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Build Resolve: 5 Way To Make Your Commitments To Yourself Stick

What’s going to be your next year’s new year resolution?

Too early to ask?

Just asking for a friend.

A lot of times, I find myself in mid-january asking: ”Wait, what are my plans for the year?”

Every year, I tell myself, “I should have thought about this last year” before the series of holidays at the end of the preceding year took me away.

A lot of us feel refreshed in January. One new year’s resolution after the other. 

Only a few follow through.

How do you build resolve and commit to things you want to do?

This commitment is the only way to grow.

Commitment Issues

A lot of us find it hard to make commitments.

Not only in relationship with others but to ourselves. We tend to start and stop things.

Let’s do a short reflection exercise here:

How many things did you say you would do this year that have now fallen to the wayside?

I can tell you on my end there are a few.

A few landing pages that need to be updated and written.
A few case studies that need to be uploaded.
A few mentors to reach out to.

As life happens, we find ourselves self-negotiating.

“I’ll just do that tomorrow” (There is always another tomorrow).
“Who has time for that anyway? Right?” (Crickets…as you find yourself talking to yourself).

Then we jump into echo chambers to echo our lack of commitment. You know ‘lack’ loves company.

The quickest way to get what you want in life is to shorten the time between your ideas and taking action.

The feedback from the process reinforces the inputs. You iterate to get closer to your goals.

Although most of us are focused on the outcome.

The biggest thing we get are the intangibles: how it felt, what we learned, what we enjoyed, whether would we do it again?

The only way to get there is through practice, which requires commitment.

Become an expert at getting things done and not just a planner.

5 Ways to Commit and Ship Your Ideas

There’s no magic pill besides showing up. Like a nike commercial, just do it. 

I’m only here to share a few tips on how to overcome daily resistance to commit and hit your self-directed goals.

With this, you will stop self-negotiating and get comfortable doing the little steps that will get you to your goals.

You will limit your distraction with systems that advertise your next steps to you.

You will embrace your level of expertise, have realistic expectations, and be proud of yourself as you watch yourself grow and achieve what you set out to.

Here are 5 ways to get there.

1. Turn pro and develop your mamba mentality

I recently watched a Kobe Bryant interview on the Jay Shetty podcast. The legendary athlete said one of the traits that set the greats apart is not self-negotiating. 

They don’t set a goal to run everyday and then the day of, start a negotiation with themself: 

“maybe tomorrow” 
“I’ve already done enough this week right?” 
“It’s just one day”

That self-negotiation is a slippery road to the relegation league built by resistance. 

Resistance has sent its agents your way. It doesn’t want you to live the fulfilling life you were born to live. 

It doesn’t want you to turn pro. 

Let’s describe the traits of the professional as a quick reminder. 

The pro: 

  • Is Patient: Resistance knows the amateur will rush in with enthusiasm, underestimating what it takes to get to the full scope of work. Resistance loves enthusiasm and uses it against the amateur. The professional is patient. The professional knows how to get through the project plateau.
  • Seeks order: The pro seeks order. They know it can get messy in their mind. So they find their own way to seek order externally. They set up a system to do the same thing over and over again.
  • Acts in the face of fear: The amateur thinks they have to overcome fear first and then get to work. The pro knows that fear will always be there. So they show up regardless.
  • Demystifies: The amateur loves to talk about creativity and happiness in a mysterious way. The truth is they don’t know what they are talking about. The pro takes away all the mystery. They clear out the fog. They are focused on making progress.
  • Easy-going in the face of failure or success: They are detached from the outcome in an objective way. They listen to critics to grow and check for spots for improvement. But they also know that the critic is just the ally of the enemy within. The critic will be gone tomorrow but the blank page will still remain.
  • Self-validates: The pro knows what they want to get out of it so they find their own ways to validate what they work on. They process their progress: with their work.
  • Respects other pros: Real recognize real and that’s that. Founders respect founders. Artists respect artists. Engineers respect engineers. Marines respect Marines. NBA players respect NBA players. Professionals respect professionals. Get to your work.
  • Detaches from their instrument: The pro distance themselves from their instrument: their voice, their hands, their tool of trade. They know that all they can give and get is the labor of work and labor of love. They do know that the fruit of labor is not guaranteed. So they focus on the work itself.
  • Endures adversity: In the face of adversity, they keep showing up. They know it is the will to be there that keeps them in the field.
  • Knows how to ask for help: They are not too proud to ask for help where they know they lack. They know their limitations.
  • Makes no excuses: They don’t self-negotiate. They know that resistance will be there tomorrow and making excuses today will make it twice as likely for them to make excuses tomorrow. 

Go pro. Develop the right mindset to set you up for the type of success you are looking for.

2. Start with definitions

Definition is exactly what you need to succeed. 

When the post keeps shifting, you just exert yourself more.

Whenever I’m about to start a project with a client for my advisory business, I spend 80% of the time clarifying the scope of the project.

Asking the same redundant question, over and over again “what does success look like for you?”

I learned earlier that without a clear end goal, the scope of the work would keep increasing through the project’s life cycle.

Start your project with clear definitions.

There is the law of diminishing returns when it comes to effort and output.

It’s the point that working more actually has a negative impact on the outcome. The tail end of this is overexertion.

One way for this to happen is not defining what the finish line looks like.

With vague end points, you will keep tinkering in search of perfection until you start working against yourself.

One way to overcome this is with properly defined goals instead of vague ones.

It’s also important to visualize what the end state looks and feels like. 

Try a one-minute clarity exercise and ask: “what does done look like?”

3. Motivate yourself with cravings

Your goals alone cannot motivate you. 

It’s how you develop your craving for the goal that is the biggest motivation.

When I wrote and published my first book, I thought I’d be elated. The opposite happened. I felt one of the worst depressions I had ever felt.

I thought it was the topic that I had been researching. I later learned that this happened to people that do creative work. It’s called “post-creatoon depression.”

The feeling of “and now what” is intense.
“Was all the work worth it?” comes right after.

Learning about the link between dopamine, results, and motivation helped explain what caused my crash.

Dopamine plays a major role in motivation. 

Not as a reward of attaining a goal as previously thought but more as a craving to achieve the goal.

Celebrating the result more than the pursuit of it, sets you up for failure. This is the dopamine reward prediction error.

When your expectation of the pleasure the result brings doesn’t match your expectation.

Craving the reward is more important than the actual reward and dopamine as a source of motivation is linked to this craving.

There’s a crash that comes after achieving a goal. This crash comes with pain which sets the dopamine lower than its base level.

Most people get down after this crash. The people that succeed are those that are aware of this and don’t let the crash fester before they start building the dopamine again.

They know that dopamine is a motivating ingredient and not the result of getting a reward. 

They wait a few days and let the craving build up again.

Self-regulation is the biggest way to manage dopamine dynamism.

Understand that motivation comes from the craving you build up for the result and not the result itself. 

Self-regulate your need for dopamine kicks. It never lasts. The build up is where it’s at.

4. Make your space conducive

You can optimize your space to get into a tunnel of work – 90 minutes at a time

Some days I find it so hard to focus. How about you?

Things come up that throw you off your game.

Even when you follow all the tips and guides it’s hard to do focused work.

You end up doing a lot but at the end of the day, you wonder what you’ve really done.

Finding ways to optimize your workflow is another toolkit to get your work to the finish line.

There are things you can do to enter different state of alertness as you work:

  • Breathe in and exhale for 25 times to get you alert but calm.
  • Look up to make you more alert. Position what you are working on at eye level or above.
  • Understand the ultradian cycle: the recurrent 90 – 120 minute cycle repeated throughout a 24-hour day. 
  • You can get focused work done in 90 minute blocks, so set a timer knowing that your levels of focus will vary through the block.
  • White noise turned to a low volume puts your workflow in a state of attention and focus.

“Your state of alertness is related to your eyes direction”

~ Andrew Hubberman

All this mixed together helps to put you into a tunnel of work.

5. Find your pace

Move slow in life to move faster to your goals

When we get motivated, we end up doing the most.

On down days, we are unmotivated and feel guilty.

When we get back up, now we want to compensate for missed time.

Up. Down.
Up. Down. 

This jerky approach to work is inefficient.

The best way is to move smooth at a steady pace

Do this by setting your objectives and setting a range.

For instance, if you want to finish reading a book. Do no less than 5 pages and no more than 40 pages a day.

Moving consistently might seem counterintuitive when you still have some energy in the reserve.

You caught your second wind huhn? Quite while you’re ahead.

Go and rest.

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast”

~ Greg McKeown, Author of Effortless

The world is filled with uncertainty and the best chance to move through it is to set your own steady pace.

Final Thoughts

Become an expert and not a planner. 

Deepen your expertise with your system. 

When you commit to the process, you become a shipper. You focus on finishing projects. You can do this by understanding what it takes to go from idea to reality. 

Turn pro and develop your mamba mentality.

Develop a conducive environment to support your workflow. Understand that motivation is really about the craving of the goal and the process than it is about the goal itself.

Most importantly, rest and find your pace.

Who is Nifemi?

Hey I’m Nifemi of NapoRepublic

I help busy people fit in a creative practice to bring to bring order to their reality and help them live a more meaningful life through writing and reflection.

Sculpt your story

Know thyself, build a second brain, and unleash your creativity with writing. All in one journaling, note-taking, and dots-connection method that fits into your busy life.