You have decided to change things. You have decided to take the steps needed to charge forward. You are going to make your life noticeably better, in some significant way. Yet the sad likelihood is that you will fail. According to Steve Pavlina failure is often because you didn’t take the time to develop the necessary habits.
If Pavlina is right and I believe he is, then how do we build the habits that support our goals?
I believe it starts with Unreasonable Committment.
What is Unreasonable Committment? Unreasonable Committment is the strength to hold to a committment with teeth and toenails. It is a particular strength of committment that won’t be denied.
Is there a simple high leverage habit that would change your world? That is the kind of habit to focus on.
If you are a parent it may be as simple as making sure the kitchen is clean each evening. When you and your children are sprinting for school and work, mornings are best are hectic; at worst they deteriorate into screaming matches of “hurry up you’ll be late for school” or “you’re going to make me late for work.” Tears and hard feelings are the best you can expect from these situations, and you are often late to boot.
But, if you make an Unreasonable Committment to cleaning the kitchen before you go to sleep, each morning would start out from a do-able baseline. You would be more cool headed, and if your kids are like mine when you remove the time pressure not only are they happier BUT they move faster.
An Unreasonable Committment to a simple action can change the whole morning, and your child’s long-term memory of you.
What does Unreasonable Committment mean here? It means that you do it. You clean that silly kitchen whether you get in there at 7 or at midnight. It is simple, but it is hard.
Perhaps you have a morning workout scheduled, but your boss calls with an emergency that doesn’t go well and your workout has to be ditched. This time you took my advice and you wrote out the “backup rules” before you started your workout program. You decided that if you had to skip your morning workout that you would get it in before bed. Now, the evening is here and you get seduced by TV, or the Drudgereport, or checking email, and poof the time evaporates. It is now past midnight and your workout is still NOT done.
The Reasonable Man will talk to himself and say…its ok. At least I got the email done, or I am up to speed on the news, or gosh I am tired and tomorrow will be a big day. This Reasonable Man will talk himself out of taking the action that he needs to take. He will tuck his tail between his legs and “bail.” It is not reasonable to hit the weights, or to go out for a 3 mile run at 1 a.m.
The Unreasonable Man (or woman) will say “ah shit!” Then he will crank his lazy ass up and get it done. This is Unreasonable Committment.
At this level it is not the workout that is important. It is the promise to self. It is the character that we build by making and keeping our promises to ourselves.
The key here is Unreasonable Commitment. When you look at those dishes or the running shoes or that weight set and the hour is late; the decision is not about clean dishes or getting your workout in. The decision is about self respect. The decision is about your Character with a capital “C.”
Now, I am not looking down at anyone here. I have made the wrong choice plenty of times, just ask my poor wife. She has seen me crawl into bed, tired and grumpy from having made the wrong choice. In that moment she has seen me make the wrong choice again, the choice to stay and sleep. But, she has also seen me drag my sorry ass out of bed and out the door. She knows that if I do, even with the loss of sleep, I will be much easier to live with the next day. I will also be much more productive.
My advice is simple, ” get Unreasonable.” Who cares if it is 1:00 a.m.? Go make it happen. Looking in the mirror will be easier. Things will get done. Good habits will get made. Change, positive change, will happen.
Decide to be Unreasonable with your next self project. To decide means to cut off other options. Decide. Change one habit forward. Change one that will matter. Create habits that will build and move you forward into the person you want to be. When that decision becomes a habit, you will have changed your Character. Choose another habit. Don’t reach for too many new habits at a time. Remember the power of One. One habit. One step at a time.
(see my articles the Power of One and Time: Little Bits Add Up)