This Article Continues From Part 3
#3: Devoting 100% Commitment to Your Dreams – I Can
Your desire and commitment toward your goals fuel your perseverance.
Successful people know that you don’t get something for nothing.
They make full use of the Law of Cause and Effect, knowing that to get the effect they want they need to be the cause, and that usually entails hard work and effort (which we will discuss in greater detail in the next article on broadening your SCOPE, E: Energy, Effort, and Enthusiasm). And for that, you need commitment.
You can always control what’s going on inside your mind, like your attitude and your commitment, but you can’t always control what’s going on outside of yourself.
So successful people work on what’s going inside them as much or even more than what’s going on outside them. They work on what they can control, not what they can’t control.
There is a school of thought that states there are no obstacles in life, only the lack of clarity of the path ahead. The only obstacles you face, therefore, are self-created. Your failure to see clearly, in other words. Your failure to focus. Your failure to remain undistracted.
As within, so without. A vague and cloudy idea of who you are, what you want, and how to get there is mirrored in your external world. The feeling that you’re stuck in a rut, or you’re going around and around in circles, is often the direct consequence of the lack of clear vision.
Essentially, it’s a failure to utilise the Law of Cause and Effect to your benefit.
Remember, thought is first cause, so that’s the first thing you need to get right.
Your thoughts are the ideas and concepts you want to see materialise and made real in the outside world. These are usually ideas and concepts of who you want to be, what you want to do, and how you are going to do it. If they are hazy and vague, the effect will be a direct reflection of those unclear thoughts and uncertain ideas.
Let’s use the formula of The BreakThrough Solution to explain how this works:
- Define who you are—I’m unsure; actually, I don’t know.
- Define what you want—well, I know what I don’t want, but I’m not sure exactly what I do want.
- Design how to achieve it—achieve what? I don’t even know what I want to do.
About 5 years ago, even though I had achieved a moderate amount of success, I reached a point where I felt as though I was going around and around in circles. I was doing a lot, but not getting the results I wanted in business and in my own writing. The ‘hamster on the wheel’ is a good analogy of my working day back then—running fast but not actually getting anywhere.
My day was busy, very busy, usually starting with getting my daughters up for school, making their breakfast and lunch, driving them to school, then off to meetings, checking emails, and getting bogged in administration and paperwork for my business, DoctorZed Publishing. And that was just by 11am.
Then it was writing my own books, developing workshops, creating online courses, blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, and any other social media platform I could find to promote my content.
Then it was editing manuscripts for clients and authors, creating covers and interior layout design for books, converting books to ebooks, then distributing those books and ebooks to online platforms such as Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and hundreds of other retailers.
Then it was time to pick up the kids from school, take them to piano lessons, netball practice, netball games, singing, dancing, roller skating, swimming lessons, basketball practice, softball games, ice skating, and any other extracurricular activities they wanted to do.
Then it was rushing back home to cook dinner, wash the dishes, wash the clothes, dry the clothes, iron the clothes, put the garbage out, clean the gutters, mow the lawns, chop the firewood, water the garden, poison the weeds, help the kids with their homework, fix the trampoline, read bedtime stories, and prepare for the next day.
And that was just Monday!
I was like a human hamster 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I did a lot but wasn’t achieving a lot, especially with my personal goals, which I seemed to have pushed down the list of importance after family and business. I felt like a jigsaw puzzle scattered across the table, with lots of pieces to put together but no definite picture to work from.
I realised I needed to get a clearer picture of who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and how I was going to do it. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was struggling to find a common link connecting everything I was doing and to help me put all the pieces of the jigsaw together.
It was around 2015 that I realised where the problem was—with myself. Or more precisely, with my focus. I had inadvertently created obstacles on my path by focussing on the wrong thing.
As a writer and storyteller at heart, my focus was obsessively on books. Books, books, books, books, books! I lived and breathed books. I thought constantly about books. Writing books was my first thought when I woke up in the morning, and my last thought when I went to bed at night. I wanted to be a bestselling author, I wanted to make a living from writing, and so books dominated my waking thoughts and my nighttime dreams.
But my obsessive focus on books had blinded me to the bigger picture. I thought books were the big picture, but they were only one piece of the puzzle. So, in effect, I had been trying in vain to complete the jigsaw picture using only one or two pieces of the puzzle.
As such, it was difficult to commit 100% to a grand vision because I wasn’t really sure what I was committing myself to.
In a moment of despair, I threw my hands in the air and grumbled to myself, “I don’t know what to do anymore. Nothing I do seems to be working.”
Then I remembered something a business coach once said to me in a workshop: “Think content, Scott. Content!”
Suddenly, as if the jigsaw box had been shaken and all the pieces tipped out and laid into a completed picture, I saw how everything fitted together.
Everything I was doing—books, ebooks, audiobooks, workshops, webinars, courses, online courses, coaching, mentoring, email marketing, newsletters, messaging, social media, video, podcasts, blogging—all slotted into place.
It was content I should be focussing on, not books. It was the underlying message of my content that was the glue that held all the pieces together. The books, ebooks, workshops, and all the other formats were just platforms for delivering my message.
I had been focussing too much on the delivery method, not the content I wanted to be delivered. I had obsessed too much on the platform, not the message.
You see, there are readers who will never read my book, but they’ll read my ebook. There are clients who will never do my online courses, but they’ll gladly attend a workshop. There are followers who will never listen to my podcasts, but they’ll happily read my blog.
Same message, different platform.
I finally understood that it was the message that’s important, not how the message was packaged, and my message is simply this:
You already have what you’re looking for.
Probably more so, you already are what you’re looking for, which is Life. You already are where you want to be, which is here and now in the present moment.
Yet, for long periods of my life, I had thought of myself first and foremost as a writer where, in fact, I’ve always been a messenger. I saw myself as a storyteller, whereas storytelling was just my preferred platform for delivering my message.
It could have been singing, or painting, or dancing, or acting, or any number of alternative platforms, but I had always been attracted to writing and storytelling as the means by which I wanted to get my message to the world.
My message is transformational. I am a messenger, a transformologist, delivering that message through writing and storytelling. I’m delivering that message now to you through this book.
To clarify this important point, here’s how everything I do fits together using the formula of The BreakThrough Solution:
- Define who you are—a transformologist, a messenger.
- Determine what you want—to help 50,000,000+ aspirational people who want to transform their lives for the better (see “How I Help” in Part 2 of Planning, Preparation, and Perseverance).
- Design how to do it—through multiple platforms, such as books, ebooks, audiobooks, workshops, courses, coaching, mentoring, blogs, videos, podcasts, social media, and so forth.
Now I just have to roll up my sleeves and do it.
But here’s the important point: having the clarity of who I am, what I want to achieve, and how I can go about doing it lifts the mind fog and makes the path ahead so much clearer and well-defined.
When you have clarity, you can focus your thoughts and minimise distractions, thus removing many obstacles on your path to your chosen future.
Having clarity also has another benefit: it makes it easier for you to commit to your path, and commitment helps you to keep moving forward and persevere.
You might be able to see clearly ahead, but if you don’t commit to your path you might give up when the going gets tough and stop before you cross the finish line.
Business coaches tell us the Number 1 reason 50-80% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years of operation is not cash flow, not production issues, not staffing, but commitment.
Of course there are multiple headwinds a business owner must face when starting out, but it is the failure of small business owners to commit 100% to their business that is the main reason their business doesn’t succeed.
Nothing less than 100% commitment will do the job. Not 50% commitment, not 75% commitment, not even 98% commitment. Only 100% commitment to the business will make the difference between being in that 50-80% of businesses that fail, or being in the 20-50% of businesses that will still be around in 5 years’ time and thriving.
The same is true for the dreams you have for the future and the goals you set. Your success depends on how committed you are, and only 100% commitment will do the job. Not 50% commitment, not 75% commitment, not even 98% commitment. Only 100% commitment to your dreams and goals will make the difference between failing and disappointment, or successful accomplishment and enjoying the fruits of your work.
The parable of The Chicken and the Pig illustrates the difference between being fully committed to the success of something and having an interest or investment in it.
Two friends, a pig and a chicken, wanted to go into partnership with each other and start a business. They discussed many options and settled on starting a cafe, where they would focus on breakfast meals.
The pig agreed that he would provide the bacon, and the chicken agreed that she would provide the eggs.
Both were important to the production of the breakfast meals, but the business failed because only the pig was 100% committed to its success, whereas the chicken only had a vested interest.
For the pig, there was no other option but for the venture to succeed. For the chicken, however, the success of the venture was neither here nor there.
So, how much of yourself are you putting into the fulfillment of your dreams? How much of yourself are you committing to your success? Are you like the pig, fully committed, or are you more like the chicken, with just a vested interest?
It’s interesting to note that it’s actually easier to be fully 100% committed to something than, say, being only 98% committed. Clayton Christensen, a former Harvard Business School professor, put it this way:
“It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.”
Let’s use two imaginary characters, Jack and Jill, to illustrate this point. In this story, Jack and Jill don’t need to climb a hill to fetch a pail of water, but they do want to eat healthier and lose a few winter kilograms for the upcoming summer.
Each decides on a healthy eating plan that they hope will achieve the results they’re looking for. Jill decides on eating a lot more vegetables and salads, while Jack says he’ll cut down on red meat and limit the amount of beer he’s been drinking.
Both diets will work if they commit to them and are disciplined in their eating habits. There’s one big difference, however: Jill is 100% committed to her diet, whereas Jack is only 98% committed. Jill has invested her whole self into the outcome, Jack not quite all.
Days 1-5 of their new diet go reasonably to plan. Jill is eating more salads and vegetables, and Jack has substituted chicken for red meat and has even cut down on his beer drinking in the evenings.
However, the weekend approaches and they have been invited out for a Saturday evening barbeque by one of Jack’s friends. The smell of barbequing T-bone steaks and burger patties greets them as they arrive at the house and begin to mingle with the other guests.
Jack’s friend greets him with a slap on his back and thrusts a cold can of beer in his hands, saying, “What’ll it be, Jack, T-bone or burger?”
Jack wavers a moment before replying, thinking to himself that it probably doesn’t matter this one time if he doesn’t follow his diet.
“I’ll have a T-bone, thanks,” Jack says while taking a sip from the beer can, then adds, “medium rare, please.”
Jill raises her eyebrows, and says, “What would your future self want you to do, Jack?”
Jack just shrugs and has another sip of beer. Jill shakes her head as she makes her way to the salad table, leaving Jack to face the consequences of his decisions.
What this story shows is something social psychologists have recognised since before the turn of the Century, that events and situations often have greater influence over our behaviour than our desires.
This is why many addicts return to their addiction after rehab if they go back to the environment in which they were using drugs or smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. They return to unhealthy habits in unhealthy environments.
The pull of our environment is often stronger than the pull of our willpower.
In our story of Jack and Jill, Jack is suffering from decision fatigue, which saps his willpower to stick to his diet. Because he has only committed himself 98% to eating less red meat and drinking less beer, he has opened the door to the odd occasion where he can break his own rules. Instead of slamming the door shut to those occasions, as Jill has, he is constantly questioning whether he should or shouldn’t allow himself to eat red meat or to have another beer.
Jack has not yet learned to make a decision and then forget about it.
Should Jack encounter another situation where he is put in the spotlight to weigh what he should or shouldn’t do, his willpower will most likely weaken further because the whole ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ decision-making process is mentally tiring and, if it goes on for long enough, mentally exhausting.
When this happens, it’s much easier to give in to the situation than to keep fighting your mental battles. Then, like Jack, you justify your capitulation by claiming it doesn’t really matter, or that you’ve done so well up until this moment you deserve a break.
This is why, as Professor Christensen said, it’s much easier to be 100% committed to your principles than to be 98% committed to them. You don’t suffer the mental exhaustion. You don’t suffer the decision-fatigue. You don’t allow the situation to overpower your willpower.
Because he is only partially committed to his new diet, Jack hasn’t prepared himself for future scenarios where his resolve will be tested. He hasn’t future paced himself, whereby he knows what outcome he wants or the behaviour required to persevere with his new eating plan.
Unlike Jill, who has worked through the outcome she wants in her mind for such occasions, Jack is only considering his present needs and makes decisions based on what his current self wants. Jill, though, often projects herself to the future she wants and considers how her future self would want to remember her current actions and behaviours and decisions.
She constantly asks herself the same question she posed earlier to Jack: “What would my future self want me to do?”
Jack doesn’t do these things and therefore lacks the confidence and willpower he needs to adhere to his diet.
So it’s no wonder he fails. He is kept from his goals not from external obstacles, but from internal obstacles created through his failure to commit 100% to his diet. Jill, on the other hand, has cleared her path to her goal through being 100% committed. She doesn’t have the mental obstacles blocking her way because she can predict what she is going to do in future situations and knows the decisions she is going to make.
Because of her total commitment, Jill is able to persevere where Jack eventually gives up.
Are You Jack Or Jill?
Being 100% committed to something is the ability to make a decision and then forgetting about it.
That means set and forget. Like cement.
Being only 98% committed, Jack’s decisions aren’t yet set. They’re like wet cement, with no real form or strength. He can’t build on them.
Jill’s decisions, on the other hand, are set. Being 100% committed, they are like hard cement, with defined shape and great strength, something upon which she can build and be confident will stand the test of time.
To help solidify your decision-making process, consider the 7 Life Segments and the goals you might have set for each of them:
The 7 Life Segments
- Family & Relationships: e.g. more time with your family, volunteering in your community, supporting your friends
- Career & Work: e.g. work/life balance, improving your skills, doing more than what’s asked
- Money & Finances: e.g. paying off your mortgage, starting a business, saving for retirement
- Health & Wellbeing: e.g. improving your fitness, working on your gratitude, having more peace of mind
- Learning & Education: e.g. learning a language or musical instrument, attending DIY courses, reading more books
- Fun & Adventure: e.g. reconnecting with nature, taking holidays, smiling more
- Spirituality & Ethics (or Morals & Religion): e.g. being more mindful, focussing on big picture thinking, being more honest
Now consider your commitment to these goals. Are you Jack or Jill? Are you 98% or 100% committed to them?
Because, as you now know, the level of your commitment will determine the level of your achievement.
This article is an excerpt from Dr. Scott Zarcinas’ upcoming book, The SCOPE of YOU!
Why Success in Anything You Do Depends on Your SCOPE (and Your Failure Too)