Keeping the Promises You Make To Yourself
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“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes
Today I'm writing about confidence, the polar opposite of desperation and wise older sibling to cockiness. If you close your eyes right now, I'm sure you can picture someone you know who is cocky and doesn't that just irk you? Confidence is something to be earned while cockiness is a symptom. One is showy, the other is self-assured. One is overstated and inauthentic and the other is poised.
I believe that the best way to increase confidence is to consistently keep the promises you make to yourself. You can't grow self-assured about anything until you have proven your own competency to yourself, and you can't grow competent until you show up.
I've known many people who make promises they never keep. Whether it's a friend making a plan they never intend to follow through on, a business not returning your phone call, or a workplace not fulfilling their end of a compensation plan, we all know what it's like to encounter flakey, inconsistent people. You probably don't like or respect them very much, right? It's hard to trust someone who doesn't show that they're trustworthy, which is why confidence comes from trusting yourself. When I was in school, I got straight A's, and not because I was that smart. I studied hard and told myself that I would do the absolute best that I could. Once I understood that I could achieve straight A's, that was the standard I held myself to. Once I knew what I was capable of, anything less was unacceptable. It's important to point out that nobody else would have been disappointed with a B. Nobody can ever be as disappointed with me as I can be because nobody else cares as much. If you let other people dictate what success means, you'll always end up disappointed.
When I'm training for a race (my next race is the Kodiak 100, in Big Bear, CA), I have to put in a lot of miles and a fair amount of time in the gym. Some mornings, the last thing I want to do is wake up and go for a run, and hit the snooze button more than once. Some days, I don't feel the least bit inspired to train, but I do anyway. I don't know much but I do know that putting in consistent work is one of the best ways to see positive results. You'll beat out many people simply by not quitting, by paying attention, and adjusting when things don't quite work.
The worst thing you can do though, is bite off more than you can chew. Start with something small, even if it's setting an alarm earlier than you're used to (and not hitting snooze). Your promise to yourself could be as small as making your bed every morning to something as large as reaching out to five new people every day to build a business.
Stephanie Barros from Igniting Your Spark outlines the following ways to keep the promises you make to you:
1. Make reasonable promises to yourself.
If you've fallen short of a particular goal in the past, adjust it to make it more manageable, then build from there.
2. Put your promises on paper.
Thoughts aren't solid, and they're easier to ignore than something you've written down and look at every day. Nothing is as solid as words on a page.
3. Do you mean it?
The reason many promises fall through is that we never meant them in the first place. I personally don't see the point in making a promise you don't intend to keep, so be brutally honest with yourself about whether or not you plan to even try to keep them.
4. Change how you think about you.
It seems universally true that we're nicer to others than we are to ourselves, and we're more afraid to let others down than we are to let ourselves down. It should be just as unacceptable to let yourself down as it is to let down other people.
5. Accept discomfort.
Change is uncomfortable, no matter how big or small, and keeping the promises you make to yourself might seem uncomfortable, too. Nobody ever succeeded by sitting quietly in their comfort, after all.