“We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what he cannot” Abraham Lincoln
Remember the last time you made yourself a promise you didn’t keep? How did that feel? Did it niggle at you? Did it sap your energy? Leave you feeling depleted? Here are 8 reasons why you should lie up to the promises you make.
1. Unfulfilled promises leave open loops
When you make a promise to yourself and you don’t keep it, a part of you is painfully aware that it’s unfulfilled. It registers as an open loop in the back of your mind. And that part niggles at you. On a deep subsonscious level it eats away at you. Dealing with feelings saps your energy.
Why? Because promises made to yourself come with a certain emotional attachement. An attachement which leads to unpleasant consequences when unfulfilled. You feel discomfort, guilt, a sense of uneasiness. And these feelings make it less likely that you’ll keep your next promise. This leads to a vicious cycle of broken promises. And we all know how much that affects your ability to suceed.
The solution? Don’t make commitments to yourself that you’re not sure you will be able to fulfill. Be selective about promises you make. Only make promises that you know you can follow through on.
2. Fulfilled promises are great for motivation and success
Broken promises can lead to a vicious cycle of failure. But the reverse is also true. A fulfilled promise builds a sense of self efficacy which is one of the greatest motivators. Think back to a time you made a promise you would get something done by a certain date and you followed through on it.Advertising
How’d it feel? Pretty good I bet. It works both ways. When you make a commitment to yourself and fulfill that commitment, it builds a sense of self-esteem. A sense of self efficacy. So how do you use this information to increase your chances of succcess?
The next time you make a committment, set aside time for completing the task in your calendar. This will force you to be realistic about what you can achieve in light of all your other committments. This is a very effective way to be realistic about what you can take on. Stick to this one rule and you’ll go a long way towards building a virtuous cycle that feeds success.
3. Broken promises impact you as much as the person you make the promise to.
We’re are social creatures. When you make a commitment to someone and don’t keep it, there’s a distinct feeling of having let that person down. You know the feeling I’m talking about. It’s like there’s this pact you made with that person which you broke. Not cool.
A trail of unfulfiled promises to others leaves you feeling as disappointed in yourself as it does the other person. Break a promise to someone else and you’ll be left with this lingering feeling of dissatisfaction. You may not realise it consciously but on some level you’ll question your own integrity. It’ll impact your self belief and your chances of long term success.
Just being aware of this fact is enough stop you from making a promise to someone that you aren’t likely to keep. You’ll sleep better and feel lighter.
4. Living up to every single promise builds trust in yourself
When someone breaks a promise to you how does that impact your level of trust in them? You trust them less right? The same goes for promises you make yourself. When you don’t fulfill those promises, you lose faith in yourself and your ability to succeed at achieving your goals.Advertising
So, how do you keep every single promise you make yourself? Use a minimalistic approach to promises. Treat them like sliver bullets. Say a thousand nos for every yes. If I’m starting to sound a bit repetitive then that’s good. It means you’ve been paying attention. I don’t think the point about being selective when making committments can be emphasised enough.
Choose your committments carefully. This will determine how you’re going to spend your time. Commit to fewer things that you know you can accomplish and that will have maximum impact. This will help you build faith in your own abilities like nothing else!
5. Living up to every promise teaches you to apply the Pareto principle
Ever heard of the Pareto principle? The Pareto principle states that approximately 20% of the reference yields 80% of the results. It makes sense to focus on that 20%. And the best way to focus only on the 20% is saying no to everything else that you believe doesn’t fall into that 20%. You could even take this one step further and apply the Pareto principle to the 20% implying that 4% of your efforts will yield 64% of your results.
The best way to do get good at applying the Pareto principle is through practice. A good way to do this to keep a daily journal. At the end of each day think back to the things you focused on and which of those things delivered the biggest results. Get clear on what’s working for you and make a conscious committment to focus on those things the next day. This ritual works well when done at the end of each month too.
6. Keeping your promises helps you to find a peaceful balance
Staying committed to delivering on your promises imposes certain discipline in your life. It helps you to embrace minimalism and when it comes to activities that you take on. Hopefully this will extend to a minimalistic attitude when it comes to possessions too.
Here’s the plain truth: the less stuff (read “noise”) you have whirling around in your head, the more peaceful and balanced you’re going to feel. Try it. Try focusing on only one thing at a time. Refuse to give into the urge to multitask which is not only unproductive but overwhelming.Advertising
Try getting rid of all those clothes you haven’t used in a year. Or try throwing away some of that junk that’s been collecting in your garage. Do this for a week and I can assure you that you’ll be feeling a lot lighter at the end of it.
7. Fulfilling promises keeps you on track to achieve your life goals.
It’s easy to keep a promise when you’re feeling motivated. But keeping a promise when you don’t feel like it? That’s a lot harder. So why do it? Because your feelings are as stable as a leaf in a thunderstorm! Don’t get me wrong. Feelings are important and they definitely shouldn’t be ignored. But that doesen’t mean you react to them everytime they pop up.
Feelings are transient. Being reactive to your feelings (as opposed to watching them mindfully), doesn’t serve you or your long term success. Using a mindful approach where you watch your feelings without reacting to them, makes you far more likely to keep your promises regardless of how you feel. And that’s where the power is!
When you keep promises to yourself no matter what, you’re playing to the orchestra of life. You’re working within the parameters of a disciplined routine – much like each musical instrument must play in tune for the orchestra to work. Every instrument must fulfil its purpose.
So the next time you feel the urge to run from a committment you’ve made, think to yourself that this is just a feeling. You don’t have to react to your urge to run from the task. Instead accept that you have the urge to run and go ahead and complete the task anyway. I guarantee you’ll feel better after you’ve completed it.
8. A string of unfulfilled promises can damage your self-esteem
Unfulfilled promises create an emotional reaction of shame and embarrassment of disappointment. Do this over and over again, and you’ll put your self-esteem on the line.Advertising
The solution? You guessed it! Be selective about promises you make so you can live up to your word. Use your word to generate trust in other’s and in yourself. I’m not saying it’s always easy. Fulfilling promises can sometimes be very challenging but that’s what builds your sense of integrity and your self-esteem.
Your word is your legacy. Ultimately when you’ve done your dash on planet earth, and you’re approaching the end of your life, what do you think is going to matter most? Your bank account? Your possessions? Or the relationships you’ve built and the impact you’ve had on the world?
Money and possessions make life a lot more comfortable. But in the final reckoning, the quality of the relationships we’ve cultivated and the difference we’ve made to the world are going to matter most. What’s it going to be for you?
Featured photo credit: Christian Ditaputratama via flic.kr
Last Updated on January 2, 2019
Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress
The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.
It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.
To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.
So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.
1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts
We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.
Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:
Stop focusing on the material objects
Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.
Plan gifts in advance
We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.
Suggest a better way
If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.
Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts
You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.
Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.
2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions
It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.
If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.
How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?
Here’s what you can do:
Set a healthier pattern
For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.
Get a fitness watch
Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Find a physical activity that you enjoy
Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.
Try intermittent fasting
This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.
Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead
You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!
3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List
In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.
But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?
These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:
Leave bigger intervals between meetings
If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.
Plan time to relax
As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.
Try to be a little pessimistic
We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.
Try waking up earlier
Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.
Plan your day the day before
Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.
Designate a time for checking emails and social messages
If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.
4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits
If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.
Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:
Binge-watching TV series
Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.
You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.
Running on coffee
Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.
As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.
Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.
Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.
If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.
Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.
5. Stop over-consuming
We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.
Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
- Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
- Can I rent it?
- Can I make it myself?
- Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?
For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?
Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.
6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone
Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.
But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?
Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:
Spend only a limited amount of battery per day
For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.
Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer
Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.
Set your phone on flight mode
When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.
Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch
You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.
The Bottom Line
As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.
But this year, promise yourself this:
Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.
Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.
Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com
|||^||Everyday How To: How to Prepare a Meaningful Gift for Your Partner|
|||^||Medical News Today: Caffeine: how does it affect our health?|
|||^||freedom matters: How Blocking Apps for a Month Improved My Mood and Productivity|