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Caught in a Rut? How to Move from Intention to Commitment

I seldom have the time to watch a lot of television. Some days, however, I channel surf with the best of them. When I find a poker game on the tube, I stop and watch. I do that because I know that at some point, one of the players is going to slide all of his/her chips across the table and go “all in.”

I love it! It’s one of the best visual demonstrations of commitment that I have ever seen; and those two simple words, “All in,” define commitment better than any philosopher, business consultant, or management guru ever does.

“All in.”

When people tell me they want to go to the mythical and currently popular next level, my first three questions have become:

"Really?” They nod or otherwise affirm their intention. 

“What would that require you to do differently?” They tell me a little bit about where they are and how they seem to be stuck and ask what I think they should do next. 

“Are you all in?” They ask me what I am talking about.  

What I am talking about is the difference between intention and commitment. There is an old saying that tells us about intentions and how they pave the road to oblivion. When they aren’t paving the way to Hell, they are keeping us stuck in a comfort zone rut.

Bruce Jenner, who won the Olympic Decathlon in 1976, believes that finding the solution to getting unstuck is that:

Your values are instrumental in defining victory or success, whichever you prefer to call the outcome of your efforts (this is really important and will have much to do with your ultimate satisfaction).

So, if you want to move from intention (I would like to succeed) to commitment (I am going to succeed), here are a few suggestions that will get you moving:

Set big goals. People seldom exceed their self-imposed limitations. I recommend having about 3 – 5 goals going at once. Of course, the goals should be in alignment with your values.

Plan. The bigger the goal, the simpler the plan needs to be. And, the plan needs to be SMART.

Prioritize. Focus on results rather than activities. Whether you do this the night before or the morning of, review your goals and identify at least one action that moves you closer to completion.

Take action. Move! Get off the dime! Make at least a small improvement every day. Be brave and expect that some actions will work better than others.

Celebrate success. If you do not enjoy what you have accomplished, you will be asking yourself what was the point?

Each of us wears a lot of different hats. Once you have found the one that creates some passion and excitement in your life, leave it on. Then you will know what it is to be “All in.”


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Des Moines, IA, USA
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