“We all have an idea of what commitment is, but I’m going to explain it in a way that will help you take it to the next level. Commitment is a choice at every moment, regardless of our past actions. This process is more proactive than just planning, mapping out, writing down, and looking at what you wrote. Setting intentions is using active brain energy to create an intention in your mind, right now, in these 3 different areas.”
In order to stop looking at porn and masturbating and create the future you want, commitment is required. This seems obvious. So why do we get stuck?
We all have an idea of what commitment is, but I’m going to explain it in a way that will help you take it to the next level.
If you haven’t reached your goal yet, then you may want to look at the way you are committing and what it is exactly you are committing to.
What is Commitment Really?
A commitment is something we decided in the past about something in our future. But it’s easy to forget that what matters is how we are thinking about our commitment right now.
Sometimes I want it to be one decision. One time. One and done. Boom!
Sounds easier doesn’t it? Spending time wishing for easier does not help me.
I would decide on my commitment once and then go haphazardly into the waves of life same as before, then I’d waffle. It’s like I would expect that moment of committing in the past to affect me right now and do the work for me.
I felt so strongly when I committed to no more porn. And I committed with such gusto at the time. So why doesn’t it carry more weight right now? Why do I want to look at porn again?
Another thing I’d do is let one act of going against my commitment mean that I must not be committed. As though my commitment level was determined for me and wasn’t even a choice because of the action I already took. But commitment is a choice at every moment, regardless of our past actions.
I had to ask myself: Am I in this for the long run or just until it gets hard?
Effective commitment is many decisions along the way that support and show trust in your initial decision.
How do you trust the commitment you made?
- You have the most compelling reason possible. If you have not done this, start here.
- Your reason is explained, understood, written down, reviewed.
- Recognize that your pre-meditated decisions are better for your long term best interest over your impulsive ones.
You support your commitment by the way you respond to right now. Here is a helpful way to think about it that I call the 3 Legs of Commitment. But first, an example.
A Running Example
I love to go on long runs, 6-12 miles, 3-4 times per week.
When I go on a run, I start by remembering my compelling reason.
For the actual running part, I first decide which route I’m going to take and what distance I’m going to cover (long-term).
Next, I need to get my legs moving right now and keep them moving each moment along the way (right now).
Sometimes, especially when I’m tired, I look forward at the long path ahead and get a little overwhelmed by the distance in front of me. When this happens, I’ll slow down and get a little discouraged.
Something really helpful for me is to shift my focus to the 5-10 ft. in front of me (near future). This helps me to not get overwhelmed and to take it a chunk at a time. A chunk that seems really doable in that moment. This helps me bring my pace and motivation back up.
So there are 3 Legs to this process: 1) I know my overall distance to cover the entire time, 2) I keep breathing and keep my legs moving in the moment, and 3) I focus on the path just in front of me.
The 3 Legs of Commitment
- Near future
- Right now.
I call them the 3 Legs because it’s like a 3 legged stool. Take away one leg and the stool will fall. But the 3 legs also support and strengthen each other.
It may not be new to you to break down a goal into long-term, near future, and right now. Maybe you’ve done this hundreds of times. But stay with me here for the next level.
To follow through you need motivation. And motivation isn’t just some ethereal essence that we are sometimes lucky enough to stumble across.
Motivation is a choice. It can be learned. It can be practiced.
Motivation = Ambition + Expectancy
So how do we create ambition and expectancy?
Ambition is the desire that you start out with when making a commitment. It is that fire inside. That drive to create.
Do you let yourself be ambitious? Do you allow yourself to want. Your true wants are a map to becoming your best self. Foster the skill of wanting from abundance.
Expectancy includes a Planning Phase and an Intention-setting Phase.
The planning phase, many of you are familiar with. You map it out and break it down. Even though we know this, that doesn’t mean we do it regularly.
Having a plan written out and mapped out will help you to set clear intentions in the Intention-Setting Phase. It is much easier to commit to something specific than it is to something vague.
So, a quick explanation of how to plan using long-term, near future, and right now.
- What is the result you want to create?
- Write it down.
- Make it measurable.
- Make it specific.
- Pick a time frame (1 month, 1 year, 5 yrs, life long)
- What are all the little steps that will make the long term goal possible?
2. Near future:
- What little steps are you focusing on in your near future?
- Which of these steps do you plan to take in the following few hours, days, 1 week, 2 weeks?
- Make it as small or as simple or as near in the future as necessary for it to seem doable to you as you look at it.
3. Right now
- What task aligns with your long-term and near future commitments right now, in this moment?
- Stick to the plan right now.
- Be fully engaged in your current task.
- Keep breathing and keep your legs moving.
There are many ways to do this. Find one that works for you.
At times I’ve felt that plans like this are so restrictive and allow me less freedom. But what I’ve realized is there is even more freedom to be found in executing a well-designed plan.
Once you have a plan written down and mapped out, you have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it. You have something specific to commit to.
Here’s the extra part. That special ingredient that will make your plan-flavored soup utterly delicious.
This phase requires you to set intentions. Setting an intention is using active brain energy to create an intention in your mind, right now, in the 3 different areas: long-term, near future, and right now.
Setting intentions can only be done in the right now.
It is spending willpower now so that less willpower is required later.
The more you practice setting intentions with your right now, the more your brain will be prone to follow those intentions, moment by moment, as you execute your plan.
Plan a time each day (or as regularly as is helpful for you) to set intentions in all 3 areas. It doesn’t have to take a long time. Make it simple. Make it doable.
Use an implementation intention (from James Clear): “I will (behavior) when (this situation arises, after/before this already-existing habit, I’m in this location, I see this object, a time of day, etc.) ” Fill in the blanks.
Visualize yourself doing it.
When setting an intention, ask what are you choosing to believe about each leg of commitment?
With a 3 legged stool. If one leg is weaker, it will just wobble but won’t fall.
Some days, one or two, or all three, of the legs will be weaker. But they work together to keep the stool up.
Sometimes you’ll need to lean on one leg more than the other. Use the one that helps you the most in that moment. Be willing to bounce back and forth and play with it a little.
This stool requires maintenance. Do what you must to strengthen each leg. Do it as often as is necessary.
Final Notes on Commitment
The only time your commitment can really affect you is right now, in the moment.
The only thoughts that affect how you are feeling are the thoughts you are thinking right now.
The only feelings that will drive your actions are the feelings you feel right now.
When you make a commitment, your brain may lag behind at first. You need to train it. Gently bring it along until it has fully bought in.
One way to do this: regularly, and with repetition, spend your “Right Now’s” practicing the 3 Legs of Commitment. Not just mapping it out and writing it down but also choosing to believe that you are committed in each of those areas, visualizing yourself doing it.
Be ready to do as many “Right Now’s” as it takes until you really believe that you will make each leg happen.
Not sure how to execute your goals? Check out my How to Stop Looking at Porn Program by scheduling a free mini-session with me. What are you waiting for? Click here.
For a free jumpstart on learning the skill of not looking at porn check out my guide: “How to Stop Looking at Porn.”