Do you remember when you were a child and had a promise broken? How did that make you feel?
Well, let me share one incident that is still, 38 years later, as vivid in my memory as though it happened yesterday.
At age 10 (Grade 5), when I lived in a small town in Kenya, I wanted a bicycle, one that I could eventually ride to school. Looking back, I am sure it had a lot to do with independence, being able to go see my friends, and having my own possession. Rite of passage I suppose!
My parents, who were not well off, promised me I could have one, if I saved up for one (from my pocket allowance) and that they would match my savings once I reached the half way mark. In other words, a 50/50 split.
So for almost two years, I was very frugal, and saved hard. I REALLY wanted that shiny new red bicycle. As I got very close to my goal, I even hit up my younger sister for a loan so that I could get to my goal quicker! She kindly agreed.
When I finally reached my goal, I went to the bicycle store, reconfirmed the price (for the 10th time), and then proudly told my Dad that I had saved up my 50% of the cost.
He congratulated me, but pointed out that the family was going through a tough time financially, and that I would have to wait a bit (which to a child seems like eternity!) before he could contribute his 50%.
I was crushed at this broken promise. I had saved so hard and was so keen to have the bike . . .!
So I waited, and waited, and waited, and an interminable three months later, he was able to keep his promise – and I was the proud new owner of a shiny blue bicycle (the red one had been sold in the meantime)! I was happier than a clam when that promise was finally kept, and rode that bicycle for many years through high school, even launching my first entrepreneurial venture using my bicycle.
In the grand scheme of things, this was a small incident. But to me at the time, that broken promise made me feel like my world was caving in.
So have you ever made a promise to yourself, your family or the world? What does it feel like to break a promise or to have one broken? Terrible, I am sure.
What does it feel like to keep a promise, or to have it kept when it is made to you? Terrific, I am sure.
Now how can you use this to help you achieve your goals? Stop setting goals and writing To Do lists! Instead start making and then keeping promises to yourself, your family or the world.
Why a PROMISE as opposed to a GOAL?
A promise is more personal than a goal. If you make a promise to yourself then you will want to achieve something. It is like a non-negotiable pact and you will be much more hesitant to break it.
Also, a promise is more emotional and we are more driven by our emotions than we would like to admit, so why not use that fact to our advantage?
For example, if someone really wants you to attend an event that is important to them, they might say, “Do you promise to be there?” They would not say, “Did you put this event on your To Do list?”
See the difference?
Later in my personal life I hit rock bottom emotionally and physically. I was in so much pain that I could not walk to the end of the driveway. As I searched for a way out of that place I started thinking about that episode and how important that promise was to me. I then looked at all the un-kept promises I had made to myself, my family and the world over the years and examined how that made me feel.
I asked myself these questions and encourage you to do the same:
~ Have you made a promise to make a substantial difference in the world, or have you given up trying?
~ Most importantly, are you consistently achieving your goals by keeping the promises you made to yourself throughout your life? To stay healthy and fit; to have strong relationships; to make progress in your career or business; to attend to your spirituality; to live a simpler life?
The good news is that it is possible to transform your life and keep all your promises no matter what your age, health and financial situation.
You just need to change how you think about them.
Won’t join me on this journey to a world free of broken promises?
To learn more about keeping promises, please contact us for a discussion.