It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me
How to keep the most important promise of all: the one you make to yourself
I have a confession: I break my promises.
But not the ones to my clients, peers, or partners.
To them, I’m a person true to her word.
As I’ve written about before, I’m someone who can be counted on for her consistency. And I take great pride in that because it demonstrates my integrity and reliability, which are non-negotiables in business.
As anyone who’s ever been disappointed by someone who didn’t deliver can tell you, not everyone walks the talk.
So who is this mystery person whose promises am I breaking?
It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me. 👋
And it’s one promise in particular.
For years, I’ve told myself I’d finish writing the psychological thriller I started in 2019.
But earlier this week, I gathered again with an amazing group of old and new friends at the No Longer Virtual conference. Many attendees knew of this aspirational dream because I had casually mentioned it at our annual gathering for the last several years.
And not surprisingly, they were curious about its status:
“So, how’s the novel coming along, Amy?”
“Did you publish it? “
“Did I miss it?”
It’s still there, not yet, and nope.
Even though writing a novel is important to me, I felt crappy because I let this dream get pushed to the back burner and failed to keep myself accountable.
How could someone who’s so good at keeping her word to others have such an epic personal fail?
Maybe you can relate?
Hard truth alert: Even those who have earned a reputation of reliability with others may find themselves failing to keep the most important promises of all: the ones they make to themselves.
Here’s how to keep the promises you make to yourself (and yes, I’m paying attention):
Make sure they’re what you really want
Before you can keep promises to yourself, you have to confirm that they’re still relevant and meaningful to you. Having clarity about what matters most to you is a great place to start. It’s okay to have different goals today than you did five years ago (or even last year), but if you have a dream that persists, that nags at your psyche and begs to be acknowledged, it’s worthwhile to note.
Be honest about why you’ve let things slide
It’s easy to blame external forces for your inability to act, but what prevents your progress is internal. Fear—of failure, success, and what others may say or think about you—or believing you’re not worthy of such a lofty ambition can hold you back from keeping the promises you make to yourself.
When you’re honest about why you’ve let things slide and acknowledge your fears, you lessen their power and remove a barrier to success.
Prioritize and schedule time for them
It sounds simple, but it’s worth repeating: if you want to keep the promises you make to yourself, you must make time for them. Prioritize and carve out non-negotiable space every day to work on your goals, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Protect this time by scheduling your calendar sessions to keep promises front and center and before anything else.
Tell another human being
It’s one thing to write something down in a private journal or tape it to your office wall where only you will see it; speaking your intentions out loud to another person is quite another. (Or like 25 people, as I recently did at the No Longer Virtual Conference!) Will this make you feel vulnerable? Probably. But sharing your goals with someone and acknowledging their existence will make them real—and help you stick to them. You can even ask the person with whom you shared your promise to act as your accountability partner, regularly checking in with you on your progress.
Break it down into smaller chunks
Keeping a promise to yourself usually involves more than a single bold, sweeping gesture; it’s typically a series of things that lead you to success. I love dreaming big and thinking about what’s possible, but when it comes to executing, it’s the small actions, done consistently, that matter most.
Track your progress and celebrate the small wins
No matter how small, any step forward helps you move closer to your goal of keeping the promises you made to yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae and forget to pause and reflect on your accomplishments. Logging your progress helps remind you how far you’ve come and what’s left to do. As a bonus, the next time you’re feeling a bit defeated, refer back to your notes to give you a much-needed boost of motivation and encouragement.
And speaking of encouragement…
Are you a “glass half-empty” or “glass half-full” kind of person?
Surprisingly, just a single word can make a massive difference in positively changing your perspective.
And in my latest Forbes article, I share four ways how.
One word that can make or break a career?
The difference between a mediocre career and a successful one often comes down to the ability to overcome it.
ICYMI, in my recent Forbes article, I shared the three best ways how.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or admitting I’m the problem, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders craft their stories to communicate and connect better, magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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*My debut novel is a modern-day psychological thriller that incorporates all my favorite topics: communication, connection, psychology and human behavior, emotional intelligence, transformation, creativity, and innovation.
Now that I’ve spilled the beans, are you curious about my book and what it takes for a novel to go from an idea to a published manuscript?
Insightful as always, Amy! 💡
And I completely agree! The most important promise of all is the one you make to yourself! 🤗