December 31, 2018 - Robert John Hadfield
Why some goals work and others don't.
I’ve never been one for new year's resolutions. I figure if I can’t make that adjustment to my life right now, I’m not going to be able to do it just because the calendar flips to a new year.
Goal setting, resolutions, and big life changes rarely work. And I think it’s pretty simple why.
Let me explain with a personal experience.
When I was 18 years old, I was fresh out of High School, I was relatively lean, I was working a physically demanding job and I was in decent physical condition. But by the time I turned 19, things were changing. My body stopped growing vertically, college life was underway, a more sedentary lifestyle set in, and all the while I maintained my reckless teen-age eating habits.
It didn’t take long before I started growing in a new direction – horizontally. Pants that I had purchased six months earlier no longer fit around my waist. My face seemed fuller. My shirts no longer hung loose around my body. It bothered me a little, but I really didn’t think much of it until I had some uncomfortable feedback.
One day I was visiting with an acquaintance and I made a comment about the weight I had gained. I was probably hoping for response like, “Really? I hadn’t noticed, you look great!” but instead of that reassurance, the person said, “You are supposed to look like that, you are big-boned.”
In his attempt to make me feel better, he verified that I was visibly overweight. It hurt! It riled me up. I walked out of that conversation driven to start a diet and change how I looked.
I imagine most people have had a similar experience at some point in their lives, whether it’s with your weight, an important goal or a personal shortcoming that nags at you. We all have moments that drive us to want to make a dramatic change. We start constructing plans in our mind. We tell people about our goal, we might even write it down. We get excited for the big change in our lives.
And that excitement is where our problems begin.
Emotions are an incredible short-term motivator. But they don’t last. Emotions are frequently needed to help you make a decision. But if your goal depends on an emotion or a feeling to sustain it, it will almost certainly fail. Gyms, and companies that sell diets and exercise equipment understand this principle, and they make a fortune during December. They show you images and videos of people with great bodies, they show the people using exercise equipment in beautiful homes, they display images of tantilizing food, they play exciting music, they show gorgeous people on the beach. And all of us watching these beautiful people can feel it. We imagine ourselves looking like that. We get excited, we pick up the phone, we order equipment, we buy gym memberships. And in that moment of heightened emotion we have every intention of following through with our new plans.
Then January happens.
The intense emotion we had watching the commercial is gone, and real life sets in. And by the beginning of February gyms across the country are empty again.
If we are too dependent on the emotions that led us to set the goal, we are less likely to reach the goal.
This is where commitment comes in. When the excitement and emotions are gone, the only thing left is commitment. Commitment is often the thing that sustains people who complete goals.
I made up my own definition for commitment years ago when I realized how critical it was to success. Here is my definition:
Commitment – Following through on a decision even when you don’t feel like it anymore.
Commitment doesn’t have a fragile and short lifespan like emotion. You are either committed to your goal, or you’re not.
Getting back to my story.
I tried exercising and changing my eating habits several times in an attempt to lose weight, but failed over and over. I had the emotion and excitement to get started each time, but I didn’t have the commitment. It was over a year before I finally realized the secret of commitment; once I did, everything changed. I started a running regimen, I changed my eating habits and I lost all the weight I wanted. And to this day the weight has never come back.
Emotion will motivate you to set an alarm to exercise at 5:00 a.m. But commitment is what gets you out of bed when the alarm sounds.
Oddly enough this plays into our little business. Most people in the United States have audio and video tapes that need to be archived. And it nags at them periodically. I have personally heard hundreds of stories from people who set a goal to archive all their media during a coming year – and they do it! But of the thousands of people who have actually sent their tapes in over the years, I often wonder how many people set that same goal, but didn’t send them.
In 2019 let the staff at Audiomover help you. Let us convert your old audio and video tapes into a permanent digital format. We have many different options and we can customize your project to meet your specific needs. Give us a call and let us help you keep your commitment.