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The Role of Commitment and Motivation in Goal Achievement

What do you consider as the driving force behind reaching your goals? What is the one thing that will get you to where you want to be?

Many people will answer that it is motivation that pushes them toward their goals, yet what happens when motivation wanes? How can you stay committed when you just don’t feel like putting in the hard work?

First, let’s look at the difference between motivation and commitment.

Motivation is the inspired initiative to start a task. It is fueled by desire for engaging in a behavior to achieve goal. Commitment goes beyond desire. It is dedication to following through with behaviors and actions that will lead to the accomplishment of that goal. Thus, motivation is an intrinsic drive. On the other hand, commitment is both an internal desire plus a cognitive decision that is combined with specific, tangible action.

We can be motivated to do something without being committed to it. For example, we might feel inspired and motivated to start working out and getting fit after seeing a show about people who lost weight and got in the best shape of their lives. However, does that mean we will hit the gym tomorrow and start working toward that goal? Not necessarily.

Commitment comes in when we become determined to achieve our goal. It is a cognitive behavioral decision to take steps toward our goal. Motivation is different and does not mean we are committed. Many of us have a desire to change, yet we are not committed to making it happen. We get side-tracked by an obstacle; something unexpected distracts us; or we are not seeing the results as fast as we would like and give up. Motivation is important. We need it to get started, but it will get us only so far. When it wavers or even reaches its end, something else needs to be there to keep us going. Commitment is that part of the equation. Commitment is what keeps us going when motivation wears thin.

Commitment means doing things we may not want to do but know will yield the results we want in the end. Commitment means making our plan and sticking to it. It means not abandoning our goal when something comes up or we feel tired or discouraged. Commitment means that this goal is no longer an option but an absolute necessity in our life.

Commitment creates the difference between pushing through a lull in motivation and abandoning the goal. The biggest difference, then, between motivation and commitment is ACTION.

Motivation and commitment are both required for success. Commitment is fueled by motivation--the fuel that drives your action. It is the hard work we need to put in. It may mean waking up early, sacrificing free time, getting uncomfortable, taking risks, facing failure, and facing the unknown. This path is not possible without motivation. Once we move beyond motivation and literally act, it is commitment.

What goals are you committed to today? Where do you see motivation without commitment in any of them? What steps can you take to turn your motivation into committed action?

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