Don’t Make Resolutions, Make Promises!

It’s getting to be that time of year when we especially take stock and think of changing. That makes me happy, but please don’t just make resolutions. Why? Resolutions are the reason the gym is so crowded on January 2nd, but also pretty empty by January 15th. Resolutions have within them the suggestion of an “if” clause: “I’ll do this new habit, IF my inspiration stays.” Inevitably, without help, inspiration usually dies and then you’re back at square one.

I understand, it’s great, in many ways, to get resolved. Resolutions imply insight and desire, not finality or results, but the whole reason you make resolutions is to get results! So, resolution is good in that it precedes a possible promise, but I want you to be a “closer.” To be a closer, you have to promise something and then do it. This seems simple, but promises are revolutionary.

Can you hear how different promises are from resolutions? You make a resolution out of hope, while you’re cheating on your diet, your partner, your work deadline. Your resolution is sincere, but theoretical. You make it to yourself (or maybe your drunken friends at New Year’s?) It sounds like this: “I’ll be nicer,” or “I won’t blow XYZ again,” or “I won’t eat ice cream.” There is an undertone of “this time I’ll be good.”

I am suggesting a different tone. One that is less “morality based” (“I’m being good” or “I’m being bad”) and a little more power based. One that sounds like: “I am the author of my life.” The Handel Method® teaches conscious design of your life and the main tool we use is promises. Promises are different from resolutions because:

1) They are a clear commitment.
2) They are very specific, exactly what you will do or not do. (“I’ll go to the gym more” becomes “I’ll jog three times a week for 30 minutes.”)
3) They are public.
4) There are consequences (that you design creatively with your coach) if you don’t keep them.

Let’s break that down.

Why clear and specific? The brat that lives in your mind and makes so many decisions for you really hates specificity. It likes wiggle room and loves to negotiate (like a child). Making a promise that is clear and specific shuts up the brat. I find it a great relief to make a specific promise because then my mind instantly starts noodling on the question of how I will fulfill it. I then start negotiating FOR the thing I am committed to rather than for how to get out of it. You have a lot of brainpower and a lot of it is wasted on negotiating getting out of, rather than keeping, your most heartfelt commitments (to excellence at work, intimacy with a partner, deep self love of your body) My promises streamline my mental focus and they will for you, too.

Why public? I think it’s obvious the brilliance of going public with your promises. The brat hates accountability, as does your inner “chicken.” Often our friends let us get away with “murder” because then we’ll let them get away with murder. Let’s stop the murdering and give and receive the gift of promises with our friends and family this year at the holidays! Once you go public, not only will you be more likely to keep your promise, but you will inspire those around you to fight for their dreams, too.

Consequences, huh? Consequences are the final stand against the brat and the chicken. They up the ante and help you restore integrity when you make a “bad” (non-dream) choice or let the chicken or brat win. Natural consequences usually come too slowly, hence people so often only change once they reach a crisis point, (think smoking and cancer). Designing perfect consequences for you that are essentially immediate gives you the deterrent you wish you had. For example: if I pick my pimples, I do 100 pushups that day; if I am late for dinner, I have to throw $20 out the window; if I am mean to a co-worker, I have to write them a poem that week. Good consequences organize your brain around solving your problems and making your dreams come true. Without them, your thinking is organized around excusing yourself.

In conclusion, don’t get away with mere resolutions again! Don’t even make non-specific promises. To be a “closer” and get your results, make really specific promises and tell everyone. You have no idea how powerful this will be, plus you can start today. You don’t even have to wait until New Year’s. Beat the rush!

Obviously, a great place to go public about your new promises is here on this blog. Leave your comment below and let the community support your greatness, not your sell out!

Love,
Laurie

P.S.- Join us for our teleseminar on Wednesday, Dec 14, End Your Year with A Bang!It’s the best way to wrap up what was and create what will be in 2012. Come learn how to author YOUR life in the new year and in the now! (If you register and cannot attend live, you will be sent a link to the recording.)

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Laurie Gerber is President of Handel Group™ Life Coaching, an international coaching company, which specializes in teaching individuals to take focused and powerful action in every area of their lives. You can connect with Laurie on Facebook at HG Life Coaching.

  • Meka55

    Just what I needed to hear as I prepare to take on some big tasks in 2012.

  • Doumont

    Funny how this came up. Yesterday I was thinking how can I make a better approach to the things I want out of next/ for the future! Thank you!!

  • Elora

    I promise to do my work on time and I will decline one social invitation each time that I miss a deadline.

  • Tsanborn

    I promise to not talk about people just for today (Babysteps!).  My consequence is I have to give my daughter 5$ each time I do.  

  • Susanne D

    Thanks for the inspiration. I finally got around to write the post about my seven promises for 2012

    http://ctbm.net/2011/12/18/promises-for-2012/

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