In this blog post series, we will look into the aspects of work that go beyond time management.
Do you know the one secret ingredient that is paramount to improving the quality of your work, professionalism and provides you with a clear perspective on your career? It’s something you’re already well-familiar with: commitment.
Commitment is essential to human life. Think about it — commitment is what makes an individual’s behaviour predictable amid all the arising desires and curiosities and also what supports social behaviour such as smoother coordination of joint actions between individuals. Researchers found that when we are experiencing doubts while working towards a goal, whether we look backward or forward depends on our sense of commitment to that goal. Commitment is often what we turn to when we are in doubt, bored, distracted, or otherwise tempted, it’s called “gritted teeth commitment”. This type of commitment is interesting because researchers suggest that gritted teeth commitment might work by focusing attention on more enjoyable aspects of the task to motivate us further. What a wonderful mechanism right there!
If one of your New Year Resolutions is to improve your own sense of commitment to your work, here are some hints to try:
- Identify your values
Consider what your personal values are and what aspects of your work are aligned with them. Next, explore the aspects of the work that challenge some of your personal values. Then ask yourself how can that gap be bridged in a healthy way? For example, you could find yourself less committed to a team project because you value factuality, but your colleagues seem far more casual with their fact-checking. To bridge this gap in a constructive way, you might want to voice your concerns at the next team meeting and ask your colleagues to join you in your pursuit of truth. Identifying what are the internal reasons for your commitment struggles will help greatly.
- Reframe failure as…
… an opportunity for growth. At times, there is seemingly nothing that is preventing us from being committed to our work in the way we would want to be. Let’s say you tremendously enjoy the work you do and that your values are well-reflected in it. However, setback after setback corroded your sincere efforts, and now you are simply less committed to finishing what you started. Yet, there is nothing within you that is stopping you. Nothing except your perception of setbacks as corrosion rather than an opportunity for growth. A valuable opportunity to take a closer look at your methods and improve your work.
But while the examples above are helpful for improving one’s macro sense of commitment, what about if you struggle with commitment on a micro level? Well, try precommitment then.
Research proposes that precommitment is an effective strategy for promoting self-control. As a jolly example, let’s say you have an idea to control your sugar intake by eating your favorite dessert — sticky ginger pudding — on Fridays only. If you spend the rest of your week being tempted by various cupcakes and cookies that your friends are offering you, you will be having a hard time. However, if you precommit — voluntarily restrict your access to temptations — by sharing your one-dessert-weekly commitment with your friends and asking them to comply, you got yourself a far more effective strategy than mere willpower. Similarly, precommitment is a strategy to consider when time management fails us short. Does reading news stress you on packed days? Precommit to read none on Mondays. Do you love your work but struggle with motivating yourself to start? Precommit to always start your work in the first ten minutes of arriving at the office. Go on now and choose a single precommitment you want to make today.