Do Whatever It Takes

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Now that the first month of the New Year is out of the way, it is time to get to the real New Year’s resolutions you want to make. You know, the important ones. The ones you’ll keep.

It really doesn’t matter what your particular self-improving resolution is. It only matters that you make a decision to improve your life in some way and stick to it!

It’s important to understand the significance of properly setting goals and commitments for yourself and to know just exactly what the difference is between a goal and a commitment.

In today’s world, it is seemingly a never-ending occurrence that people make commitments to others (and even themselves) about anything you can imagine. Many people make commitments easily and without thought, simply because they know if they fail to reach their goal, they will just say, “Sorry, I did my best.” Like that exonerates them from the responsibility of following through.

“There was a lot of traffic. I couldn’t help but be a little late,” is an excuse offered when someone does not get somewhere on time.

“I just don’t have the money. I’ll have to pay you back later,” might be the excuse given by someone who promised to repay you today for a lunchtime loan made a few days ago.

“I don’t have any sharp razors,” is the oft-heard excuse from an employee who shows up to work unshaven.

I am sure each of you can think of dozens of typical excuses offered by people you encounter every day; excuses for why they didn’t honor the commitment they made about any particular thing.

Why does it seem so common for people to make commitments and so often fail to even come close to achieving them?

For one thing, it is the general lack of consequences in today’s typical society. There is so little accountability due to those who make commitments that there is no real consequence if they fail to meet them. Where is the motivation to succeed?

This brings us to the rest of the equation when speaking of goals and commitments, rewards and consequences.

Without a healthy and appropriate dose of each of those in the right amount and at the right time, goals and commitments are worthless.

 It only makes sense, right? But let’s get the most important fact about this month’s article straight right now: I am not referring to any of your employees, your children or your spouse. I am not referring to your neighbor, your brother or sister or your landlord. I am not making reference to any of your teachers or professors, and I am not bringing up any of your coworkers or other acquaintances you may know, either.

That’s right, you know exactly who I am talking about — you! It’s all about you and the goals and commitments you make.

Understand this one very important distinction: any goal or commitment you make is first and foremost a commitment to yourself before it is any kind of commitment to anyone else.

That’s right, you must make the commitment to yourself first before you’re capable of committing anything to anybody else. If you won’t or can’t do it for yourself, how can you reasonably expect to do it for anyone else?

OK, I said we would talk about the distinction between commitment and goals, so let’s get that out of the way.

A goal simply stated is something you want to achieve. A goal can be anything. Little goals are made every day by the thousands. “I’m going to be nicer to the next customer than I have been all day,” or “I’m going to keep my pen in my pocket all day so I will be ready to greet every customer instantly.”

There are big goals, too. “Today is going to be our best car count day ever.” “I want to be the manager of this location by this time next year,” may even be a goal made by some of you today.

Of course, there are the giant goals in life, “I am going to be a millionaire by the time I am 30,” is a very typical goal said by people every day.

A goal is an idea, wish or desire. It sure would be nice to achieve every one of our goals in life, but that does not happen. Not with the millions of tiny goals most make day after day, and not with the big goals made in a moment of wishful thinking.

 An idea without follow-through is worthless, nothing but wasted energy. Why waste your time and energy on worthless goals that have no chance of becoming reality?

The follow-up process to any goal that is really worth making is the commitment. A commitment is the “call to action” that makes a goal a viable, achievable desire. Without commitment, a goal is worthless. Without a viable plan, no wish or desire can ever be achieved.

The fundamental difference in setting your goals and commitments is your goal is what you want to do. Your commitment is your plan on how you are going to achieve that goal.

The simple fact you have set a goal — any goal — demonstrates you desire to have something different than what you have right now. If you want something different than what you have now, you have to do something different. If you keep doing the same things over and over, you are only going to keep getting the same results.

Working even harder and longer at doing the same things over and over will only result in you getting exactly what you already have, but through a lot more work!

Your commitment must be to do something different than the way you are doing it now. That just about guarantees you will achieve different results. Hopefully, the results will be what you want. In life, there are no guarantees. Never forget that.

But at least you have a chance to succeed. If you do not make a proper commitment to your goals, your only guarantee is a 100-percent chance of failure.

OK, let’s step it up a notch here. This next part is not for weaklings. If you don’t have the real desire to achieve something worthwhile in your life, then stop reading right here. It’s not for you.

If you can’t get properly motivated to want to have a higher level of success in your life than you do right now, then go back to watching old reruns of “Full House” on your days off.

By the way, everybody involved in making a successful TV show like “Full House” is a proven success at goal-setting and commitment-keeping.

A commitment is something you will achieve no matter what happens. That is a real commitment. If you have the intestinal fortitude to make a commitment that you absolutely are going to make sure you achieve without fail, you are on the right track. If you have a burning fire deep in your belly that you know will drive you to keep working, keep trying, keep learning and keep achieving, then you may have what it takes.

If you make commitments, knowing full well you are going to make sure they get done at all costs, no matter what it takes, with no excuses and no reason to ever give up then you may have a do whatever it takes attitude.

The truly successful people in life make goals and commitments daily. But they don’t make them lightly or frivolously. They think about what they want, they plan how to do it and they put their head down and they get to work.

Wherever you are right now, find a mirror and look right into it. Look deep, into your own eyes for about 30 seconds. While gazing into your own eyes, make a real commitment to yourself about a goal you want to achieve. And keep looking right at yourself as you make the commitment to yourself. And realize you are going to do whatever it takes to fulfill that commitment!

KIT SULLIVAN is a partner in a multi-unit, Florida-based quick lube company. A 20-year veteran of the industry, Sullivan has more than 28 years experience in sales and management training. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. He can be reached via email:

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