This is a short post about commitment and how it is the fuel for achievement.
In 2012, I started writing the story of my adventures in Africa as a series of blog posts in the Memorable Moments category on this blog.
Over the next 15 months, I wrote 18 posts with a final one in memory of my mother after she died January this year. Altogether around 20 000 words or one fifth of a reasonable sized book.
Not a good rate of output and at that rate it would take 6 or 7 years to finish the book. I also realised that many parts of the book would not fit with the new direction of the blog since I changed its focus earlier this year. That gave me an excuse to put off any more work on the book. It is always easy to justify procrastination to ourselves when we have a good, rational and convenient excuse at hand.
The fact that I had not written a single word of the book for 5 months has been weighing heavily on my mind. Guilt and a sense of disappointment in myself.
A few months ago, I joined Chris Brogan’s OMFG programme of daily emails and participation in a closed group of fellow subscribers on Google+. Many of the emails have provided me with a good wake up call, a virtual kick in the pants. The last few have been about commitment, keeping going when the going gets tough, grinding it out.
I have also been reading that the only way many successful writers manage to get books or articles written is to make a commitment to write a certain number of words or for a certain period of time every day, before doing anything else.
On Sunday when I was preparing my schedule for the week, I made a commitment to get up an hour earlier and write a minimum of 1000 words every morning. I started on Monday, up at 5:30, no tea, just let the dog out, a quick teeth – toilet – shave routine, throw a shirt and shorts on, grab a big glass of water and up to my office. All that takes 15 minutes, I switch my computer on at 5:45 open up Office and start writing. No connecting to the internet, no email, nothing but writing until the daily target is reached.
The first day I did not write 1000 words, instead of blindly writing, I reviewed the hard copy of what I had written so far, set up a spreadsheet to better plan an outline for the book, had a first attempt at arranging proposed chapters and entered the titles of all the bits already done.
I have woken before the alarm clock and got up at 5:30 every morning since then, in four days I have written 4567 words. Not all good, much editing will be required, but in a week, I have written almost 20% of what it took me 15 months to do previously.
That is the power of commitment, I am determined to have the book completed and published before the end of this year.
The reason this post is shorter than usual is due to different commitments. A whole hierarchy of conflicting commitments.
Since my heart attack in 2010, I have kept a tenuous link with agriculture by helping a local farmer for a short period each spring and early summer with his greenhouses. It takes at most two hours a day to go around the greenhouses, checking plants for disease, adjusting watering systems. I had not intended doing it this year as I have too much else going on however he could not find any one else so I agree to do it for one more year. By agreeing, I committed myself to doing it.
I generally do the greenhouse visits between 9 and 11 am. I have another commitment, a daily call with a coaching client at 12:15, and on Fridays other commitments in late afternoon and evening. On top of that, I am committed to writing a post for this blog every Tuesday and Friday, it needs to be published before 4 pm to meet the autoresponder schedule I set up.
Today there is a webinar I plan to attend at 1 pm. Not a commitment as such but something I want to fit into today’s schedule.
When I checked on the largest greenhouse this morning, I noticed that a bearing on one of the big extractor fans had failed. It needs attention, I did not have time to attend to it before my 12:15 call, it needs to be done this afternoon.
Suddenly I have a whole hierarchy of conflicting commitments. That’s why this post is short.
It will be tight, but they are all commitments, they will get done.
How good are you at keeping your commitments?