Free yourself from the world’s negativity – from the sources of ignorance telling you what you can and cannot do – by promising to look ahead, to live ahead and to get ahead. In other words, start making positive promises to yourself!
- “I will not hold the past against myself.” Your problems, your weaknesses, setbacks, regrets and mistakes teach you if you’re willing to learn, or they will punish you if you’re not. So let them teach you, every day. Take everything as a lesson learned. If you regret some of the decisions you have made in the past, stop being so hard on yourself. At that time, you did your best with the knowledge you had. At that time, you did your best with the experience you had. Your decisions were made with a younger mind. If you were to make these decisions with the wisdom you have today, you would choose differently. So give yourself a break. Time and experience has a wonderful way of helping us grow and learn to make better choices today, for ourselves and those we care for.
- “I will own my life and never deny responsibility for it.” – Through the grapevine, you may have learned that you should blame your parents, your teachers, your mentors, the education system, the government, etc., but never to blame yourself. Right? It’s never, ever your fault… WRONG! It’s always your fault, because if you want to change, if you want to let go and move on with your life, you’re the only person who can make it happen. It’s YOUR move to make. It’s YOUR responsibility. Own it!
- “I will speak kindly and consciously to myself.” – Wait, what did you just say to yourself? Were they the inspiring, encouraging words you would speak to a friend? Or were they the belittling remarks you might shout to an enemy if you had no heart. Or the negative assessments about life you would utter if you had no faith? All day long we speak silently to ourselves, and a part of us believes every word. So stay mindful, and ask yourself, “If I had a friend who always spoke to me in the same way that I am speaking to myself right now, how long would I allow that person to be my friend?” (Read Loving What Is.)
- “I will listen to what my heart and soul is telling me.” – When something feels right, that means it is right for you (at least it is worth looking into). And if you genuinely feel deep down that something is wrong, it probably is. Pay attention to your authentic feelings, and follow where they lead. When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.
- “I will live a life that feels right to me, not one that looks right to others.” – Give yourself permission to follow the path that makes YOU happy. And realize that some people in your life will refuse to walk beside you as you embark on this journey; they simply won’t approve no matter what you say, and that’s OK. Sometimes when you commit yourself to creating your own happiness, it clashes with the perceptions of others. Sometimes when you gain something great, you have to let go of something else. And sometimes this ‘something else’ is a relationship that only wants you to do what they want you to do.
- “I will let go of relationships that are obviously not meant to be.” – Most people come into your life temporarily simply to teach you something. They come and they go and they make a difference. And it’s OK that they’re not in your life anymore. Not all relationships last, but the lessons these relationships bring to you do. If you learn to open your heart and mind, anyone, including the folks who eventually drive you mad, can teach you something worthwhile. Sometimes it will feel weird when you realize you spent so much time with someone you are no longer connected to, but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. We all are. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- “I will not let any situation permanently steal my smile.” – Even when times are tough, take a moment to pause and remember who YOU are. Take a moment to reflect on the things that have real and lasting meaning in your life. And then smile about how far you’ve come. Honestly, nothing in this world is more beautiful and powerful than a smile that has struggled through the tears. Any fool can be happy when times are easy. It takes a strong soul with real heart to develop smiles out of situations that make us weep. No matter how long it takes, it will get better. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.
- “I will celebrate and appreciate the life I have.” – Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. Don’t be one of them. Take a breath of fresh air. The past is behind you. Focus on what you can do today, not on what you could’ve or should’ve done yesterday. Remember, for everything you’ve lost, you’ve gained something else. Appreciate what you have and who you are today. Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. Count your blessings, not your troubles. It costs nothing to be positive, and it changes things for the better. Your thoughts are yours to control, so make good use of them to give your actions and your life a powerful advantage.
- “I will realize and use my power to make a difference.” – The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. Don’t do this. The world needs you. In a world filled with doubt, you must dare to dream. In a world filled with anger, you must dare to forgive. In a world filled with hate, you must dare to love. In a world filled with distrust, you must dare to believe. And once you do, I promise, you will find that power you once thought you lacked.
- “I will dedicate myself to personal excellence.” – Anything worth doing, is worth doing right. And excellence is never an accident. It’s the result of high intention, focused effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities. It’s also important to note that excellence cannot be judged by looking at where you are at any given point in time, but by measuring the distance you have traveled from the point where you started. It’s about being diligent and making progress – either a step forward or a lesson learned – day in and day out. (Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
- “I will keep stretching myself beyond my previous level of comfort.” – Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Know this! When you’re struggling, that’s when you’re growing stronger and smarter. The more time you spend there, the faster you learn. It’s better to spend an extremely high quality ten minutes growing, than it is to spend a mediocre hour running in place. Every day, you want to practice at the point where you are on the edge of your ability, stretching yourself over and over again, making mistakes, stumbling, learning from those mistakes and stretching yourself even farther.
- “I will embrace the changes I know I need to make.” – Life is a balancing act of holding on and letting go – of staying put and moving on. We strive to make the right choices, but how do we know when it is truly time to move forward with our lives? The signs aren’t always easy to accept, but they are there and you know it. Relationships, jobs, and even the cities we live in have expiration dates. Sometimes we hold on to what’s not working out of fear that we won’t be able to adapt to necessary changes. And thus, the outcome is always the same: more pain, immense frustration, and lasting regret. Be smarter than that. Embrace the changes you know you need to make.
Words can be twisted into any shape, so you must be careful not to be careless. Remember this when you make promises to yourself. Your promises must be backed by devoted action.