Have you ever made a promise to someone? What helps you keep it? Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to let others down. Other times we do it to avoid the guilt we will feel if we break our promise to someone we care about.
But what about ourselves? How many times to we make promises to ourselves but don’t follow through? It seems so easy to break our promises to ourselves, partly because we justify that if we are disappointed, it’s okay and partly because no one but us knows if we have broken a promise to ourselves.
Over the past months, I made a promise that I would blog every day. I was able to keep that promise to myself, but part of the reason I did was that I knew other people would know whether or not I kept that promise. Once upon a time I promised myself that I would work out every day. No one knew about that promise and it was easy to break.
Making and keeping promises to ourselves is how we make changes in our lives, how we move toward having the kind of life we dream of and how we meet the goals we have set for ourselves. It requires self-discipline. I recommend that we begin to build the habit of making and keeping promises to ourselves by starting small. Very small. One tiny thing you can do consistently. It should be barely noticeable. For me, I am keeping a journal and I promised to write every morning. It takes about 15 minutes in the morning. I have been able to keep that promise because I carved out time for it.
What small promise can you make and keep with yourself? Once you know what small thing you want to promise to yourself, I encourage you to do the following:
- Write it down. Write it in a journal or on a post-it note. Keep it small but be specific. Are you going to practice yoga each night for 20 minutes? Write in your journal for 5 minutes? Drink one green smoothie every morning? Make your bed every day? It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is the act of making and keeping the promise.
- Make sure you can see it. If you look at your phone often, keep your promise written down there. Or stick your post-it note on your bathroom mirror. Let it act as a reminder that you are keeping your promise to the most important person in your life.
- Chart your progress. Seeing your progress keeps you motivated. It also feels really good when you can see that you have kept your promise to yourself. For me, looking through my journal and seeing an entry every day reminds me that I am worth keeping a promise to and motivates me to keep going.
- Keep it short. You don’t need to make a promise that you have to keep forever. Try setting a time limit. I am going to go to the gym every morning for two weeks. I am going to clear my email inbox every day before I leave work for one week. Keeping those small promises helps us see that we can do it and it helps us to know we can keep bigger promises to ourselves as we make changes in our lives.
Keeping small promises to ourselves is a big deal. We should not be the one person we can break a promise to. When we can learn to keep small promises to ourselves, we will find that our lives begin to shift and we can begin to make bigger changes in our lives. We learn to trust ourselves which allows us to change the things that are familiar but maybe are not most beneficial.
What small promises can you make for and to yourself today? I would love to hear how you are building trust with yourself.