Goal commitment is the most essential factor, which determines whether you achieve your goals or not. If you are not fully committed to your goals, you will not only put in all the effort that is required to succeed but also procrastinate and give up on the goals in-between.
Explore how a goal commitment contract instills accountability and guides you to your goals.
Commitment is the foundation of great accomplishments.
How many of us make new year resolutions? Many. How many of us keep new year resolutions? Not many.
Remarkably few people could follow through and achieve their New Year resolutions. It’s the same with your goals. Why such a massive break down? Is something missing?
Why resolutions don’t last long?
Henry Lescault of Franklin Covey Co. in his article, Make your resolutions stick (1) explores the reasons why most people fail to keep their resolutions:
The reason most New Year’s Resolutions don’t last is because once people decide they want to make some changes in their life, they move directly to changing the “DO” part of the cycle, or their behaviors, which is a great way to start, however, the mistake they make is doing this without first changing their PARADIGMs or belief systems.
A PARADIGM is a mental map for interpreting all of the events that take place in our lives. Unless you have the right beliefs, you can’t set yourself in the right direction and progress towards your goals. And to have the correct belief, commitment is the key.
If you look at the goal-setting theory, it’s self-evident why you don’t achieve your goals. Goal setting presupposes the existence of goal commitment. In the absence of goal commitment, goal setting does not work.
When people set goals and jump to actions without commitment, the enthusiasm to work on the goals fades quickly, resulting in failures.
To summarize, people who commit and stay put, achieve their goals. Others simply fail. Due to this lack of commitment, you see a large percentage of people breaking resolutions.
Most people fail not because of a lack of desire, but because of a lack of commitment.
Goal Commitment, the critical factor
Most people enthusiastically set goals and feel highly motivated for few days in the beginning, falsely assuming that they are really committed to their goals. However, after a few weeks, when they face any obstacles or the progress is not as per expectations, they start to quickly lose all the motivation and start procrastinating their goals. They were never really committed in the first place, they were just riding a temporary wave of motivation.
Locke and Latham (4) in their study have indicated three moderators that show goal setting success:
The importance of the expected outcomes of goal attainment,
Self-efficacy: one’s belief that they can achieve the goals,
Commitment to others: promises or engagements to others can actively improve commitment.
The desire for the outcome and the commitment to doing whatever it takes to achieve a goal are two completely different things. The first one is common, the second one much less.
Goal Commitment is the degree to which a person is determined to achieve a desired (or required) goal, regardless of its origin, Self Set, or participative or assigned by others.
People perform better when they believe they can achieve their goals and stay committed.
To stay committed, one must believe in the importance of the goal. Commitment becomes especially important when dealing with difficult or complicated goals. One of the most effective ways to strengthen your commitment to your goals is by identifying your ‘WHY’.
Defining the WHY of your goal
You can define your ‘why’ by describing all the reasons why you desire to achieve your goal. It’s all the ways your life will improve if you’d achieve this goal — and all of the ways your life would be worse if you wouldn’t accomplish this goal.
Identifying your ‘why’ is essential as your ‘why’ is your anchor for when you encounter obstacles and challenges. It’s your go-to source of motivation for when times get rough and for when you ‘don’t feel like doing the work.’ Your ‘why’ is what keeps you going when you think about giving up. 
To achieve goals, you must personally invest yourself in your goal rather than simply being motivated to complete the actions. By investing yourself, you commit your whole self to achieve goals, come what may. This is the commitment to its fullest.
How to have an enduring commitment that you stick with your goals and achieve them? You can find answers by looking at how businesses/organizations manage and achieve their goals.
Business Goals : All about systems
Businesses have developed and instituted excellent systems to set and achieve goals.
Organizational goals are varied – Strategic, Financial, Personal, etc. They are not only well documented but also easily measurable. Hierarchical Goal break-down structure (primary goals, sub-goals) provides visible roadmap and accountability.
Employees responsible for the goals know their importance. Many organizations make these commitments as the Key Performance Indicators of their employees. In some organizations, they are also called value drivers. They form the key to measure performance and give appraisals.
Organizational Leadership is made accountable by incorporating goals into their responsibilities and deliverables. With clear accountability, business leaders tend to show extraordinary dedication and even go great lengths to make the companies meet their goals.
Businesses track goals periodically, analyze progress, and initiate corrective actions, if required, appropriately. It is this systematic and well-documented approach that leads to goal accomplishment.
The well documented Key Performance Indicators, Value Drivers, and Management Deliverables form simple commitment contracts between the employee and the organization. It’s a proven system all over the world.
Commitment is the glue that bonds you to your goals.
This brings us to the key question; Can you have a goal commitment agreement like businesses, to your own goals, so that you stay on track and put your best efforts to achieve them?
Yes, you can. Before you go further, let’s understand what is goal setting? and how goals are set?
What is Goal Setting?
Goal setting involves the development of an action plan designed in order to motivate and guide a person or group toward a goal. Goals are more deliberate than desires and momentary intentions.
Therefore, setting goals means that a person has committed thought, emotion, and behavior towards attaining the goal. In doing so, the goal setter has established a desired future state which differs from their current state thus creating a mismatch which in turn spurs future actions. 
How goals are set?
In your lifetime, you set many goals, big and small, Short-term and long-term, personal, and professional. Most of these goals rest in your mind. Very few, note them in writing.
When you set your goals, you feel committed to achieving them. The extent of your commitment depends on your emotions in a directly proportional manner.
Let’s see a simple example.
If you want to lose weight, you set the goal in our mind; I will lose weight by dieting, walking, or by joining the Gym. The goals are without any specifics, and mostly, you don’t make a written plan to achieve them.
Goal setting follows with a few days of action and then a let off. While the intent is clear, efforts fall short. Results? Obvious.
Why you fail in your goals?
For business goals, you make agreements, an elaborate record of goals, and the processes to be adopted. But, in the case of personal goals, there are no written agreements.
Why this anomaly? It is because, most of the time, when you operate in uncertainty, you tend to resist taking up accountability.
Though you feel personal goals are vital, you are not sure if you will do everything to ensure you reach your goal. This tendency keeps you away from firm commitments. Lack of commitment makes you fail.
In “Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Achieve Your Goals”, Heidi Reeder, Ph.D., unpacks over forty years of research by psychologists and economists to show that the key to reaching any goal is commitment. Reeder indicates that there are four variables that drive commitment. Here are the four variables:
- Treasures: the benefits we get from working toward a goal.
- Troubles: the difficulties we have to deal with as we strive to achieve our goal.
- Contributions: the time, money, and effort we invest in the goal.
- Choices: the number of good alternatives we have.
By manipulating these four variables you can dial your commitment up or down. That is, you can increase your commitment to those things that will serve you well or decrease your commitment to those things that aren’t serving you well.
Goal commitment Contract
In the absence of written contracts, you recall goals based on your memory. If something is in your mind, you tend to forget, and you fail.
In 2015, a research study by Dominican University of California(3) on goals found those who wrote their goals accomplished them at a significantly higher rate than those who did not.
The best way to set goals is by writing them clearly, including who is accountable, what to accomplish, specific actions to be taken, and the timeframe. It should also include the parameters to be tracked and the periodicity. We can call the document as a Goal commitment contract.
A goal commitment contract is an obligation between you and a person who can be your father, mother, spouse, etc. who takes stock of your actions and accountability. It can improve our commitment significantly.
Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in, has left you.
I am presenting a simple Goal commitment contract template for you Set Clear goals with well-defined objectives, plan of actions, and accountability. You can use this template, irrespective of your goal.
This Contract will remind you of your commitment to your goals. It will break down your goals into sub-goals, which you can track and measure the progress. The goal commitment contract can include the rewards you can take after you accomplish your goals.
You can download the agreement by clicking the link here:
Review the Contract. Use it for your goals. Stay Committed.
To reach levels of success you’ve never reached before, you must be committed at a level you’ve never been committed at before.
If you have any goals but are not working on them yet, take a piece of paper, list your goals. From the list of goals that you have written, pick the most important ones. Make a commitment to your goals.
Ask yourself, ‘why do I desire this goal?’, ‘what are the deeper-level results that achieving this goal produces?’ and ‘what are all the ways my life will transform if I achieve this goal?’
Use this goal commitment contract and make yourself accountable. Work with a time frame. Take all the required actions. Monitor your progress, and you will achieve your goals, without fail, this time.
If you want to know the process of how to set goals, read my article: Goal Setting Process
I signed a goal commitment contract for two of my goals. I will share my experience, in due course.
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- Make your resolutions stick, Henry Lescault, Franklin Covey Co.
- Locke, Edwin A and Latham, Gary P “Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey.”
- The study focuses on strategies for achieving goals, resolutions: Dominican University of California, www.dominican.edu
- Locke Edwin A, Latham Gary P, and Miriam Erez, The Determinants of Goal Commitment, Academy of Management Review
- Why You Need A Strong Commitment To Your Goals If You Want To Succeed, Jari Roomer
- Goal Setting, Wikipedia