Yes there is one simple trick to set your commitment in concrete, make it as enduring as if it was cast in a tablet of stone. Just like the ten commandments.
Assuming it is a real commitment to take steps towards a real goal that is unquestionably yours, one that you are determined to achieve, not something that sounds good, a “nice to have” wish, there is.
It’s called habit.
Create a habit of completing the small daily action steps needed to fulfill your commitment and you will find that completing those steps gets easier, you will get to the stage where you will look forward to doing them. You will anticipate the good feeling you know you will get when you have completed the step for today.
How long does it take to create that habit?
It varies, but most people who have studied the subject estimate a minimum of 3 weeks for it to become automatic. James Clear explains it here. I found that when an injured shoulder made it painful to put my jacket on left arm first, it took 3 weeks for me to automatically put it on right arm first without thinking about it most of the time. Months later when the shoulder had fully recovered, the habit persisted for many more months.
A habit starts to form as soon as a pattern begins to be established for new actions, or a new pattern is introduced to modify old actions. This can be within a few days. But starting is not enough, the habit must be encouraged, watered and fed like a tender plant until it can support itself.
Last week, in this post, I made a commitment to write my book this year, starting the routine of getting up at 5:30 am and writing for an hour before anything else 5 days a week. It got easier every day. Yesterday after sleeping an hour later over the weekend, I was still awake before the alarm went off and at my desk writing on schedule. The same today.
It’s a synergistic cycle, if the goal is real, and you are determined to achieve it, you will commit yourself to doing whatever is needed.. When you take the first steps you will strengthen your commitment, reinforce your determination and nurture the habit of taking those steps. Incremental progress keeps the cycle going and strengthening. Once the habit is established, it will give you the resilience to overcome obstacles and setbacks that may lie ahead. It will also help you take action, overcome the paralysing inertia of fear.
Some commitments require less frequent steps. Habits can still be formed to reinforce those commitments. In the last post I wrote about stepping out of my comfort zone to play the guitar on stage for the first time. There were very few people in the audience, but it gave me the confidence to do it again and was the first step in making the weekly Friday night practice a habit, it also added more determination to improve and reinforced my commitment to practice 6 days a week.
It was fortunate that the bad weather had kept people away for my first venture at playing in public. The warm weather on my second visit had brought an audience of over 50 people. An added difficulty was because of the cascading commitments that had piled up that day that I wrote about in the previous post, we arrived a few minutes late. First we did not find a convenient parking, second the big crowd meant that the stage had been opened up so that the audience could sit outside under a huge tent. Third, I could not quietly slink into a back corner of the stage without being noticed.
I had made a commitment to play. The fact that I had survived the previous session helped me overcome the fear of making a fool of myself before a larger audience. During a break I took my guitar, found a spot near the back of the stage and joined in. Only a slight improvement over the previous week but I did it.
That’s how to cast your commitments in concrete, form a habit of doing the steps that you must do, accept that sometimes fear will try to hold you back but go ahead and do what you have made a commitment to do anyway.
p.s. I am finding the daily OMFG emails from Chris Brogan and the sharing of brilliant ideas in the group discussions a great help in reinforcing my commitments. Here’s the link to try it out. OMFG (affiliate link)