The hidden commitments that hold us back

by Feb 7, 2023

Hidden commitments holding us back

Identify your personal hidden commitments, reflect on your actions, and look at the behaviours that hold you back.


Ever found you have set yourself goals but can’t seem to achieve them? Sometimes you might even know in general terms what behaviours are holding you back. These are known as “hidden commitments” which refer to unconscious or implicit agreements that we all make subconsciously with ourselves. These influence our behaviour and the decisions we take.

Hidden commitments can be rooted in a range of factors, including our upbringing and education, previous experiences, and even cultural or societal expectations, as well as our own personal values.

One way to identify your personal hidden commitments is to reflect on your actions and look at the behaviours which hold you back. Ask for feedback from colleagues and family.

Underlying assumptions

Factor in any underlying assumptions or values that drive your behavior and your responses to certain situations. These assumptions can be deeply rooted beliefs you hold about yourself, and the world around you and your own expectations. These beliefs drive behaviours to support your hidden commitments, even unconsciously.

Yes, we even apply our own biases to ourselves.

If you are consistently not meeting any goal then it’s important to step back and reflect on the habits that may be interfering with your success.

An extension of the GROW model created by the late Sir John Whitmore, founder of Cognitive Behaviour Coaching, the GROWTH model an extension of this technique is a very helpful methodology to help you get there.


Common Example

Margot is a senior executive with two young kids and a professional husband. They are equal revenue generators. She is looking for a better work-life balance.

GOAL – Improved work-life balance
REALITY  – working 50+ hours per week. Feeling tired and stressed.
OPTIONS / OBSTACLES –   saying no to a demanding boss, prioritising, inconsistent team, the volume of work, need to run a busy household
WILL / WAY FORWARD  – wanting to spend more time with my family and on self-care
TACTICS – create a plan to free up more time and prioritise tasks
HABITS  – Identify habits that will sustain success  – this includes letting go of old ones and building new ones.

hidden commitments

5 steps to Identify hidden commitments

Start uncovering your hidden commitments, by exploring these discovery points

  1. What change would help you most towards achieving your goals?  Working shorter hours
  2. What do you have to do to make this happen? Tell my boss I can’t take on additional work currently and expect more from my team so I can delegate without concern.
  3. Which behaviours prevent you from achieving this? Agreeing to additional work and being available to my team.
  4. How do you feel when you consider responding differently?  Anxiety.  Stress. Worried about the quality of the results.
  5. When you honour your hidden commitment what beliefs are you supporting? I need to work hard for career success and the rewards that go with being successful. I could be passed over for promotion or lose my job. The quality of work won’t be good enough, My team relies on me. I will get a bad reputation.

Hidden commitments and stereotypes

It’s only by digging deep to discover what our hidden commitments are and the beliefs that support them that can we start making changes. These hidden commitments can be rooted in a number of very personal factors and qualities as we discussed but also in societal expectations and gender stereotypes especially around being a mother.

This is manifested in maternal gatekeeping and “mum guilt” all of which can spill over into the workplace.

We will look into how Margot changed her situation next time.



Need help identifying what is holding YOU back from reaching your goals? Get in touch NOW

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
follow me

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services

Individual services

Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.

Corporate services

The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)

Upcoming events


Read Dorothy Dalton's latest Interview with Go Solo: Building Inclusive Work Places 

📢New Programme available with 3Plus International

“If you have a brain you have a bias” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our hiring processes.

The ‘How to Mitigate Bias in the Recruitment Process’ programme is designed to convey the serious nature of bias in the recruitment process with a focus on gender bias and the way it impacts both businesses and organisations, but in a way that is thought-provoking and engaging.



Full programme details HERE

Dates for the Diary


March 16th - Corporate training: Building a Circle of Success for Senior Executives


Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges women face in this new totally digital world.


best job search


3Plus Online Learning Programs 





Download and listen free podcasts

Related articles