There have been many times in my personal growth career when I have made an interpersonal behavioral commitment to another person, and many more times that I have accepted them from others. I have most often participated in making commitments during men’s teams work and in the coaching training that I took. Making structured formal interpersonal commitments has, at times, been a powerful tool for helping me to shape my life to be more powerful, intentional, healthy, and clear.
The method of doing interpersonal commitments that I am used to, what I am comfortable with, and what I have seen works is:
* Someone makes a commitment. They actually intend to fulfill it. The person is not perfect, since commitments often involved edgy challenges – but the person making commitments generally fulfills on say 80-90% of the commitments that they make.
* The person making the commitment explicitly explains the context for the commitment when making it, i.e. what they positively hope to accomplish through the action being committed to, and why that matters to them. For example, if your goal is to return phone calls of potential clients within twenty four hours, your motivation might be to be of service to them, to keep your headspace clear, and to be attentive to your own financial security (which is in service of creating a platform for you to be the best you possible).
* The commitment is ideally made from a place of consideration, reflection, and commitment to higher ideals, rather than from a place of emotional upset, fear, and compensation.
* The commitment is made in clear, measurable terms; in other words, it will be obvious whether the person succeeded or not. “Be more loving” or “be more responsible” are not goals that can be measured. “Tell five people per day for a week that I love them” and “finish my last three years of taxes and mail them to the IRS by the tenth of the month” are, however, clear and measurable.
* There is usually a time agreed upon by which the commitment will be completed.
* While the person is engaged with the action steps of the commitment, support from a coach, members of a team, or friends is helpful and effective. This support of course may take the form of phone calls, texts and emails, and in-person meetings. While in communication, the supporting people can check in about progress towards the goal, help keep the commitment in awareness, help problem-solve about obstacles that have emerged, and remind the committed person of their inspirational motivation.
* At the end of the specified time frame, the person checks back in as to whether they completed their commitment or not.
* If they completed it successfully, there may be a reward. If the person does not complete, there is a consequence. (These rewards and consequences are often/usually agreed upon beforehand)
* If the person habitually fails at their committed goals, the group or individual holding the commitments for them gives them feedback about how they may approach that area of life in a different way. The person who has been failing at commitments takes in the input, and agrees to actually do the difficult work of trying to look at things differently, or to try a different way of approaching things.
* When a person successfully fulfills their commitment (which, again, ideally happens with most of the ones that they make), there is ideally some time for integration. This takes the form of a conversation about what challenges did the person face, how did they overcome them, what did they learn in the process, how does the world seem different after having completed the committed action, and what does the next step seem to be. Hasta la victoria, siempre.