Learn To Make Promises Instead of Resolutions

Happy New Year! I hope that you experienced some joy and relaxation this holiday.

As we kick off 2024, I know many folks who are making those New Year’s Resolutions – and I also know that the research shows that only 9% of Americans actually complete them, with 43% quitting by the end of January!

As a coach, I can tell you the #1 reason for this sad reality.

It’s the habit that underlies the whole experience.

The habit of breaking promises that you make to YOURSELF.

You might notice in your own life how when it comes to keeping your word for others, your track record is completely different.

Somewhere along the line we internalized that anything we do for other people carries more weight compared to the things we do for ourselves.

We can understand when we break a promise to other people they feel sad, disappointed and unimportant. We lose integrity in their eyes.

But have you ever considered how damaging this is when you fail to keep promises to yourself?

Unintentionally, you’re teaching yourself that you don’t have to take yourself seriously. At an unconscious level, you start to view youself as unreliable; that you don’t matter.

A long line of broken promises to yourself erodes your self trust.

And eventually, you start to view every goal or commitment you make for your improvement as optional.

So let’s begin with viewing the promises you make to yourself as at least equal in priority to showing up to a work meeting, an important appointment or plans with a good friend. For commitments with others, you plan for and around them, you block time in your schedule and you show up. This is a great way to practice holding a standard for our own set of needs so you can begin to show up for yourself in a way that you deserve.

The next step to making and keeping promises to yourself is doing a self assessment on what you truly, really want to create for your life. What will bring YOU the most peace and joy? Make a list, review the list and pick ONE thing to work on. Get crystal clear on WHY so that you can draw on that for a boost of clarity when things get challenging and then make ONE small but exceptionally meaningful promise to yourself.

Start with something doable but slightly challenging; be specific and selective. And finally, put your focus on the actionable, measurable steps rather than the outcome.

Avoid the phrases “I should” or “I really need to “. “I have to…” and instead begin using “I promise to…”

For example, instead of “I really need to eat better” or “I should exercise more”, “I have to lose weight.”, “I have to get my stress under control.”

Try: ” I promise to eat a healthy breakfast every day for 3 months.”; “Over the next 6 months, I promise to walk 20 minutes a day four days a week.”; “Over the next 3 months, I promise to eat more protein and vegetables at each meal instead of skipping meals and relying on junk food.”, “I promise I will block 15 minutes every day for the next month to sit quietly and center my attention on my breath.”

I recommend writing your promise down and sharing it with a friend or colleague who can be your their for support and accountability. Even better, hire a coach, like me who will be as invested in your success as you are!

Learning to make and keep promises to yourself is both an art and a life skill. It is one of the most important opportunities to honor your worth and build self-confidence.

Of course there will be setbacks and detours, which is why showing yourself compassion and empathy is essential.

Learning to be your own cheerleader as you review and refine your progress along the way is part of a heallthy change process.

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