In life, a person's credibility is often measured by things like their net worth, reach of influence, or fame. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe the true measure of a person lies in their honor. Once you strip away all of the noise, the only genuine guarantee that one person can give to another is a vow, staked on their honor.
However, as John Green said in the popular movie The Fault in Our Stars:
"Some people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them."
I personally would amend that quote to say that this is true of most people. Promises are not something to be taken lightly, but it's the promises that you make to yourself that you should be the most careful with; especially if you have a habit of not keeping them.
What is the most commonly broken promise one makes to themselves? (Besides waking up in the morning and saying, "just five more minutes" when your alarm goes off) The most obvious example is a New Year's Resolution.
Let's say this year your resolution was to go running once a week. You've been meaning to start for a while, and its January 1st so now's your chance! That first week you dust off your sneakers and go on a run. Yes! You feel great. The next week you have a huge project due, so you skip it; no big deal. The third week you go on your run. It's hard, but you do it. But then the fourth week you forget. And the fifth week you remember, but it's only been two weeks so it's fine. The sixth week you remember, but you're just so tired...
And then it's July.
Of course you still have the desire to go running. Damn, why didn't you just start running from the get-go? By now it would've been easy! But it's too late. All you've done is feel guilty about setting yet another goal that you didn't accomplish, and you've only succeeded in distancing yourself even further from your mission.
This self-deprecating cycle is very common, and most people fall into it before they realize that it's happening. You set goals for yourself on a whim, without any foreplanning on how you'll actually accomplish them.
You do this when you swear you'll finally quit that job you hate so much, or that finish that degree, or quit smoking. Tasks that are possible, but just hard enough for you to procrastinate on starting them. But the longer you wait, the longer nothing actually changes, and the more guilt and disappointment you'll feel. You are single-handedly bringing down your own quality of life.
Promises to yourself are the most imperative because they establish a key aspect of your identity: your confidence. When you finally achieve something you've been working at, you feel great, right? And that one success can boost your self-confidence to where you feel compelled to attempt even bigger and bolder things.
You've established a cycle of success: you set a goal, put in work, and succeed. Your perspective on life is then supported by feelings of positivity and ambition, and this effects the way you interact with the world. So that when you do eventually fail at something you've work hard for, your self-confidence will be so unshakable that you'll realize while you may not have succeeded at that point, success still possible.
Of course you are more likely to fail at something if you procrastinate or work at it half-heartedly, and it's easy to become frustrated. Goals are sometimes taller mountain than you may have believed at the start, and it's easy to feel defeated before you even take the first step. This frustration inevitably spirals into more negative feelings that can take a serious toll on your mental health.
Especially in modern times, we may often find ourselves neglecting our mental health. This neglect is so unfortunate because our relationship with ourselves should be the single most fortified relationship that we're in! Your self-confidence should be strong enough so that when you make an internal promise, you make it with the intent of giving yourself what you deserve: 110% effort.
So, today I want you to promise yourself: no more broken promises.
If you resolve to do something, you need to ask yourself if you're really prepared to undertake that self-expectation.
If you're not ready yet, don't set yourself up for disappointment by making a promise you won't keep. You aren't running away, you're preparing yourself for battle! Take the time to ask yourself why you can't start your journey right now, and what you need to do to get to a place where you will be ready.
If you feel you are already at the point where you wan to put your words into action, you need to practice self-accountability. Organize your resources (self-help apps, friends and family, scheduling tools, etc.), and design a plan of action that's realistic for you and your goals. As the saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is piece by piece.
Finally, if you fall off the wagon don't feel defeated--feel fired up! Approach every failure and setback with focused optimism. You've made a promise to yourself and you'll be damned if you're going to be the only thing holding you back!
We accept the love we think we deserve (props again to John Green), and you undoubtably deserve to love and trust yourself. Only make promises to yourself that you can keep, and when do you make them, commit to them with your entire being. Your relationship with yourself will blossom. I promise.