Keeping Promises With Yourself

By , December 11, 2010 8:49 pm

“Your life works to the degree you keep your agreements.”

Werner Erhard.

How often have you made a promise to yourself and then broken it?

I’ve done this LOADS of times.

My broken promises always related to my self-care, well-being or personal growth. Each promise had a high value to me such as improving my health, keeping fit or creating more personal time in my insane work schedule. I made them with an intent to see them through.

…Then my reactive, chaotic life would get in the way. I’d constantly let myself down.

I would make excuses not to go to the gym because I was too busy. I’d get home tired have a glass of wine and eat unhealthily instead. I ‘deserved it’ after a such a hard day. My dream of being healthier slipped further away. I’d get frustrated and blame work (or anyone else) for my lack of commitment to my personal goals.

One day I was writing in my journal about this frustration when I became aware of the impact of making and breaking these casual promises was actually having on my life.  Every time I broke a promise with myself my self-esteem took a hit because I was literally letting myself down.

Instead of following through I created a mental list of musts, oughts and shoulds, which added to my existing worry and anxiety. I then carried the burden of this heavy list around with me every day.

Here’s the thing…

When you make an agreement with yourself and you don’t see it through you actually learn to distrust yourself. As a by-product of this you lose self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect. In other words you really are letting yourself down.

You lose your ability to achieve a result. Not showing up for what you say you’re committing too unconsciously creates confusion and self-doubt.

Your personal power is reduced and you weaken your sense of integrity with yourself.

Here’s how I learned to keep important promises to myself:

1. Agree on actions you only intend to keep – Check in with your intention – WHY do you want to agree to do this? How do you feel about it? WHY is this important to you? Are you committed or just interested?

2. Write down your agreements – The act of writing is very powerful. Write a contract to yourself to commit time, effort and energy. The main reason that we don’t keep agreements is because in the busy-ness of life we get distracted and simply forget. Written agreements remind us of our commitments.

3. High Value Time – How high do you value your own well-being, learning and growth?  Don’t pay lip service to YOU. Value this time as high priority because this is what will make your more successful.

4. Schedule it to make it happen – Adding an action to your to-do list and saying you’ll do it this week, is a plan for failure! You have to schedule a date and time to really make things to happen. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it.

5. Show Up – Agree to show up, even if you don’t feel like it. I honour my agreement to go to the gym, even if I don’t feel like it after a busy day at work. I know how it makes me feel afterwards so I show up. It becomes just part of what I do each week…And YES you have to commit time and energy for it to happen. Make the effort – YOU are worth it!

6. Learn to say no – Ring-fence and protect High Value Time for YOU. Say no to other activities stealing that time back. Place a high value on it and set some boundaries. Stop giving up this time for a reactive activity.

What agreements have you made with yourself?

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