We seem to make promises often, to our boss, parent, teacher, or other family member. Have you ever thought about what it means to make a promise? When you make a promise, other people rely on your promise and expect you to follow through with that promise. If you don’t come through, people can be disappointed and there can be consequences, to you and others. However, making a promise to yourself is whole different story. This year, when you make a promise to yourself, take extra measures to keep that promise. You owe it to yourself.
The mechanics of making a promise includes defining a problem or goal, making a plan, and staying focused to make that plan a reality. When I think about promises I have made to myself, I also have to think about all the promises that I made and broke. I can say that I disappoint myself often, but in thinking about why, I have to say that I can define a problem or goal, make a plan, but have trouble staying focused and keeping the promise I made to myself. It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus. Between my family, my patients, and my friends, I have seen first hand how easy it can be to break a promise to yourself.
For some people, however, defining the problem my be the hardest part. Talking to others can help better define a problem or goal. Asking friends and family about issues can help fill in the unknown, and give you a new view of a situation. Asking people how they overcame issues can help as you make your plan. When I’m working on a plan, the more information I have, the better I can think about the goal and how to get there.
When you finally have enough information, sitting down an putting it all together to make a plan can be overwhelming too. Sometimes, lots of information is a good thing, but sometimes it gets in the way of making good decisions. Weeding out useless information can be very difficult, but it’s needed to make the best decision. I know just reading things in the media today can give so many details about so many things, without really providing a good picture of what’s really happening. So when you have the information you need, sit down, sort things out (decide what’s real and what’s not), and make plan that will work for you.
Making a promise to yourself, when it comes to something important, helps with self-esteem, feeling good about the future, and your happiness. Sometimes, making a promise to yourself is harder to keep, because there is little to no accountability. Disappointing yourself only hurts you, no one else, but hurting yourself has issues in how we view ourselves. Whether you promise yourself you will eat better, get more exercise, find a new job, buy a house, or anything else that would make your life better, keeping that promise is important to you.
So many times I see patients who take care of others, much better than themselves. They make and keep promises to others, but struggle to keep a promise to themselves. They are depressed, not sleeping, overwhelmed, and struggling to care for the people in their lives. Don’t break promises to anyone, but especially don’t break promises you make to yourself. Take the time you need to make your promise come true. Take time for yourself to care for you and make your goal a reality. It will help you be happy for life, and beyond.
And on this sacred of nights, have a very Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!