There is a distinction between commitment and attachment. One focuses on the process, the other focuses on the results. One can leave you peaceful and constantly improving and the other can leave you disappointed, frustrated, or generally unhappy.
When I was a child, I started to base my worth on the results I produced: my good grades meant my mother would compliment me, better cricket skills meant I was more popular with the kids in my village/town/neighborhood/block. The better the results, the more attention and love I got. It didn’t matter how I got there, as long as the end result was impressive. This is common for most humans. Young children cannot distinguish why they are getting the attention and only look at what causes it. So my young brain rationalized that I was being rewarded for the results I was producing and this led to a relentless pursuit of success through my teen years and most of my early adulthood.
But something was missing. Each time I did not meet a goal or achieve a result I aimed for, I was extremely displeased and I began to see myself as unworthy or not good enough. I was so attached to the result that I did not pay attention to the process taken to get there. I had to shift my approach to success in order to actually be successful.
Commitment vs attachment
It is important to distinguish the difference between commitment and attachment. Most people don’t give much thought to the difference but the meanings of each can change how the word is interpreted. Below are the Merriam-Webster definitions:
Commitment is the state of being dedicated to a cause.
Attachment is being emotionally connected to something.
Notice the use of “state of being” in the definition of commitment. In other words, your whole self is so dedicated to what you are up to that it becomes who you are. In every step in your journey to achieve results, you show up as the kind of person who produces the results you are seeking without worrying about the actual outcome. For example, if you are committed to living a healthier lifestyle, you show up everyday as the kind of person who lives a healthier lifestyle. You don’t even give a second thought to eating cleaner because that is just who you are. That is commitment.
On the other hand, if you are attached to living a healthier lifestyle, you are emotionally attached to what that lifestyle can give you. Maybe it is a smaller pants size or to be able to hike a mountain. So when you don’t see those results, you have an emotional reaction – sad, frustrated, disappointed, or defeated.
When In Time Tec was founded in 2009, all five co-founders made a declaration that our company would focus on creating abundance. We had no emotional attachment to any actual results, but we were deeply committed to the process of creating abundance. We were dedicated to HOW and WHY we were doing things and not WHAT we were looking to get out of it. Yes, we still set goals, we still had milestones, but we took our time to ensure that the process to achieve them was intentional, meaningful, and in line with our core values of trust, transparency, integrity, and leadership. Our state of being was dedicated to consistently being the type of company that achieved those results the right way.
Focus on the process and evaluate progress
As the game you are playing gets bigger and more meaningful to you, you cannot produce results until you focus on process. You might try but until you are intentional about how to get there, you will inevitably be faced with a negative emotional reaction to the outcome.
Everyone has heard the quote by Norman Vincent Peale, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” What he is saying is that even if you don’t reach your original goal, the work you did to get there will still result in incredible results. So if you are committed to living a 100% clean-eating lifestyle and sometimes fail, you will still see massive changes in your health that would have otherwise not been possible. And those changes will be consistent because you focused on the process and not the end result.
A nice side effect is that you’ll be happy, peaceful, and enjoying life while going through the process.
Similarly, in business, if you are committed to an ambitious goal and focus on how and why you are going to achieve it, even if you don’t meet that exact goal, all the work you did in an attempt to reach that goal has still moved the needle in the right direction. This kind of approach to any declaration you make will be the most effective way to produce consistent results, regardless of outcome.
One important thing to look at along the way is your actual progress. Are you on track to reach your goal? If so, keep going. If not, you need to figure out what is missing that could be causing you to be off track.
Analyze what’s missing
You will inevitably reach a point in your journey that you are no longer seeing the benefit of or finding joy in the process. Either you have run out of patience or you know the results are not going to come. At this point, it is time to step back and analyze.
You need to figure out what is missing. Why are you no longer finding joy or lacking patience or not seeing the results? It will take time and concerted effort to work through the process. So if you are just frustrated about the timeline, you are not committed. With a healthier lifestyle, if you are still not able to hike that mountain, you might want to give up. But what you might be missing is that you can now hike farther up the mountain than you could four months ago. What you have accomplished by focusing on the process has moved you closer to your goal.
Furthermore, think about what is missing if the process is no longer working. Are you not tackling the right tasks, are you not spending enough time, are you really just not that committed to the outcome? It might be that your internal drive is not in alignment with your goal. If it is no longer inspiring to you, it could be time to declare a different outcome.
Life will move forward whether or not you produce results or achieve your goals.
What matters is that on a daily basis you are invested and committed to the process. The outcomes you seek are just by-products of the process you are focusing on every day.
At In Time Tec, we are committed to becoming a $100 million company by 2024 so everyday we show up as people who build $100 million companies and we focus on the process it will take to get there. If 2022 comes along and we are not on track to meet that goal, we will adjust our expectations but never give up. We will identify what is missing, how we can change course, and what it will take to get there.
For us, because we operated in the space of commitment to creating abundance over the past 10 years, we now have a company culture where all of our employees dedicated their lives to creating abundance for themselves, their families, co-workers, clients, and the communities we live in. As you think about your own life, consider changing your approach to your goals and the results you want to produce.
Are you attached to the outcome or are you committed to the process? A simple but powerful distinction between these two will affect whether you’re achieving a lot of results but not experiencing life or having a lot of fun and living a meaningful life.