How to Make a Commitment to Lasting Change

When you want to take your life in a different direction, these three tips will guide you.

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Posted in , Jun 10, 2020

Lasting change

“I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go,” said the poet Langston Hughes. 

At a time when many are making space to reflect on some of the most profound questions about how we should live our lives, Hughes’ words challenge us to ask ourselves:

Where do you “really want to go" and how committed are you to getting there?

Here are three ways to think this through, for any number of commitments you are invested in making and keeping.

1) Expect Setbacks

The writer Margaret Wheatley has famously said that to make change, we need to be “willing to be disturbed.” That is, to be willing to have our deepest beliefs challenged and to prioritize our commitment to growth—even when we make a mistake. Setbacks are great teachers, if we expect them, accept them, and do not allow them to be off-ramps from changes we’ve committed to making.

2) Think Long-Term

True commitment to lasting change is nothing that can be checked off a single day’s to-do list. If you are committing to being more generous with your time or money, for example, consider making a decision to contribute on a recurring basis rather than in a single donation or volunteer shift. If you are committed to expanding your reading list, read one book at a time. Each time you step back in, you will reinforce and renew your commitment to stay with the conversation—internal and external—that your values are calling you to explore.

3) Pause and Reflect

Commitment toward lasting change is not a straight line with a set beginning and end. Any significant change worth making is multi-faceted and unfolds in what the Book of Galatians calls “the fullness of time.” Create space to pause at set intervals along your journey so you can reflect on whether your commitment needs bolstering, your approach needs to shift or your learnings are leading you in a different direction.

How do you sustain your commitments?

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