5 Ways to (Finally) Commit to Your Goals

A mini workshop to get you in commitment mode.

ByABC News
May 3, 2014, 9:00 AM
Try these tips to get into commitment mode.
Try these tips to get into commitment mode.
Getty Images

May 3, 2014— -- intro: How is it possible to feel incredibly resolved to do something one minute, only to find that your can-do attitude has evaporated by the next day?

It's a question social scientists have studied for years. They've pinpointed four key factors involved in fully committing to something: how rewarding and fulfilling you find an activity; how irksome or painful it may be; how much time, money, energy, effort, care and concern you invest in it; and how you manage choices.

As an associate professor in Boise State University's department of communication, I've been studying and teaching commitment for 15 years. I know firsthand that most of us rarely consider the power of dedication, even though that is what drives our long-term decisions and goals.

Here, a helpful (and revealing) mini workshop to get you in commitment mode.

quicklist: 1category: How to (Finally) Commit to Your Goalstitle: Define your commitment url:text: Be as specific as possible so you can vividly imagine it. Use a notebook for this and the other exercises, or dedicate a note to it in your smartphone. I'll use a fitness example here and throughout, but these steps apply to all areas of life.

The what: I'm determined to commit to working out regularly by going to the gym at least three times a week for a minimum of 45 minutes.

The why: I want to have more energy and less stress, feel stronger and be leaner.

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quicklist: 2category: How to (Finally) Commit to Your Goalstitle: Make a good thing great url:text: Compile a list of things both big and small that you treasure about this commitment, which you can refer to if your resolve begins to wane. For exercising, you might list these benefits:

Feeling invigorated and in shape after a workoutFitting into the clothes I used to wear before I gained weightListening to really great music while working outConnecting with others who care about their health

Now think about what could make this commitment more worthwhile, fun or valuable and note that down. For example:

I could do a few sessions with a trainer to stay motivated.I could find some new songs through iTunes and purchase three of them today.I could try a new activity that's really fun, like a kickboxing class at the gym.

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quicklist: 3category: How to (Finally) Commit to Your Goalstitle: Sidestep pitfalls url:text: Now it's time to list (and tackle!) the troubles that could hold you back, such as:

It costs $120 a month to belong to the gym, which is kind of expensive.Everybody looks so fit that I feel uncomfortable.The gym is huge and I feel lost.The parking is horrible; I hate having to drive around.

Put a check mark next to issues you can live with. For the ones you'd like to change, brainstorm ways to deal. So to handle the challenge of feeling lost:

I could work out with a trainer.I could consistently go to the same class so I get to know some of the regulars better.I could join a smaller gym.

Identify one or two solutions that you are willing to try, and set a deadline. Even small adjustments can make you more satisfied—and satisfaction is a major predictor of commitment.

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