Making a commitment is sometimes easy, but staying committed is most times hard. This is true of most commitments, whatever their shape or form. Nonetheless, at the start of a New Year, many people declare themes, set goals and share resolutions about what they hope to achieve in the long and short-term. Unfortunately though, some people are permanent non-starters, and their plans stay in their heads, on the papers they were written on, and/or are soon forgotten. Others might actually launch their plans with much enthusiasm, but fizzle out by the end the first month. For the remaining few, it is often a struggle to stay the course, juggle competing priorities and honor their commitments.
I am no different from those persons who struggle to stay committed to my goals. I started 2014 declaring ‘Increase’, as the theme that would guide my personal and professional goals for the year. I set lofty goals and plans to publish my Blog and post weekly, gain professional certification, pursue career advancement, lose weight, and the list goes on. For a while, I made steady progress with my goals and was feeling quite accomplished, as I successfully managed to balance everything. Suddenly, distractions and curve balls popped up everywhere. My rhythm was disrupted, and I began struggling to cope with all the changes, and challenges coming my way. Inevitably, I was unable to keep up with all the things I needed to do, planned to do, wanted to do, and some things started to slide. Blogging and exercising were the first activities to go, as did my little social life, while work, interviewing and studying competed aggressively for time. Fortunately though, I weathered this rough and difficult period, achieved some important goals (professional certification, career advancement) and things have begun to settle quite nicely.
Despite my recent successes, I’m still struggling to stay committed to my other goals. You would probably think that, success in one area of your life would automatically motivate you to push forward with your other goals. However, this is not always the case. The truth is, the road to success can be so tiring, time-consuming, energy sapping that, after you’ve succeeded in meeting a goal all you feel is relief. Relief and a strong desire to do nothing … nothing but pause, watch mindless TV, read books with titles you can’t remember, sleep, or just lie in the dark for hours of a time as you ponder what to do next.
This recent experience made me think of other people who are struggling to stay committed to the goals they’ve set. Year after year, many people struggle in their efforts to find that new job, buy that house, save to take that vacation, start or finish that degree, lose the weight and/or overcome a physical or health challenge. To the onlooker, they might seem to be failing in their efforts, but that picture of slow/no progress does not tell the full story. At times, these people grapple with matters of survival, risk becoming “burnt out”, and find it difficult to stay focused. Overtime, the lack of progress in meeting their goals can result in feelings of frustration, weaken their resolve, and ultimately lead to disinterest in continuing to pursue said goals. In turn, this can fuel feelings such as inadequacy, which further prevent them from moving forward, or even picking up where they might have dropped off.
So from one ‘struggler’ to the next, I urge you to not give up. Keep pursuing your goals. It doesn’t matter how far behind you are, or how late in the year it is, your goals are still important. Therefore, as you tackle your own life situations, here are some helpful reminders for you:
- Establish your priorities: Avoid being/becoming a slave to self-ambition,and spreading yourself too thinly. When you begin to feel overly stretched and stressed, focus on the one or two activities that are likely to produce the most meaningful impact in terms or that important goal. Anything else is untenable.
- Put a plan in place: While it good to dream, our plans should be realistic and practical. Do not set yourself up to fail by setting goals that aren’t S.M.A.R.T.
- Pause and pace yourself: Give yourself some downtime. Watch a movie, read a book, or simply do something that relaxes you. This will help you to either keep the balance in your life, or find it.
- Finish at least one thing and cut yourself some slack: You should always strive to put your best foot forward in whatever you do. But, bear in mind that your best effort at a particular point might be far from perfect. In these instances, do your best, learn the lesson(s), and accept the result(s).
- Assess yourself and your motives: Often times, the pursuit of a goal or plan can become so intense that you begin to feel burdened by the fear of failing, or what people might say or think. If and when this happens, pause and ask yourself Why am I doing this? Does the goal still serve me or am I serving the goal? The goal should always serve you and reflect your best interest –not anyone else’s. If it doesn’t, forget it.
- Have a good support system: There are times when you will need to vent your frustrations and fears as you encounter difficulties. Lean on your friends and family. They will give you the much-needed encouragement you need to keep going even when you feel you can’t.
- Practice some self-discipline: Nothing worth having comes easy. Just ask the successful people you know. You will have to work tirelessly to meet your goals, and honour your commitments whatever they are.
As the wise Jamaican Proverb says, “If yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run”.
Translation: If you want good your nose has to run.
Meaning: In order to achieve success you will have to make sacrifices and/or work hard.
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