Most people make an effort to keep their promises. They would hesitate to abandon a promise made to a friend or family member, however many would not even think twice about bailing out on a promises to themselves. But breaking those promises that we make to ourselves is self-sabotage and may be more harmful than most people realize. Fortunately, it also easier to stop doing than most people realize.
We find ourselves at the end of 2014 and teetering at the cusp of the year 2015, hoping, dreaming and planning our new year of possibility. Many of us are busy creating lists of goals and resolutions for the near and not so near future. Where are you in this transition phase from the old to the new?
Maybe you have set big goals for yourself or perhaps like millions of others, you have decided upon the resolutions that will mark the beginning of the year and new personal era. And like many others, you may already have a suspicion that those resolutions that you will make with vigorous conviction and the best intentions won't make it past the end of the next month.
In fact, even within days of making them, some resolution will already begin fading to the back of your mind. There they will remain, inactive, or so you think.
The truth is our abandoned resolutions and the broken promises we make to ourselves, still have the power to drain our energy like a parasite that only looks harmless until you take it under the loop for examination. It is when we take a closer look at the nature of broken resolutions and neglected goals that we realize that the promises that we repeatedly make and break to ourselves are harmful and left to nest at the back of our minds, they grow roots of self-defeat that can suck the life out of our hopes, dreams and visions.
Am I being too melodramatic? You tell me.
What I know for sure is that the more often we break promises to ourselves, the easier it gets to break them. Think of that fitness club membership that you never use; no matter how often you have renewed it. What about that foreign language? Sure, Rosetta Stone appreciates your business, but seriously, when are you going to start spending that hour week learning French, like you said you would? And weren't you going to be home by dinner time more often last year? And the more often we break our promises to ourselves, the less likely we are to achieve our goals and live our dreams. It doesn't have to be this way.
So what can you do to make promises to yourself that you will keep? At the risk of sounding like your mother, the key to succeeding here is knowledge- and action. Knowing what you want to achieve is important and knowing why is even more important and knowing how the why connects to and aligns with your core values is absolutely essential. When you are fully aware of the responses to these three questioning words, the action part becomes so much easier.
Let's look at the New Year's resolution classic of how this works.
Imagine your big 2015 goal is to lose weight; let's say 15 pounds. That is your what. Now, why do you want to lose 15 pounds? If your response is something like, "so, I can look better," I challenge you to connect "So I can look better" to one of your innermost values what you and your life are about. If you have difficulty doing this, your resolution is already well down the path of defeat. Why? Because although there is a certain high that comes with rocking that pencil skirt or flexing the pecs under that rugged Henley shirt, at the most basic level, we desire more. We are wired for a purpose-driven life; we want things to matter to us and make a difference in our lives and the world around us.
Do you feel an argument, welling up inside you? Perhaps you are thinking, "Hey lady, I really do want to lose 15 pounds and look hot, darn it!" O.k. Then get to the bottom of "why". Let's go back to the goal and try to find out where "looking better" fits into what is at the core of who you are and what you value.
What would "looking better" really mean to you? Imagine you have lost the weight. Go through the whole scenario in your mind as if you are living one day in your new body. How do look now? How does that make you feel? What is now different about your day or even about your life?
Let's say you now imagine yourself wearing a fabulous outfit as you join a group of friends or colleagues for cocktails at a really "in" place, that you didn't feel comfortable going to before (nor did you get invited.) Perhaps, the core value that is crying out for attention is "a sense of belonging" or "the need to feel accepted". How much more powerful is that connection than simply "looking better"?
Understanding what is driving you to make resolutions and other promises to yourself and the world, will help you to address the real issues and exponentially increase your chances of reaching any goal you choose.
So here's another challenge from me to you: drag out all those resolutions nesting at the back of your mind - It may be a bit scary, but you can do it! Look at the what, examine the why and connect it to a core value.
If you can't connect the why to one of your core values, you may be trying to live up to something you think you "should" be doing simply because the world says so and not because you truly want to achieve this. If you are able to connect the why to a core value, make sure that it is a positive value, anything else is just your inner critic trying to convince you that you are less than worthy and less than absolutely fabulous. (This is something else that I know for sure: You and I were made to shine and radiate the magnificent light of our creator, so let's do that!)
So clear out the parasites at the back of your mind! Put all your energy into making your dreams come true and living up to who you are meant to be.
And just for the record, while you may want to do so for your health, you don't need to lose 15 or even 5 pounds to be accepted and appreciated, although you may need to drop some dead weight like negative thinking and superficial "friends"...
Now, what do you want to manifest in your life in the new year? Take action. Make it happen!
You don't have to do it alone. Post your goals, resolutions and promises here, so we can be your accountability partners and your raving supporters. Here's to you and your best year yet!
Denise Banks-Grasedyck is an international personal and professional development coach, consultant and speaker. Denise helps professionals and executives achieve greater results in life and business with less effort, less stress and more joy. Visit her at www.banks-grasedyck.com
(Photo credits: DepositPhotos)