Use commitment to goals

Commitment to goals refers to the selection of a certain reference point , e.g. 15% reduction in electricity use within 6 months. The aim is to reinforce motivation by getting your target group to set targets and keep track of how they are being met. The power of commitments depends on how seriously your target group takes their commitment. Serious commitments require a sense of urgency about energy and climate problems. Commitments work better when the participants’ peers will monitor achievements and respect participants that stick to their commitments (see “social support and social pressure”).

What you need to do: 
  • Involve your target group in deciding on the goals.
  • Select goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Some studies indicate that they should also be challenging (i.e., 20% rather than 2%) to have an impact on energy use.
  • Remember to make sure that feedback is available: people need to see whether they have achieved their goals.
  • Provide advice and support. Goals cannot be met unless there is adequate support available to help people reach their goals. 
When does it work?: 

There are some good results from using this tool, but there is also evidence that commitments are not always taken seriously. It can be an appropriate tool when:

  • there is wide agreement on why the goals are important, why they are urgent, and how the target group can make a difference
  • you have some idea of what kind of goals are realistic and achievable, and when you have the means to measure progress
  • people are highly motivated and take their goals seriously
  • your target group has the means to reach their goals
  • there is support from a peer group and advisors
What do you need to look out for: 
It is important to remember that
  • your target group may have other, conflicting goals
  • they may not appreciate goals that are imposed on them