THE BLOG
10/28/2012 10:07 am ET | Updated Dec 28, 2012

How to Keep Your Promises

Imagine if you knew the people you'd encounter today were those whom you knew you could depend on rain or shine, and whose word was their bond. Think about how that would change you, your family and your life.

The promises we make, if large or small, speak volumes about who we are. Whether your promise is as casual as committing to your partner that you'll eat better foods or as serious as eliminating abusive behavior, the promises we make -- to ourselves and others -- have tremendous power, and they can be transforming.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your promises:

Regard your commitments as sacred. Commitments have magical power. They have the power to transform us and help us to rise to our potential. They have the power to make or break relationships and careers. Recognize their power, and don't make a promise unless you fully intend upon keeping it.

Know the pros of keeping your promises. Commitments upheld well are done so by those who understand the benefits of keeping them and the penalties of not. Every choice has an aftereffect. When you choose to honor your word to another, you are planting a seed for a better future -- for yourself and for that relationship.

Know the cons of not keeping your promises. Temptation speaks to all of us -- to choose anger instead of patience, immediate gratification instead of delaying it, comfort instead of effort. Rather than being afraid of temptation or avoiding it, consider facing it head-on. Yes, you could give into the temptation of warm comfort and lie around in bed instead of getting up to take care of your body. You could bail on your promises to change, tempting your focus to land instead on all the ways you might not be able to. But choices have consequences. And not showing up in life -- not showing up in your relationships or career -- bears tremendous consequence. Like not watering or feeding a beautiful plant, not nurturing your relationships and goals with steadfastness will cause them to wither and die.

Get clear on what happens to your relationships and intent if you don't keep your promises. No one wants to be friends or work with someone they can't trust. And get clear on your vision of the kind of friend, husband, wife, person, or professional you want to be. If you're committed to that, you can face temptation and beat it. From that point forward, it will be easy to honor your commitments and be the kind of loving spouse, friend or professional you said you'd be. At the very least, you'll feel empowered to chart a path toward those things and take on any hurdles in the way.

Commitments are responsibilities. Consider them a privilege. Rather than thinking of your responsibilities as a burden, remind yourself that there are scores of people sitting in prison right now who have no freedom, no choices, no responsibilities.

Throughout my life I've made certain promises and commitments that require a lot of me, my time and my creativity, every day. There are days when those responsibilities are challenging. But in that space, I try to remember how these responsibilities can be a very real blessing to me when I choose to learn and grow in the face of those challenges. I tend not to believe that God places challenges in our lives to teach us, just as a loving father wouldn't trip his child to teach him how to run, walk or become agile. But I do believe that there are spiritual answers to the problems that we find in our lives. And I believe that the challenges we face are our own uniquely-designed growth opportunities.

A promise requires something of us, sometimes it's as simple as our time or our energy. But sometimes it requires something more of us, something we have to develop in order to honor our word. Perhaps we need to learn something new, rise to a new standard, take a personal risk such as trust, or embrace personal sacrifice or discipline. Sometimes we have to make a difficult choice in order to keep our word. In a world where standards can be far too flexible to accommodate laziness and the ethically challenged, it's up to us to remember how we can reap the greatest rewards by simply keeping our word and honoring our commitments.

For more by Melissa Van Rossum, click here.

For more on conscious relationships, click here.

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