This post was written months ago with the provisional title ‘Keys to Success’. Reluctant to post, I left it to one side.
Yesterday during a brief conversation with a younger friend, she asked if I could write about success and not being where you would like to be. I directed her to Birthday Blues. I sensed her frustration and I could relate to it. It’s that time of year when many have gone back to school/work after summer. The end of 2016 is slowly creeping up on us, which means moments of reflection, and an abundance of mental Q&As. And at this time of year this cycle of reflection is fairly common.
During the conversation with this friend, I wanted to ask what was stopping her from being successful, what was preventing her from becoming this person she longed to be and what was hindering her achieving her goals? Knowing her I predicted her responses and decided to dig up ‘Keys to Success’, but have this post focused on one specific component of success; Commitment.
When you see people you consider successful or people you admire. Have a deep think about how they got to where they are and what it took. I’m sure their journey to success involved a lot of hard work, consistency and a tenacious spirit in the midst of knock backs and setbacks. Most people don’t like sharing the tough and trying times; so we’re fooled into believing the road they walked was jolly and smooth.
When we take a closer look at these people, a current theme can be identified; unrelenting dedication aka COMMITMENT. This means whether they had an entourage of supporters they were committed to their goal. When things looked bleak, they were committed to their goal. When things were going well, they still remained committed to their goal.
In my books, commitment is a synonym of sacrifice. When Jesus addressed the crowd regarding the cost of following Him, He asked: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?’ (Luke 14:28) I believe He asked this question because many people like the sound of doing something great, or the idea of becoming someone great, failing to realise that something will have to give.
You must first consider; what it will take, what will be required of you, what will need before embarking on projects, ‘For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you’ (Luke 14:29).
Let’s look at some of these costs:
Time: We all have the same 24 hours, and 7 days a week. How do you spend yours? What are your priorities? What do you commit to that you don’t need to? What do you fail to commit to, that really deserves your time?
Money: What are you spending your money on? Do you invest in yourself/ your idea/your business/project? Do your expenses reflect what you want and who you desire to become?
‘Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.’ (Matthew 6:21).
Immediate Pleasure: You may have to give that show on Netflix, or impulsive purchase a pass for now as you focus on your goal. Are you able to delay immediate gratification?
Social Events: You may have to skip a few social events to give yourself extra time to work on that project.
Sleep: Again you may have to forfeit a few hours to work on that impending deadline…it’s just for a season. Ask yourself do you sleep too much? Are you lazy? Do you procrastinate?
‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.’ (Proverbs 24:33-34).
Character: This will be tested and tried. Your response to issues will highlight your strengths as well as areas which you need to work on. Be prepared to make mistakes, some publicly, but always be open to correction.
‘[…]the one who heeds correction gains understanding.’ (Proverbs 15:32).
Discipline: Developing strategies, and turning practices into habits and a lifestyle. Are you able to devise a well thought out to do list, and follow through? Are you able to discern between urgent and important?
People: Some people may have to go, or certain relationships may have to take a backseat for the time being if goals and visions are not aligned. This doesn’t mean dropping friends, but apply wisdom as to who you are spending time with and how much.
‘Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?’ (Amos 3:3)
Think about some of your goals and dreams. Have you sat down to have a real conversation with yourself regarding the cost? Are you willing to make sacrifices; give up a little bit of ‘now’ pleasures for a greater gain?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in favour, chance, breaks and opportunities, but more and more I’m starting to realise the power of commitment and consistency. If you want to be successful, you have got to be focused and put in the work.
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand in the presence of kings. He will not stand in the presence of unknown men.
Diligence is: ‘Constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind’ (definition from Dictionary.com)
Commitment is the part that sifts the wheat from the chaff, the adept from the inept, and the mediocre from the outstanding.
We all know we live in a microwave generation, where there is great emphasis on ‘now, now, now’. Many of us don’t like to or even know how to work hard. We want the greatest gains with minimal input. This mentality of immediate gratification is evident in our attitude towards things and our physical inability to endure. When things don’t work out as expected we give up, and label it as a fail.
Commitment is the separation process. Being diligent means not giving up after the second, third and even fourth try- if it’s something you really want. Commitment distinguishes the capable from the incapable and the lazy from the skilled.
Take time out to set yourself SMART Goals. You have your bigger goal; break it down to Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound goals. The smaller and more specific the goal the easier it will be to achieve, because you have a plan of exactly what you should be doing, when, with whom and with what resources. This increases your level of adherence to the goal and ups the likelihood of success. A smaller goal achieved encourages you to continue, and also contribute to your overall bigger goal being accomplished.
Whether your goals are tiny, small, or massive you have to apply yourself. Tell yourself this is what I have set to do, I will give it my best shot and stick at it till it’s completed. That is commitment.
Do not compare yourself to others; you don’t know what they are doing behind closed doors. Think about when you were in school and you had tests or projects. You always had those people who you would chill with, making you think you were on the same level. Unbeknown to you those A* kids were committed to success. I wondered how they did it when we spent so much time together and I didn’t see them study. But the truth is when no one was there they reminded themselves of their commitment to achieving high grades and applied themselves by studying.
Even when things seem to crumble before you, pick yourself up and remain committed – that is diligence.
Think back to a moment or a task that you set out to do; you gave it your all, and were consistent in your actions. How did it turn out? Honestly? Probably better than all the other things you set out to do halfheartedly.
Commitment involves a change in mind-set accompanied by changes in behaviour.
Challenge your current self by asking:
- Have you ever started something and actually seen it through? How did it turn out?
- Do you start, stop, give up, start again then eventually stop?
- Are you able to put aside immediate gratification for future pleasure?
- When you say you are going to do something, be somewhere do you fulfil it?
- If you were absent and people saw your work – would you be embarrassed, ashamed? Would you need to be there to justify you work, its quality?
- When you do deliver is it the best of your ability? Or do you just get the job done, for the sake of getting it done even if it means quality is compromised?
- Are you reliable? Can you be counted on?
- Do you need others to spur you on? Can you go alone? Do you reach out to people outside of your circle?
- Are you easily distracted? Do you find it difficult to make decisions?
If I provided my answer to the above questions I’m sure you would all see that commitment for me is a real struggle.
Commitment means not giving up despite the tough times. Commitment means putting your best foot forward every time, even if no one is looking. Commitment gets you noticed. Commitment pays off. And your commitment will show and be rewarded!
On that note, I renew my commitment to this blog. I hereby commit to my initial aim of two posts a week. I’d love to know what you’re committed to. Please share by commenting below so we can be accountable to each other.
In truth and with love