Don’t Commit to Goals

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“Don’t commit to goals”? What does that mean?

I just got off the phone with a student that’s having a hard time meeting their academic goals. And I gave him the solution, and I’m going to give it to you too. It’s really simple, don’t commit to goals. Now, before I get into an online vigorous debate or perhaps get some fierce objections from any successful life coaches out there, let me explain. Whenever I hear a student say something like, “Andre, I’m going to pass my exam in three months,” or, “I made a commitment to myself and I’m going to get honors on my exam,” or maybe it’s a fitness school like, “I’m going to lose or gain 10 pounds.” I caution them. Don’t commit to goals, commit to activities.

And ideally, you want those activities to be totally within your control. That way, you either do it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you got nobody to blame but yourself. You see, if you commit to a certain outcome, without even realizing it, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Your brain may already have subconscious justifications or excuses as I like to call them for you not meeting that goal. “I didn’t get honors because I got the tough version of the exam.” Or, “I didn’t pass because my boss overloaded me with a project.” Or, “I didn’t pass because…” Well, you fill in the blank.

So if you don’t commit to a goal, what should you do? Well, obviously you need to start by defining your goal. In other words, what do you want to accomplish? But this is so you can plan. Next, you got to ask yourself, “What activities do I need to do to put myself in the best position to meet that goal?” And then you focus on the activities themselves.

Now, here is the secret, you’re focusing and you’re committing to the activities, not the goal. Now, maybe it’s to study 30 minutes a day. Well, I don’t know too many people that can’t find 30 minutes in a day. So it’s something that you either do or you don’t do. And if you don’t do it, it’s a lot harder to look yourself in the mirror and justify it or justify it to any accountability partners that you may have recruited, which is something else that I recommend. So again, don’t commit to the goal. Figure out what activities you need to do. Commit to the right activities and the goals will take care of themselves.