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Goals versus Commitments – What’s the difference?

Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to. Goal, commitment. What’s the difference? It’s the time of year when people typically make progress toward something important–or start to fall off the bandwagon and back into the same-ol’, same-ol’. The difference between success and struggle might be in how we view goals and commitments. Let’s take a look.


What is a goal? A goal is something you would like to accomplish. It is the “broader vision” of what you want to work toward or the end result you want to achieve. For example, you might say, “My goal is to exercise more.” This doesn’t, however, map out exactly how you will achieve it.


So you create a plan to reach your goal. Perhaps you determine that you will exercise three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) for a half hour each time. That’s your commitment. You’ve made an exercise date with yourself that you intend to keep. You probably even feel an inherent sense of accountability and responsibility about this decision.


But even with a clear plan of action and the knowledge of accountability, you still may not reach your goal. Why not?


Because commitment is not simply a case of creating an obligation and holding yourself accountable. Commitment is also a state of mind that motivates you to follow through on something. And that state of mind holds power over the barriers and circumstances that might get in the way of you achieving your goal. In short, the power to take action (or not) is always in your hands.


In my opinion, when we are successful in reaching our goals, it is because our sense of commitment has a special emotional connection. Our sense of commitment needs not only to motivate and inspire us, but also to provide us with a sense of peace. That kind of commitment takes the pressure and guilt out of when and how we reach our goals.


Last year I wrote a post about knowing when “it” (a goal, specifically a weight-loss goal) matters and when “it” doesn’t. Here is some of what I wrote:


People come to FitMetabolism for a reason. They have a goal in mind and look to us for support in achieving that goal. [After a conversation with the other FM coaches, a particular idea really stood out to me.] What stood out was the idea (and evidence) that those who have been really successful at weight loss and weight management know when it matters and when it doesn’t.… Throughout our lives and our weight-loss journeys, we always need to have commitment and hope.… It’s also important to remember that one day in the big picture is only one day. Our priorities have to ebb and flow with the circumstances of our lives, [but achieving our goals always remains possible].


Your sense of commitment is what makes it possible to achieve your goals. Having the “right” kind of commitment is like making a special promise to yourself–a promise that has a drive and purpose–but most importantly, which also includes self-kindness, self-forgiveness, and healthy perspective.


Good plans need to have both goals and commitments. Successful plans include the right kind of commitment. Here at FM, we can help you fine-tune a plan and find a personal sense of commitment that can carry you forward to achieve your healthy lifestyle goals. Please give us a call!


Marco Iafrate