In The Trenches

What will you commit to?

Published on January 3, 2022 Back to blog

I hope you had a nice holiday and, despite this virus that’s going around, you were able to spend some time with friends and family. 

Now, as the New Year begins, and we make our “resolutions,” I thought it would be apropos to write about commitments. At the end of the day, commitments are simply promises that we make to ourselves or others – most often to achieve a larger goal. For example, this time of year, many make commitments to work out more often in order to achieve a health-related goal. But as the year goes on, despite all good intentions, it becomes challenging to stick to the commitment (and the goal is not achieved).

The inability to truly commit to something is perhaps one of the greatest obstacles to achieving goals – personal and professional. In fact, Patrick Lencioni cites “the inability to commit” as one of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” in his best-selling business book of that same name (definitely worth the read). 

So, as we enter 2022 with bright eyes, bushy tails, and, perhaps, a few antigen tests at the ready, here are some tips to help you (and your colleagues) successfully make commitments:

  1. Align Them With Real Goals. Before you make a commitment, make sure it aligns with what you are ultimately trying to achieve. Otherwise, why do it? For example, if you have a goal of spending more time with your family, then consider committing to a family dinner at least two times per week. (Even better, ask all family members to commit to eating and making dinner together.) 🙂
  2. Make Them Measurable. If you can’t measure it, you can’t hold yourself accountable to it. For example, a commitment to “stay in better touch with friends and family” would be difficult to measure (and perhaps more of a larger goal as well). Instead, how about committing to “call, send an e-mail or text at least 5 friends or family members each week.”
  3. Establish Accountability. Perhaps you have the discipline to hold yourself accountable, but If you really want to increase your chances for success, ask a family member, friend, or colleague to be your accountability partner. Great teams also hold one another accountable for their commitments (and respect/appreciate one another even more for doing so).
  4. Reward Yourself. Some commitments – especially those with longer durations – can be challenging to maintain. So, consider setting milestones that, once achieved, merit a reward (or establish a reward system with those holding you accountable). For example, if you commit to dinner with the family twice each week, consider rewarding everyone with a “special family dinner” at the end of each successful quarter. (In my house that would likely be rack of lamb, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and a chocolate dessert.)
  5. Don’t Give Up. If, after giving a commitment a fair chance, you determine it truly isn’t possible to achieve – or it isn’t helping you reach your larger goal – establish an alternative commitment that can help you get closer to that goal. Otherwise, you won’t make much progress. 

Commitments are difficult. But, if you follow the steps above, you will not only be more likely to stay true to them but also be more likely to achieve your larger goals. So, what will you commit to commit to?

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners