To commit or not to commit? That is the question asked by many teams in an agile world as well as individuals that set strict goals for their development. The answer must not be taken lightly as the faith and trust in oneself or of fellow team members depend on it.
Is there a way that we can ease the burden of this question or increase the likelihood to succeed?
Yes, I say. And in this article, I would like to share some insights into the elements that I consider essential to reach your commitments: Clarity, Focus and Perseverance.
Commitment goes hand in hand with goals. If you don’t have a goal there is nothing to commit to. Pretty obvious, right?
Even if it sounds trivial, setting good goals is not easy. Start by establishing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals, then make sure that every member of the team is on the same page. Explain why the goal is important and visualize what it will mean when the task is completed. Ensuring everyone has a shared understanding and view of the goals is critical.
If it is a team goal, have it written down and visible in an accessible location of your team space: on a big whiteboard, or a big screen so that everyone can see it. Don’t rely on a Jira board that shows tasks or current progress. Mention it daily so that it is engraved in everyone’s mind until it is completed.
If it is a personal goal, have it written down on your desk, on your entrance door, on your bathroom mirror, on your refrigerator. This plants the seeds of success in your mind and focuses your attention on things that will help you achieve your goal.
If there are uncertainties, or unclear elements or even unknown requirements, make sure that they are exposed and dealt with first. Reduce the risk by preparing in advance or consulting specialists that can provide insight or suggestions on how to deal with the unknown.
Clarity of purpose is the stepping stone of any commitment, so make sure you do it right.
Focus is the next vital element in achieving your commitment. You have your goal, now it is about breaking it into small steps so that each day you get closer to reaching it. Each step becomes a target. Each target requires an explicit focus to reach it.
You have a limited amount of time and energy, and chances are, you’ll never have enough of both to accomplish everything you need to do every single day. Not everything on your list is urgent. Take a moment to identify the most important task. This is the crucial task you must get done, tackle it first. By completing the vital task, you’ll ensure that you’ll have a productive day no matter what.
Do one thing at a time. It is very easy to give in to temptation and start multiple things simultaneously. This might work when doing physical tasks or chores but went you require brainpower, each of us has only a limited bandwidth. When stretched too thin, it will result in a decrease in quality or speed.
Always have a goal or target in front of you. Open your calendar, check for major events, manage your availability, and start setting goals for the month, the week, the day. Keep things simple. Don’t overthink what tool to use, or what structure to have. Pen and paper are good enough, but if you want a digital application, my recommendations are Todoist and Trello.
Start your day by reviewing your goals and targets so they are engraved in your mind, then it will be easy to deflect distractions and achieve your commitment.
Clarity and focus will point the direction, but perseverance is the fuel that you need to reach the finish line. Take action, because you will not be able to achieve anything without it. Action is what makes your goals and dreams come true.
Pace yourself as you require endurance, consistency, and perseverance to make a considerable impact on yourself or your team. Starting strong, but collapsing before the finish line will not help you or anyone in any way. The way how you finish a project is even more important than how you start it.
Have your mind and body in check as you require both mental and physical energy. Endurance is key – Life is long, small drawbacks and problems are not the end of the world. Success comes when you plan for the long term and do everything in your power to achieve it.
Stay optimistic. Having positive beliefs, hopes, and expectations rule your motivation to persevere. Instead of letting your mind run wild with all the ways how you could fail, excite it with anticipated victories.
I would like to end the article with a quote from a famous Jedi Master:
“Do or do not. There is no try”
When you are nervous that your plan won’t work, you might find yourself saying, “OK, I’ll try to do it.” By doing that, you are laying the foundation for being unsuccessful from the beginning, giving yourself a way out. Yoda’s statement is a passionate reminder that life rewards those who let their actions rise above their excuses. Clarify intentions, eliminate all doubts, be bold, and say: Yes, I commit!