What do we know about promises? My belief has always been that if you make a promise to someone, you are going to follow through and make it happen. It’s that assurance that you will do something. I don’t know about you, but if there’s ever a time that I can’t keep a promise, I feel as if I’m letting the other person down. All well and good when you’re making a promise to someone else, but what happens when that promise is to yourself? Do you feel the same way?
The reason that I’m asking the question is that through my coaching practice and being more observant of myself, I have become extremely conscious about where we place ourselves on our own list of priorities. Having something in the calendar that you’ve earmarked to do for yourself can be so easily disregarded when someone else asks you to do something. And when we continually bump our own work for other’s we start to devalue the time we set aside for ourselves and allow it to become a habit. Not only that, it starts to teach us that we keep promises to others but we don’t mind letting ourselves down.
Now, there may be times when it feels right to focus on someone else’s work rather than your own especially if what we’re doing at the time is a mundane task. However, if you’re focusing on one of your top priorities, it makes sense to see it through, not only because you get the job done, but because it’s good for building the levels of trust with yourself! Achieving our priorities and bringing them to life helps develop our self-esteem building confidence in our abilities. It also strengthens our time management skills. By proactively scheduling our priorities and sticking to them, we achieve our goals much more quickly; we get what we planned!
Recognising why you don’t keep the promise to yourself is an important step to help you carve out new working patterns. Here are some that I’m aware of that makes me become easily distracted:
- a task being too big,
- the work being a ‘fill in’ piece of work or something I don’t enjoy doing
- enjoyment/intrigue for the work I’m being asked to do or
- it’s just become a habit to drop my own work and focus on everyone else’s.
So what can we do to keep our promises to our self?
- Ask yourself if it’s something that you REALLY want to do. If it’s not, you’ll find reasons not to do it! It’s much easier to follow through on something you want to do rather than feel you have to do, so focus on the silver lining!
- Write down your promise to keep you focused and accountable.
- Make your promise measurable so that you can check whether you’re on track.
- Remember that saying yes to something means saying no to something else. Think about what you will be saying no to before you agree to the request.
Finally, I wonder if it’s easier to keep a promise to others because you feel they are keeping you accountable whereas when you make a promise to yourself, no-one else knows about it but you? If this is the case perhaps you need to find yourself an accountability partner.
Whenever I’m being coached, I know that I travel much broader and deeper in my work than if I’m the only one holding myself to account. If you feel I could help you remain on track and achieve your goals for the future, please do get in touch.