why” of your goal.
Let’s reexamine the fitness example I used above. I set a goal of 5 fitness activities per week. Why? Because that will help me realize my dream of being in peak physical condition. Why is that important? Because I want to be in great health. Why? Because I know what it’s like to be sick and out of shape. It’s miserable, and it causes you to miss out on some wonderful experiences. When I miss out on those experiences, I feel my life is being wasted, and I fear growing old with regret.
As I kept drilling into my goal, I identified what my real dream is: to grow old feeling that I really lived life to the fullest so I would not leave this world full of regret for what I didn’t do. That is something I can hold on to when I’m struggling to make it to the gym early in the morning or when social activities interfere with my commitments.
Go live your dreams!
Before the day is done, I encourage you to identify your dreams and journal them somewhere so that you can refer back to them later and add to them as you are more self-aware. Then, immediately form goals and commitments that you can discuss with your accountability partner. Have that discussion before the end of the week, then make your plan and put it into action. You can be on the path to your dream within just a few days. Once you’re on that path, you’ll be amazed at what you can and will achieve.