Every month I write a pep talk to (hopefully) inspire, motivate, or pick you up if you’re feeling down. Think of it as both nurturing encouragement and your ‘kick up the butt’ to get going on your goals or dreams (or just help you feel good).
Promises have sort of lost their gravitas these days.
Maybe they’re overused. I mean, you hear people promising stuff all the time:
“I’ll do it, I promise.”
“Yeah, I promise.”
“That’s the truth, I swear.”
We make them without giving any thought as to the follow through. Without thinking about the respect a promise demands.
Because really, at their heart, a promise is a vow. They’re supposed to be sacred. Honoured.
But who here can say they’ve never ever broken a promise?
What’s one broken promise?
When we break a promise, we’re breaking our word. And though that might not seem like much, those little inconsistencies add up.
Our promises lose their meaning. Our word loses its value.
What we stand for, and – based on that – the very core of who we are, gets lost.
But I’m not here to preach about morality
This isn’t a post about the ethics of keeping your word to others.
No – the issue with throwing promises around all the time is we stop believing in them ourselves.
If we know we’re not going to respect a promise we make to someone else, why would we trust little decisions we make to ourselves? And a promise to someone else has an external accountability to it – if we can’t keep those, there’s definitely no hope in keeping those we make in our head.
We lose faith in our own word. And we don’t even realise it’s happening.
Even tiny things have an impact
Think about it – you tell yourself you’re going to wake up at 6am every morning next week and not hit snooze once. So small and simple.
But then the morning comes and you’re tired, because you didn’t get to bed as early as you’d liked. So if you get up now you’ll just be groggy and tired. That won’t be useful at all, right?
It’s better to get a few more minutes of sleep. Your day will be more productive.
You hit snooze. There was a logical reason for it. One morning doesn’t matter.
But it does matter.
It might seem like it made sense at the time, but right then you broke an agreement you made to yourself. Right from the get go, you didn’t take the promise to wake up at 6am seriously enough to make sure you were in bed early enough to be able to follow through.
Because it was a kind of promise: you told yourself you were going to do something. But then you didn’t do it.
And on its own, maybe that doesn’t seem like much. But it seeds doubt. Self doubt – the very worst kind.
It means the next time you decide to do something, a little piece of your subconscious won’t believe you. We didn’t follow through with the last decision, so why will this time be different? You’ve set up a feedback loop. A pattern of predicted behaviour based on previous behaviour.
Your brain goes on past experiences, and your past experiences say you don’t stick to your word.
That means, when you want to do want commit to doing something that is big or important, you’re not going to have faith in yourself to actually do it.
You’ll lack confidence. You’ll be unsure. You probably won’t follow through on your decisions.
Because that’s what you’ve taught your brain you’ll do.
You know what you have to do though, right? Keep your promises to yourself. Keep your word. Follow through on your decisions.
Which will mean thinking twice before making them. This is the secret – to think before you commit to something. Before you decide to even make the agreement (with yourself or another).
Can I actually commit the time to this?
What will I actually have to do?
Am I going to be able to deliver the results I’m promising?
But from this, your word will mean something again. Not just to other people but to yourself. And that will make you more confident, more capable, and more likely to produce the results you want.
So do yourself a favour – promise yourself you’ll keep your promises.
It’s the most important promise you’ll ever make.
This pep talk is part of a series I write each month, to help motivate, inspire, and give you a boost, either in work or personally – if you like this and want more, find previous pep talks here.