How to make—and keep—resolutions to yourself with some advice from a life coach.
Almost everyone you know has probably made at least one New Year’s resolution in his or her lifetime. Resolutions are, in fact, an important part of The Handel Group method. We call them “promises,” instead of resolutions, but the two are truly one and the same. However, the reason New Year’s resolutions get such a pre-emptive, disbelieving eye roll is not because designing your coming year at the end of this year and backing it with actions (promises) is a bad idea. In fact, it’s genius.
The problem lies within the fact that when it comes to keeping a promise to ourselves, most of us are lousy at it. Sure, we’re pretty good at keeping promises to others (our kids, boss and best friends), but when it comes to keeping a promise to ourselves, New Year’s Eve or not, we’re last on our very own list.
We’ve got zero problem making promises or resolutions, it’s the keeping them that’s our issue. Worse, we actually walk around like “personal integrity” is something we have. But if I define “personal integrity” as the ability to keep a promise to yourself that is a match with your dream, and then aligning your actions (body), heart (desire/dream) and head (plan), how would that stack up for you?
Personal integrity is the secret sauce to happiness. Self-esteem, pride and confidence come from knowing you can count on you.
Sure, in some places where you’re successful in your life, you’ve figured out how to quiet your inner dialogue and not only mean what you say, but also do it. But in any area of your life where you’re not proud, you are busy excusing, feeling bad, blaming and justifying, instead of seeing where you are not in the right actions to realize your dream.
Learning how to keep a promise to yourself and bypassing the need for feeling guilt or shame, or needing excuses altogether, is the key not only to making honest resolutions but fighting the right fight to keep them.
Tips for making promises
Before you sit down and start writing out promises to yourself, there are a few important guidelines you may find helpful.
- Be realistic. Make sure you are making a promise that you believe can happen. So, for example, promising to win the lottery might not be the best of promises.
- Stretch yourself. Make sure your promises are a stretch for you. Promising to floss your teeth daily when you already do it is more sleaze than stretch.
- Be specific. Your promises need to be wiggle-proof. When making a promise, make sure you can answer the following questions: how often, how long, how much and by when.
- Use powerful language. Using sincere language. Like, hope, try and wish will not cut it when making promises that are conducive to keeping.
- Manage the external world. How many of us have blamed the airport when we don’t eat healthily? Think ahead and promise accordingly.
- Get the joke. The more you resent having to make a promise, the more you need that very promise.
Five promises to make to yourself in 2018
Use the new year for the gift it is—the “Monday” of all I’ll-start-it-on-Mondays. Mean it. And better than mean it, follow the tips above when making these promises to yourself.
- Promise #1. Write down your dream for 2018. Have it be a stretch but not a pipe dream, and write it as if it’s already happened, as if it’s December 31, 2018, and you are looking back at the year. What did you make happen? Yes, write it in the past tense.
- Promise #2. Using the tips above, come up with three to five promises, which, if you do them, would realize your dream. So, for example, if part of your dream for 2018 is to run the New York City Marathon, there are definite actions to take and sneakers to buy!
- Promise #3. Share your dream for 2018 and your three to five promises with at least three of your nearest and dearest who will not only clap for you but hold you accountable for making it happen.
- Promise #4. Get honest about your all-time favorite brand of excuse or excuses. Are you a procrastinator, not a morning person, a snooze-button-pushing, traffic-blaming person? Confess it to everyone and make a promise about it. For example, if you are always late, pay $5 to each person you are late for. Let everyone know this is your promise and consequence. Go to the bank and keep a wad of fives on you.
- Promise #5. Eat bold for breakfast. In other words, do at least one bold thing a day, every day. Do the last thing you want to do, first. And, yes, go public with this, too.
Tips for keeping the promises you’ve made
In order to trump all the feelings of shame and guilt, come up with self-imposed consequences should you not do what you said you would. Consequences should be funny, outrageous, icky and irksome. They should sting enough to make you think twice before you bypass your promise.
- Come up with the right self-imposed consequence. Depending on your brand of inner brat, the right consequence could be paying money, losing your favorite vice (alcohol, weed, Netflix, chocolate, screen time, etc.) or a crack-of-dawn workout.
- Go public with your promise and consequence. Yes, with someone who will hold you to keeping it.
- Find an accountability buddy. Someone you can trust, who will call you out on your crap. Do the same for them. Champion each other’s dreams.
Visit handelgroup.com for a special 24Life offer for Inner.U, or to schedule a complimentary coaching consultation.
Photo credit: Tim Graf, Unsplash