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The ONLY Commitment Strategy You Will Ever Need!

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We all have different goals we wish to reach in life. Some of the goals are to be attained at some point in the future – we will call them “long term goals” – while others are more immediate – we will call them “short term goals.” Some example of long term goals are finishing a degree, finding a compatible partner, starting a family, becoming financially independent, etc. Examples of short term goals are running a marathon – or ultra marathon– losing 30 pounds, writing a book, etc

 

No matter the goals, when looking around we notice that some people seem to be able to always accomplish their goals while others struggle mightily. Finding what makes the difference between success and failure and how to adapt to succeed is the goal of Commitment Strategies. Discussing this with some of the most accomplished people I know, a common theme arises.


Jesper Kenn Olsen, a 43 year old from Denmark, ran around the world twice. No, it is not a typo, Olsen is the first human who completed two fully documented/GPS tracked runs around the world. Being the first he was told “it is impossible” by almost everyone around. Nevertheless he did it.

 
Liz Bauer, a 53 year old from Georgia, completed an astonishing 36 races of over 100 miles in length, in 2012, while working and maintaining a “regular” life. She crushed the previous world record of 25 by 11 races. When she started, she too heard “it is impossible” from almost everyone around.

 
So how was it possible? What was the commitment strategy, Olsen and Bauer employed to accomplish something never done before? From discussions with both athletes and detailed in Olsen’s book The Runner’s Guide To The Planet  one commitment strategy stood out.

 

It’s called No Exit.

 

Both athletes, as well as many others – Dan Ariely speaks of this in Predictably Irrational –The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions -believe that once an action is started we should eliminate from our brain any option other than completion of the goal. By not allowing ourselves the possibility of failure, the brain is forced to find a way to adapt to any circumstance and overcome any obstacle. When we allow ourselves to have an “exit” option the brain will rationalize an excuse to justify failure.

 
The “No Exit Option” is not a new concept. Sun Tzu in the Art of War  advised over 2500 years ago to “Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.”

 
Whatever we wish to accomplish, short term goals or long term goals, using a no exit strategy dramatically improves success rates.

 
Commit yourself fully to the goal, remove the option of failure and success will be yours!

 

 

 

References:

Olsen, J. (2014), The Runner’s Guide To The Planet, Kindle Edition.

Ariely, D. (2010), Predictably Irrational – The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Harper Perennial.

Sun, T. (2002), Art of War, Dover Publications.

The ONLY Commitment Strategy You Will Ever Need!

Andrei Nana

Andrei Nana is a licensed attorney, specializing in business law, business owner, and ultra-runner. Andrei has completed 22 races of 100+ miles or 24 hours, including the Spartathlon in 2013 and 2014 – finishing 2nd American and 27th overall in 2013. Recognizing the need for organization in international ultrarunning, Andrei founded the International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation, which focuses on developing elite international ultrarunning. Nana is also the creator of the first six day race in Florida, the Icarus Florida UltraFest. Sought out for his ability to overcome excuses and his unique approach to commitments, Andrei created Nana Endurance Training and frequently presents to organizations, businesses and works directly with individuals.

For more information about Andrei, visit: www.internationalultrarunning.com or www.nanaendurancetraining.com.


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APA Reference
Nana, A. (2014). The ONLY Commitment Strategy You Will Ever Need!. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/commitment-strategies/2014/12/the-only-commitment-strategy-you-will-ever-need/

 

Last updated: 18 Dec 2014
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Dec 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.