“Decide. Commit. Succeed.” – Unknown
Commitment is one of those words that we often tend to associate more with romantic relationships than anything else. The idea of “committing” to one person tends to involve a promise of loyalty and fidelity to that person and a commitment to valuing, preserving and improving the relationship over the long term. Not surprisingly, the concept of commitment is one that often makes people nervous; mostly, I think, because whole-heartedly giving yourself to a relationship makes you vulnerable. No-one likes to fail (or be failed) and failing in relationships is especially hard because of the deep emotions involved.
Money is another area of life that tends to involve deep emotions. Our ability to earn, hold and grow money is strongly linked to our experiences and beliefs in connection to money. If those beliefs and/or experiences are negative it can be very difficult to attain financial success, regardless of how much money we make. I’ve pointed out before that the basics of holding and growing money are actually really simple: pay yourself first, understand your cashflow and spend less than you earn. However, sticking to these principles is often not simple at all because our beliefs, “baggage” and desires get in the way.
Related article: Principles of saving money
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to maximize my chances of achieving the goals I’ve set for myself this year and how to minimize the chances that I’ll get off track (or completely derailed). I’ve been goal-setting consistently for the past 13 years, so I have a pretty solid understanding of what I want and what I’m capable of but recently, I’ve been paying particular attention to all the little ways that I tend to sabotage myself along the way and it’s those habits that I’m really trying hard to break over the next 12 months.
Related article: Setting SMART goals
My most recent “a-ha” moment came during a conversation with a friend. We were lamenting our lack of success when it came to getting into a consistent exercise/clean eating routine. It’s a goal that’s been on both our lists for a couple of years and, while we haven’t failed horribly, we definitely haven’t succeeded either. As we were talking, it suddenly hit me that the reason we hadn’t achieved any decent level of success was because neither of us had fully committed to the goal. We believed in the importance of the goal, we understood why it was important and how not having a consistent exercise and clean eating habit was impacting us in a negative way. Both of us wanted to make a change but because neither of us had made that change enough of a priority, because neither of us had totally committed to the change, we’d never actually achieved our goals. We had lots of great reasons for getting off track – busy schedules, weather, vacations, parties, weekends away etc. but the reality was that, if we’d been committed to making the change, none of those factors would have derailed us.
When I thought more about it, I realized that commitment was the deciding factor in my battle to conquer the debt mountain. Last year, I made significant strides in eliminating the debt that has plagued me for years. While the dent I made in the mountain was only possible because of a change in circumstances, the size of that dent was entirely due to the fact that I committed 110% to doing whatever I could to get those balances as close to zero as possible. As a result, I paid off more than $35,000 of debt last year and I’m on track to be debt-free by June 2016. I know from having tried and failed to get out of debt in the past, that what made the difference this time was being totally committed to my goal. Now I’ve tasted success, I’m not stopping! Not only am I committed but over the past 12 months I’ve built solid financial habits and strategies that will carry me forward and make this coming year so much easier than last year.
Just as we need to commit to our relationships in order to give them the best chance of success, so we need to commit to our goals in order to achieve them. It’s not enough to simply resolve to do better; we have to commit to a plan of action that will make us better. If there’s something that you’ve been wanting to achieve in your financial life but you’ve never quite managed to keep the momentum going, perhaps all you’re missing is a total commitment to your goal? A new year is the perfect time for a clean slate. Whether you’re starting or re-starting your journey towards a goal, why not take some time this week to make a serious commitment to achieving it? It could make all the difference.