At some point, your goals stop being merely dreams or constructs and transform into real, tangible goals. Do you know when that is?

Is it when you put defined thoughts around it?

Is it when you write those thoughts and goals down on paper?

Is it when you share the goal with someone else?

Could it be when you start taking action on it?

Or is it when you see tangible progress on the goal?

I could make a strong argument with a couple of these milestones being the formation of a real goal. I’ve even heard that a goal isn’t a goal until it is a SMART goal.   But instead of fitting inside one of these points in a goal’s timeline, I will offer you an answer that can happen at any time. It isn’t the same for everyone and can be different for you for different goals that you make. I have achieved goals that I never wrote down or told someone about. Some goals that I kept in my head never even got close to completed. Goals can be big or small and may need different levels of planning, tracking, and support. But there is one thing every goal needs to be a real goal.

A goal is true only when it has your commitment.

A goal becomes a real, true goal when you commit to it. Writing goals down on paper, telling others, and taking action are all vital parts to ensuring you achieve your goals. But those things won’t matter until you commit to the goal you are trying to achieve. Commitment is hard, no one can hold you to it except for yourself. External forces may encourage your actions and bring consequences for missing goals, but they do not create commitment inside of you to reach the goals you set. It does not matter what external rewards or consequences there are for goals or commitments. Your commitments must be made inside of you and be strong enough to last.

Sure, you have probably missed commitments and neglected them before. We all have. I have failed to achieve my goals and maintain relationships because I let my commitments fail. That’s why there are two parts of committing to a goal: accepting and maintaining.

Accepting a commitment can be easy or could take a long, dedicated time. For a career change or marriage, it should take you long and thoughtful, prayerful process to commit. Other commitments, like deciding to floss your teeth every night, should not take so much preparation. Maintaining our commitments is usually where we can get lost in the distractions, emotions, and feelings of life. Commitments made years ago can lose their shiny-ness. Ever wonder why silver needs to be polished regularly to keep it’s shine? ? Commitments are that way too, they take work to maintain over a long period of time. The longer and harder a commitment is then the more work it will take to maintain until the end. Here are my top 3 tips for commitments:

Committing to goals doesn’t have to be complicated, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Commitment takes heart, determination, and patience. It is important not to just jump out to a massive commitment you cannot handle or have no desire to hold to. You have to want to commit and know it is the best thing for you.

Here are my top 3 tips for commitments:

  1. Know your Values & Vision. A goal and a solid commitment will not last or be satisfactory if they are out of alignment with your values and vision. Your values are your standards for living or a set of personal rules you have decided to adhere to. Vision is vital to accomplishing goals. Your goals should lead you down a path to the life you have envisioned for yourself. You can read more on this topic here.
  2. Know what it costs. Do you know what it will take to keep your commitment? The costs of a commitment show up in many forms such as finances, relationships, time, health, etc. You have to know what the costs of a commitment are so that you can be ready to pay for them. One cost of committing to a marathon is the extensive time it takes to train for a 26.2-mile run. This means time away from family and friends, getting up early and missing sleep, and spending time making sure your body is healthy with stretching and eating correctly. Count the costs and know what it will take before you commit to a goal.
  3. Remind yourself. Reminders help for many things, but they are crucial to achieving goals. You have to remind yourself of the commitment itself, of the costs, and of your values and vision. For me, this means writing my goals down on a notecard and keeping it on my truck’s dashboard. You could use your phone or a posterboard, or tell a trusted friend to remind you and ask questions about your goal. Your commitments will get hard and reminders of the goal and your vision behind it will keep you motivated.


Use these tips to stay committed to your goals. It isn’t too late if you have lost commitment or need to spark some revival into a goal. Commitment isn’t about winning and losing, it is about staying true to yourself and what you believe to be important. I’d love to hear what your toughest commitment is/was or about a time when you held true to your commitment through an interesting situation. Leave a comment below.

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