If you are like most people you have a dream life that you want to live. You might have a crystal clear “image” of that dream life of yours, a “gut feeling” that life could and should be different. You may even be holding onto some kind of internal hope of a better and more fulfilling existence.
No matter what your ideal life consist of, what it takes to live it, or how big or small your goals are, there are two essential factors that can make or break your dreams.
Commitment and fear.
Make Your Dreams Come True
There are many talented people in this world who have never managed to set and accomplish their life goals. Too many to count. How come this is the case? Why do so many of us not do what it takes to get ahead in life and reach self-actualization?
We don’t commit.
In order to create the reality we want to live in we need to be mentally ready to achieve our goals through committed actions every single day. We need to push past procrastination and dare to devote our energy, time, creativity, bravery and effort to our higher cause ( ie. our dream life) (1).
Committing to our higher cause is the best possible thing we can do during our lifetime. We need to motivate ourselves to at least try, to at least “take a shot at it”. It is absolutely undeniable that most of us have a gift, a unique purpose and mission in life. Our job is to find out what that gift/purpose/mission is and to commit to continuously act on it (2).
There is nothing we cannot do, it is just a matter of time and commitment.
What is Commitment?
In order to create commitment in our life it would be beneficial to, firstly, understand what it means and entails. According to Mel Schwartz L.C.S.W. author at Psychology Today, commitment is a concept that includes both a process and an outcome (3).
What do we mean by this?
– Let’s say you commit to opening up your own business in order to achieve financial and locational independence, therefore improving the quality of your life. In doing so, you are:
– Promising, pledging, and making a stand that you are going to create your own business. This new possibility that is created through the act of commitment, using only your language, is the outcome of your commitment.
– Consistent action, planning, decisions, and devotion are elements of the process of your commitment. They are necessary to enable you to move forward towards the desired outcomes of your commitment.
If you make a promise to open your own business but show no devotion through your actions, your commitment becomes lip service. That is why it is crucial to pay attention to both the outcome and the process of your commitment.
In order to go deeper into understanding commitment, let us look at the word itself.
Commit+ment: two words formed into one. The first word being “commit” and the second a variation of “meant”.
To commit means to give trust; to pledge oneself to a position, issue or question; to express; or to commit to a promise or a course of action (4).
Meant represents the mind. It denotes an action, a resulting state, a means, or a product.
From these two combined parts comes a holistic definition of commitment: commitment is to dedicate the mind to a specific obligation that will interest you and to remain true to what was originally pledged and promised in order to see progressive result.
Sounds like something we should all do to be happy and fulfilled, doesn't it? So what could be the reason for failing to commit?
Commitment and Fear
When we decide to live our dream life commitment is the force that keeps us moving and fear is our wall. The wall can be pretty thick, too. There are many types of fear that can sabotage our progress. Let us mention just a few:
Fear of the unknown
Fear of risk
Fear of failure
Fear of ridicule
Fear of change
When we look at the previously mentioned example of you opening your own business, you can bet that unknowns, risk, possibility of failure, ridicule, and change will be a part of your daily life.
It is a guarantee that fear will be as well. It comes as a loyal companion to the above mentioned circumstances.
According to Mel Robbins (an American on-air CNN commentator, television host, life coach, author, motivational speaker, and contributing editor for Success), the way that our minds are designed is to stop us, at all cost, from doing anything that might hurt us. The fact about human beings is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable, scary or difficult. Inspired by neuroscience and the studies of biology on fear, Mel claims that our brains are designed to protect us from those things because our brains are designed to keep us alive (5).
This presents a problem for all of us who want to live up to our highest potential.
“I'm continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you're uncomfortable, it means you're growing.” -Ashton Kutcher
From Afraid to Achieved
With the true understanding that commitment isn’t something that easily and naturally comes to us, we as human beings need to rewire our mindset in order to go beyond or limitations.
How is that possible?
Firstly, we need to make a decision to stop trading our dreams for a sense of false security. Secondly, we need to learn to keep changing our perception so that fear doesn’t get the best of us. We can achieve this by making three essential choices.
Choices to make in order to overcome fear and keep your commitments are the following:
1. Choose to Disidentify with Fear
You are not your fear. Even when it overwhelms you, fear doesn't need to get the best of you. You can decide to master it and continue doing whatever it is that you wanted to but were previously afraid of (6). There is a famous book written by Susan Jeffers on this topic by the title Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, and it is exactly what we all need to do in order to succeed in life.
2. Choose to Continue Moving Forward
Being afraid will make you stuck. When you catch yourself finding excuses for not doing things that are important for your life goals, stop to identify what risks are you avoiding. Every new opportunity that comes into your life comes with a certain risk attached to it (7). Instead of avoiding the situation, make an estimate of your potential losses and gains. If the gain is bigger than the loss, continue moving forward. It can be as simple as that.
3. Choose to Ask Yourself Empowering Questions
Certain types of questions can make or break your commitment and potentially allow the fear to eat away the last bits of your motivation. For example: questions consisting of the “what if….” scenarios are sure to stop you and push you into the downwards spiral of self-doubt.
Questions like: “What can I do to…?”, “What would a brave person do to…?”, and “ How can I approach…to get the best possible outcome?” will offer you a better chance to surpass fear and focus on decisions and actions that are in your own reach and control.
What if committing isn’t enough? How do you commit in a way that you are sure to succeed?
The Right Kind of Commitment
During his TEDxKC talk “Rethinking Commitment”, John Jantsch explains that 50% of the seemingly successful entrepreneurs feel full of life and the second 50% feel like “their life has been sucked out of them”. According Mr. Jantsch the crucial determinant that separates the former category from the latter is what they commit to.
While the category of “ burned out”, unfulfilled entrepreneurs seem to be committing to their business for the sake of commitment (paying the bills, acquiring status, achieving results) the successful entrepreneurs are committing to a “so called” higher purpose.
Successful entrepreneurs seem to know why they do what they do. This allows them to measure the success not through comparison with the competition, but through turning around and looking back to see how far they have come in the pursuit of their higher purpose.
Commitment is the Foundation of Great Accomplishments
Without commitment we as humans wouldn’t have been able to grow and develop as a species the way we have so far. To achieve greatness in any area of our life we need to deeply and truly invest ourselves and commit to our goals and purpose. As we do this it shapes life for us and everyone around us.
What will you commit to today?