12 Promises You Should Make to Yourself and Keep Forever

by Marc and Angel Chernoff –
When you become your own best friend, life is easier.

Life is not all rainbows and butterflies.  It can be tough sometimes.  And you’ve paid a heavy price to get this far, so the best option is to really make it count by moving forward from where you are.

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!

Promise to fight back, to fight harder, to laugh louder and longer and slap adversity back into its seat whenever it dares to stand against you.  Promise to be a force to be reckoned with – because you are a force to be reckoned with.

Make these promises to yourself and keep them forever.
Repeat after me: “I promise…”
  1. “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.
  2. “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!
  3. “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.)
  4. “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.
  5. “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.
  6. “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.)
  7. “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.
  8. “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.
  9. “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.
  10. “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.)
  11. “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.
  12. “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.

Afterthoughts

In a world where vows are often left unfulfilled – where making a pledge means less than it used to – where promises seem like they’re made to be broken – it would be nice to see words come back into power, wouldn’t it?

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.

The image you have of yourself in the future depends on the actions you watch yourself take today. Promise yourself and then prove it!

The floor is yours…

Which of the points above resonate with you the most?  What promises do you want (or need) to make to yourself?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

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10 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

by Marc and Angel Chernoff and Mark Manson –

At the end of the day, the questions we ask ourselves determine the type of people we become.

When you’ve been running a successful personal development blog and life coaching business for the better part of a decade, one thing becomes crystal clear: Everyone has the same basic wants and needs.
Over the years Angel and I have gotten to know thousands of people of different ethnic backgrounds, from different cities and countries, who live at various socioeconomic levels, and trust me, every one of us basically wants the same things.  We want validation, love, happiness, fulfillment, money, and hopes for a better future.  The way we pursue these needs is where things branch off, but the fundamentals are the same.
Think about it.  If I ask you, “Quickly, in one sentence, what do you want most out of life?” I bet your rushed response is going to be something like, “I want to be happy, and have a healthy family, and a career I like that pays well, etc.”  Your response is going to be so common and ubiquitous that it basically doesn’t even mean anything.  Which is precisely why senseless, happy-go-lucky questions like this aren’t very helpful.  And yet, this is precisely the kind of questions we often ask ourselves.
So what kind of questions might you ask instead?  Questions that force you into a corner.  Questions that help you embrace the sacrifices it takes to get where you want to go.  
Questions that motivate you to focus on the next step forward.  
  1. What is worth suffering for? – If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs.  If you want the six-pack abs, you have to want the sweat, the sore muscles, the early mornings at the gym, and the low carb meals.  If you want the successful business, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business deals and decisions, and the possibility of failing fifty times to learn what you need to know to succeed.  If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is just an idealization, a fantasy, and a false promise.  Maybe you don’t actually want it at all, because you’re not willing to suffer though the work it’s going to take to achieve it.
  2. Based on my daily routines and actions, where can I expect to be in five years? – This question just backs up the first one.  If you have an idea about what you want the next chapter of your life to look like, you have to DO things that support this idea every day.  An idea, after all, isn’t going to do anything for you until you do something productive with it.  In fact, as long as that great idea is just sitting around in your head it’s doing far more harm than good.  Your subconscious mind knows you’re procrastinating on something that’s important to you.  The necessary work that you keep postponing causes stress, anxiety, fear, and usually more procrastination – a vicious cycle that continues to worsen until you interrupt it with ACTION.  (Read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
  3. What do I need to spend more or less time doing going forward? – Most of us spend way too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.  In other words, productivity is not just about getting things done, it’s about getting the right things done.  At the end of each day, look at how you have spent your time, and adjust the allocation as necessary for tomorrow.  Do your best to get rid of your schedule’s complexities so you can spend more time on the things that matter.  This means fine-tuning and eliminating all but the essential tasks, so you are left with only the ones that add value to your life.  And above all, know when to set aside the important things for the vital things, like family.
  4. In service of what? – As Viktor Frankl so eloquently put it: “Don’t aim at success.  The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.  For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than one’s self.”  So think bigger.  Be a part of something greater than yourself.  This could be anything.  Some people take an active role in their local city council, some find refuge in their faith or family, some join social clubs supporting causes they resonate with, and others find passion in their careers.  In each case the psychological outcome is the same.  They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in.  This engagement brings happiness, success, and meaning into their lives.
  5. What am I pretending not to know? – Reality denied always comes back to haunt.  There are two ways to be fooled by your own subconscious.  One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.  Both are tragic forms of self-deception, because the person who lies to herself and listens to her own lies comes to a point that she cannot distinguish the truth within her, or around her, and so loses respect for herself and for others she cares about.  Don’t be this person.  All possibilities open up when we stop deceiving ourselves.
  6. What old rejections are still holding me back today? – All too often we let the rejections of our past dictate every move we make.  We literally do not know ourselves to be any better than what some opinionated person or narrow circumstance once told us was true.  Of course, an old rejection doesn’t mean we aren’t good enough; it just means some person or circumstance from our past failed to align with what we had to offer at the time.  It means we were graced with more time to improve our thing – to build upon our ideas, to perfect our craft, and indulge deeper in to the work that moves us.  Don’t let old rejections take up permanent residence in your head.  Kick them out on the street. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  7. What do I not want others to know about me? – This question cuts right to the heart of your insecurities.  Let it remind you that problems and flaws are a part of everyone’s life.  If you try to hide them, you don’t give the people in your life a chance to truly know you and love you.  And you allow small problems to escalate and dominate your self-confidence.  When you make a mistake, it might be irritating, but don’t bury it.  Be open about it, address it, and move on.  Our problems are really our blessings if we use them to grow stronger.  And, ultimately, the people who belong in your life will see your problems and flaws simply as signs that you are just as human as they are.
  8. Are the people around me helping me or hurting me? – A big part of who you become in life has to do with who you choose to surround yourself with.  And as you know, it is better to be alone than in bad company.  You simply cannot expect to live a positive, fulfilling life if you surround yourself with negative people.  Distancing yourself from these people is never easy, but it’s a lot harder when they happen to be close friends or family members.  As hard as it may be, it’s something you need to address.  To a certain degree, luck controls who walks into your life, especially as it relates to your family and childhood friends, but you decide who you spend the majority of your time with.
  9. How are my “shoulds” getting in the way of my “haves”? – The desires of our ego are often in conflict with the emotions of our heart.  Find your balance between planning and presence – between striving and appreciation.  Work hard, but don’t go looking for something better every second.  You must be willing to loosen your grip on the life you have planned so you can enjoy the life that is waiting for you in this moment.  It may not be everything you want for your future, but it’s everything you need right now.  Experience it and appreciate it.
  10. What is worth smiling about right now? – As Shawn Achor describes in his book The Happiness Advantage, a recent scientific study showed that doctors who are put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis consistently experience significant boosts to their intellectual abilities than doctors in a neutral state, which allows them to make accurate diagnoses almost 20% faster.  The same study then shifted to other vocations and found that optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by over 50%.  Students primed to feel happy before taking math tests substantially outperform their neutral peers.  So it turns out that our minds are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative, or even neutral, but when they are positive.

Your turn…

At any given moment, life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek these answers that continues to give our lives meaning.  Honestly, you can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led down a road strewn with trouble and confusion or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it and step forward.
So with that said, which of the questions above hit home the most?  Why?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
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