Growing up, my family always taught me to keep my commitments, no matter what. It was always a matter of honor to do so, and my father used to say, “A good man always does what he says he will.” Usually, he said it when I was trying to put off my household chores.
What I’ve found over the years is that success goes far beyond being simply a matter of honor. Is keeping your commitments the right thing to do? Absolutely, but we’re missing half of the argument. It is possible, at least in theory, to keep your honor simply by not making any commitments—if you make no commitments, then you don’t risk not keeping them. But that’s the lazy person’s way out. The act of making the commitment has value in and of itself, and getting into the habit of keeping them is what makes your life successful and satisfying.
Let’s look at what the essence of a business is—any business at all. A business is just a set of commitments made by a person or group of people to deliver a product or a service. Wrapped around that main commitment of delivering a product or service, are several related commitments—you commit to delivering your product or service at a fair price, in a timely manner, or in as many colors, varieties or flavors as the customer wants. When you go to an ice cream parlor that advertises “33 flavors”, that’s what you get—there are 33 buckets of ice cream in the cooler. That’s a commitment, and what the ice cream parlor’s advertising campaign is based on. If there are only 32, you have to dispatch your clerk to the back room to bring out a new one, or else you might lose a customer that wanted that 33rd flavor.
Setting career goals as well as personal goals means you have something in mind that will ultimately benefit you. Maybe it will benefit you financially, or it can be a goal that will give you personal satisfaction, spiritual strength, or enjoyment. It can be something as simple as having a big-screen TV in your living room, or something as ambitious as becoming a millionaire—or even something as ambiguous as promoting world peace. But in setting and achieving goals, the most important step is to transform those goals into commitments.
A goal by itself is just somewhere you want to be. A commitment means you’ve made a decision that you’re going to get there.
When we talk about setting and achieving goals, we have to set those goals in a framework. When you set your goals own into a goal setting template, you write down what those goals are, write down a strategy, the steps you need to take to achieve the goals, and the people and resources you need to help you achieve your goals. But once you’ve created that set of goals and imagined the details of carrying it out, you have to give it teeth. You empower your goals by wrapping a commitment around it. Without the commitment, it’s nothing more than a nice idea.
Now that we understand that a goal never gets accomplished unless a commitment is made, let’s look at the commitment—or more than likely, the series of commitments—that must be made to achieve your goals. This is one of the most important goal setting tips you’ll ever encounter: commitment goes further than just saying, “I’ll do it.” To be truly successful, you break down that commitment into many commitments that are very specific in nature. To have a goal of becoming a millionaire, and then to commit to the concept, is a good start—but it doesn’t say anything about actual strategy.
When you set out your goals and the commitments that accompany them, it’s important to be very specific. Use hard metrics and include timeframes. Why is all this important? Your ability to make and keep commitments is what drives success. It’s easier to keep a goal that has a firm, specific commitment wrapped round it. And when you do keep those commitments, you are seen as credible and trustworthy—and once you have that reputation, success comes naturally.