Have you ever heard of underlying commitments?
The concept’s come up for me a couple times lately, so last week I decided to explore it for myself.
In a nutshell, underlying commitments are the things we’re truly committed to, which we may not be aware of and may not be in alignment with our stated goals.
For example, have you ever started a diet, yet found yourself eating a box of cookies the next day? Or decided to put yourself on a budget, only to find yourself splurge on something that’s way more than you wanted to spend?
Underlying commitments explain all of that. (Without the need for any self-blame.)
Here’s how you can uncover your underlying commitments:
- Write down your goal.
- List all the things you’ve been doing that don’t support you achieving this goal.
- Ask yourself, what is it that I’m really getting out of these actions (or inactions) that don’t support me achieving my goal?
Here’s an example of mine:
- Writing a book
- There are a few things: Not having a plan. Not scheduling and prioritizing writing time. Not giving myself deadlines (and honestly, since I don’t really have a plan, I’m not sure what I’d even give myself deadlines for at this point).
- Probably a few things as well: Avoiding fear. Preventing myself from being vulnerable. Avoiding failure and rejection. Avoiding commitment. Keeping myself small.
At a higher level, if I look at all the payoff, it’s ultimately that I get to stay in my comfort zone. So my underlying commitment is to seek comfort. (Side note: This may also explain my eating habits lately.)
What have you been trying to achieve that hasn’t come to fruition yet? Try the exercise above for yourself. You may be surprised at what you uncover. There’s magic in writing it down.
And if you want to take it even further, I’d highly recommend Debbie Ford’s book The Right Questions as a resource.
Everything we do either takes us closer to our goals, or further away.
Uncovering our underlying commitments give us the opportunity to see how we’ve been sabotaging ourselves, and then decide: Do I want to keep doing this? Or am I ready to let it go?