How to Make Wise Commitments

Are you disappointed when people do not keep their commitments? Do you keep your commitments to others? Do you keep your commitments to yourself? What is happening when we are excited about committing to something and then fail to follow through?

It has been my experience that we make commitments too quickly and do not think about the basic elements in making them. Some commitments are “no brainers” and others require further thought into what the ramifications are in obligating ourselves. However, even too many “no brainers” can use up the time available to assume other more meaningful commitments. Typically we make commitments because we believe there will be some sort of reward for doing so, such as; returned favors, recognition, financial return, spiritual fulfillment, etc. So, it makes sense to notice how many commitments we make and how they give us energy or drain us.

Let’s consider what the elements of commitments are as a method to make better choices and realize more fulfilling results with an example like, I want to lose ten pounds in six months.

1. The Obligation. What is the commitment itself and what is required to keep it? The commitment is to lose ten pounds. What is required to keep it means I will have to use diet and exercise in some combination, at some level of consistent frequency, over some measure of time.

2. The Know How. What is the expertise needed to complete it? I know I will have to cut out as much fat and sugar as I can. I know I will have to exercise using aerobic and strength building exercises. But, I will have to do some research on what kinds of nutrition cuts I can make that are in alignment with what I like to eat. I refuse to eat food so void of flavor that I hate eating and dread tracking my performance. I will also have to do some research on what the correct amount and type of exercise is for me. Why commit to a jogging routine when I have no place to do so?

3. The Desire. How much do I really want this? Is my health in jeopardy with keeping these ten pounds. Am I doing it because I have friends who are and I do not want to be left out? Do my clothes look good on me or do they look tight? Am I committed to a number on the scale or can I be happy being a size 16 and still look and feel great? These questions help uncover the real motivation behind the initial desire to lose ten pounds. The deeper the desire, the more likely we can do what it takes to keep the commitment.

4. The Timing. Do I have the time? In losing the ten pounds, I will have to shop differently, perhaps, at a store that is not as close to my home as I would like. I will have to make time in my schedule to exercise. This means that I may have to give up something else in order to make consistent exercise time. It may mean that my family has to help me by taking on more responsibilities to free up my time.

Is the timing right for me? Is the ten pounds in six months realistic? What other things are going on in my life right now that would conflict with my plans to lose the ten pounds? I may be taking care of elderly parents, working long hours, volunteering, or very involved with my children’s activities.

5. The Result. What are the advantages & disadvantages of assuming this? On the advantage side: 1) I would lose the weight and feel better about myself; 2) my health would be better; and 3) I would have more energy. On the disadvantage side: 1) I would have to take time away from my family to exercise; 2) I would have to work fewer hours that might complicate things at work; and 3) if I don’t do it, I will feel miserable about myself. The importance of each of the advantages and disadvantages, including their validity, is up to the individual. But, the idea is sound where assessing these things may lead from a full diet and exercise program to a modified version of it like; cutting meal portions down by half, using the stairs at work rather than the elevator, parking further away from store doors to get in more walking, substituting water for coffee, limiting fast food, and giving myself permission to lose the weight over ten months instead of six.

By taking the extra time in applying the Elements of Commitments, we can be more successful in the types of things we commit ourselves to. The Elements are useful in large commitments as well as small commitments. Small commitments drain our time if we assume too many of them. Assessing them brings awareness of where commitments can be delegated. Time is one of our most important resources. What we spend, we can never get back. Use your time on activities that fulfill you the most.

Helen Ewing is a Business & Personal Coach with over 20 years Manufacturing Industry experience in the Materials Management arena. I provide successful methods that solve problems in less time, with less money and with less effort through Coaching for Businesses and Professionals. I invite you for a visit at, Article Source:

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2 comments for “How to Make Wise Commitments

  1. 2009/06/21 at 11:33

    Well done Patricia. I am so glad that my posting Helen’s article made a difference. Cheers, Thea 🙂

  2. Patricia Schiavone - thrivingtogether
    2009/06/20 at 22:57

    Dear Helen,

    I found this article extremely useful & timely! A friend I love a lot had asked me to teach her English and my days are really busy right now. Although I knew committing to this was not the best for my already hectic life, I was about to say ‘yes.’

    Thanks to ‘coincidences’ that are always ready to help me, I read this post and I called my friend to decline. I’m extremely relieved.

    Thanks a lot!

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