Concrete Commitments

Concrete Commitments

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Jan 02, 2023 • 4 min read
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Remembering the positive past has helped us bring light to our previous successes and identify our unique strengths. Hopefully, we have gained more confidence to repeat and magnify our achievements. Imagining the fantastic future has built on that positive past and allowed us to visualize becoming our best selves using those strengths. We have dreamed of a fantastic future as if it has already happened. However, dreaming alone will not make our dreams come true.

If we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.
Rupert imagines the journey (building his ice cream stand) and the destination (juggling and selling an ice cream).
Rupert is visualizing the journey and the destination.

Research has shown that to benefit from visualization, we must imagine the destination and the journey that will lead us there. Therefore, the process of Appreciative Goal Setting continues with designing the journey toward a fantastic future—by generating concrete commitments.

Generating concrete commitments gives your dreams milestones and deadlines.

A goal is a dream with a deadline. To move beyond daydreaming, we must set goals to achieve our fantastic future.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Generating concrete commitments improves the likelihood that our fantastic future will come true. If making a simple to-do list can help us sleep better, imagine what a roadmap to our dreams can do. As a reminder, the benefits of Appreciative Goal Setting are that it:

  • Encourages belief in ourselves and our abilities
  • Shifts our mindset from self-doubt to growth
  • Inspires and motivates us to work harder
  • Improves our mental and physical health
  • Deepens our interest in our area of expertise
  • Helps us succeed and enjoy the fruits of our actions
Rupert sits at a desk with a pen, paper, and a calendar.
Rupert feels ready to start but needs a plan first.

Action steps

Use the divide-and-conquer method to prevent the journey from becoming overwhelming. The key is to start broad, divide your fantastic future into goals, and conquer each by planning its corresponding milestones and immediate actions. If done right, you will enjoy the process and even experience flow. Here is how you can generate concrete commitments:

  1. Define long-term goals (1 to 30 years). Divide the fantastic future you imagined in the previous lesson into separate goals. You may have one or more goals in different areas of your life, such as family, relationships, health, career, and hobbies. Write them down and give each a realistic deadline. Examples are finding an enjoyable role in your career within 5 years, having kids within 10 years, and living in a completely sustainable house within 15 years.
  2. Define medium-term goals (1 year). Create the following significant milestones you can reach toward each of your long-term goals. Write them down and give each a realistic deadline. For example, you can try a different role at work, spend time with friends with kids to experience first glimpses of parenthood, and learn about sustainable living—each within a year.
  3. Define short-term goals (a day to a week). Identify the stepping stones you can take that will bring you 1% closer to your medium-term goals. Write them down and create a reminder for each. For example, the first steps toward medium-term goals could be identifying your unique strengths using an online assessment within a week, inviting your friends and their kids to dinner next weekend, and finding a podcast led by a competent authority in sustainable living by tomorrow. Then, define the further steps, such as listening to a podcast episode once a week. Always consider using your unique strengths to make the journey enjoyable.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

— Confucius
Rupert is thinking about a hammer, nails, plasters, and a paintbrush.
Rupert is defining short-term goals.

Although you might know what you want today, your circumstances might change. It is essential to approach Appreciative Goal Setting with a healthy amount of flexibility. Adjusting your goals to realign with your new priorities is entirely okay. Only a fool would follow goals that do not make him happy.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.

— Woody Allen

Chase happiness indirectly

Considering the nature of the course you are taking, your fantastic future might involve your happiness or the happiness of your loved ones. When chasing happiness, there is a critical discovery to be aware of. Research has shown that chasing happiness directly will only lead to misery—in the best case. If you resolve to become happier, you must not simply resolve to "become happier." Instead, do things that will make you happier indirectly, ideally by implementing lessons from this course that resonate with you—your right fits.

In the next stage of Appreciative Goal Setting, we will learn to stick with and reach our goals while staying true to ourselves.

Now or never

For the next two weeks, generate concrete commitments. Start with long-term goals, then medium-term goals, and finish with short-term goals. Create a daily reminder.