What makes a habit stick? My last post introduced the first habit for a family that wins—care. But what is the habit that ensures all other positive characteristics actually become habits?
The key to anything going from good idea, to dream, to a reality that can be replicated is the second habit – commitment.
The family that values commitment will be a family that is well-positioned to win.
Parents and families are not lacking in ideas of how to get stronger and win together, but those ideas often go off-course because the family has not developed the habit of commitment.
In fact, Jim Rohn once said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
Families that win have the habit of commitment to keep them going.
It’s huge. But what does it look like for a family?
3 Things Families that Practice Commitment Actually Do
Based on my experience with my own family, there are three things that really jump out to me about families that practice the habit of commitment.
1. They know the why behind the commitment.
They know why they are making the commitment. And they know it before they make the commitment.
Without the why, the commitment will fade when tested by life.
For example, over the last couple years I’ve struggled to maintain the practice of journaling. I had always wanted to journal. My wife bought me three journals over that period of time. She wrote a really nice note inside the journal telling me what she wanted me to write about.
She even got a journal that we could use to write back and forth to each other.
We talked to our kids about journaling. We bought journals for the kids and encouraged them to write in them, but it really didn’t stick for me or our family.
And then I found a journal that I had written 24 years ago. I didn’t even remember writing this journal, and yet I had written 109 pages.
As I read it, I got tears in my eyes. The hairs on my arms stood on end as I read the messages that I wrote then to my future self about the things I wanted to share with my kids someday.
As it happened, when I came across this journal I had been struggling with what I should say to my oldest son who was planning to leave for China in two days’ time. I had been pondering how I was to challenge and impart wisdom to him when he would be gone from us for six months on the other side of the world.
Then two days before he left, I found this journal with everything I needed to share with him!
I highlighted some things in the journal, took him to lunch, and simply read them to him. The words were better than anything I could have come up with now.
And did I ever get crystal clear on why I should journal!
I’ve been journaling with renewed conviction ever since that moment. I shared what happened with the entire family and inspired them to journal.
2. They prepare before they promise.
Families that have the habit of commitment don’t commit lightly. They count the cost and make plans accordingly.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality.” Exactly right!
They research a situation to understand what it is they’re promising, just as any wise businessperson would do. They discuss together what it is they’re promising, so that when they make the commitment, they know what is at stake.
In my own family, we’ve seen this play out with our kids about healthy eating. For a while, my wife would cook healthy foods and the kids thought, Well, that’s just what mom does. But there was no rhyme nor reason to it, and since Ann wasn’t always the one to cook, the results were pretty haphazard.
Finally, after we talked a lot about it, did our research, and considered the benefits, we all chose to make a family commitment to healthy eating.
We first had to figure out what it was going to take to be able to live this way. My wife involved the kids and engaged them with a 30-day experience. Unlike other times when she had tried and failed to get them to commit, it worked this time because we prepared before we promised.
3. They are unafraid to share their commitment with others.
If we keep our commitment to ourselves, it’s easier to break off when the going gets tough.
When we share it with others, we get accountability, one of the five key practices I talk about in my eBook You and Your Family Can Win at Home.
We always try to involve our kids when making a commitment so that the whole family can hold itself accountable. Sometimes it goes a step further, and the kids will share the commitment with grandparents, other relatives, or a small group.
We did a memorable RV trip last summer. It was a huge undertaking, covering 8,000 miles across 26 states. We made the commitment to do it as a family, and we followed the process I am outlining here.
We knew why we were doing it. We prepared a lot before we made the commitment. We then shared the commitment with other people.
If it had not been for all of that, we probably would have backed out many times.
Ann and I have made a huge commitment as parents of a blended family, or a family merger, as we call it.
As our kids get older, we realize that we’ve got good kids. But we also realize it is not our job as parents to raise good kids. Our job is to rear good adults.
That understanding of our commitment is taking it to the next level for our family.
We’ve had to start intentionally communicating with our kids, being more transparent about our plans so that when we changed certain practices, they would connect the changes to our commitment.
By sharing the carefully considered commitment with them, we built accountability into the process.
One of my favorite people who ever lived on this earth, Zig Ziglar, said, “Most people who fail in their dreams, fail not from lack of ability, but from lack of commitment.”
I say the exact same thing is true with families.
Families who fail to win do so because they lack this critical habit of commitment.
Families that win are the ones who intentionally develop the habit of commitment.
And that truly makes all the difference in getting the other habits to stick.
Question:Where have you found commitment to be important in your family? What ways have you found to develop this habit in your own family? You can share your thoughts by clicking here.