Don’t Make Promises You Cannot Keep


“Most of us are pretty good at keeping promises to others and pretty bad a keeping promises to ourselves”

– Lawrence LeShan

It is very true, most of us impart a lot of personal integrity when keeping promises to others,  however when we make promises to ourselves we often fall short. So why is it that while we are very concerned with keeping promises to others, when it comes to keeping all of the promises that we make to ourselves we often let those promises slip?

We promise ourselves things like, we are going to lose weight, we are going to quit smoking, we are going to be smarter with how we handle our money, we are going to spend more time with our family, we are going to exercise more, etc. Most of the promises that we make to ourselves are significant, they involve improving our lives, improving our health, education, finances. These promises are important promises, yet we renege on these promises over and over again. WHY?

One of the biggest reasons, is because we are the only ones that we have to deal with. It is very different from keeping promises to others, because we have to deal with those people when fail to keep our promise and deal with the impact that failing to keep a promise will have on us.

This is one of the things we do not recognize in ourselves. We fail to acknowledge and recognize the impact that failing to keep a promise to ourselves has. Truth is when we keep breaking the promises that we make to ourselves there is an impact. We begin not to trust ourselves, we even start to say things like, “I will start exercising more tomorrow”, followed by a “Yeah, right, like that’s going to happen”. We get to the point where we recognize that we do not keep promises to ourselves. We ultimately do not trust ourselves, how sad is that?

If it was anyone other than yourself, how long would you put up with this type of behavior, how long would you put up with a string of broken promises? The answer is easy, not very long!

Another big reason we fail to keep promise we make to ourselves is that the promises are too vauge. We may promise ourselves to lose some weight. Good promise to make, however it lacks specifics, which means that we can fool ourselves for a long time. The promises we make to ourselves should be very specific, an example would be, “I promise that I will begin exercising starting tomorrow, I will walk for a half hour ever other day and I will ride my bike for a hour every other night. I will continue to do this until the weather changes at which time I will change my exercise routines. The goal of this exercise is to reduce my blood pressure and to lose 20 pounds by September 30th”. See the difference, see how your mind will recognize the difference? When you make your promise specific and measurable, it is more tangible, it is harder to deceive yourself and break the promise that you make to yourself.

I want you to take a sheet of paper out and write out 5 promises which you know you have made to yourself that you have broken. Have the list? Now think about how many times you have broken each of these promises. Scary isn’t it? Now take each promise and ask yourself, is this still a valid promises? In other words, do I still need to follow through with this promise? Eliminate those promises that are no longer valid from your list.

Now you have a list of valid promises that you must keep to yourself. Now, look at each promise and ask yourself, is the promise specific and measurable? If a promise is not specific and measurable, then rewrite the promise to make it something that is tangible, something that is specific and measurable.

What you now have is a great tool which will help you to keep your promises to yourself. I also suggest that you write each promise on a colored index card and place it someplace where you can see it often. This will serve a reminder to keep the commitment which you have made to yourself.

Remember, you are as important and valuable as the other people you make promises to, you deserve the same integrity and commitment that your give to others!