How to Keep Promises to Yourself

The new year feeds my need to make lists. I like lists. Just making a list helps me feel productive.

Like most people, when a new year rolls around I like to make lists of the things I plan to change about myself, or lists of goals, or lists of all the things I didn’t get done last year but I will get done this year.

Lists. I love them.

I am trying real hard not to make a list.

Just think of the kinds of lists we could have here!

  1. Four steps to losing weight this year.
  2. Five keys to faithful living.
  3. Seven good habits, four bad habits.
  4. Three building blocks to success.

Oh, there you have it! I made a list of possible lists!

Seriously, I would hope that in the coming year you will be able to keep the promises that you make to yourself.

Let us take a moment and think of three main areas of our lives where we need to think about making promises to ourselves.

1. Make a promise to live and eat healthier. Rather than making an unrealistic promise dependent upon losing a specific amount of weight, make a promise with a goal to be healthier. Get more exercise and eat better food.

If your main exercise is walking from the frig to couch, then do not start training for a half-marathon. Start walking around the block every day. Then jog around the block. Then jog twice around the block.

Find something you enjoy doing and start small. Do more when you feel better.

A couple of years ago I read a book called In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan and it changed the way I think about food. He summarizes his book this way: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

My suggestion to eating healthy is very simple. If it is in a box do not eat it. Instead, only eat things you prepare with your own hands. You will not snack as much, you will not eat as much, and you will eat better. Try it.

2. Make a promise to build better relationships. If you are unsatisfied in any of your relationships then you did not reach that dissatisfaction overnight. You can improve the relationship, but it will take time. You have the whole year.

Look at your relationships and find ways to invest yourself. Do an act of kindness for that person. Listen. Stop what you are doing and do what the other person is doing.

If necessary, apologize and change your behavior or ask for help to change your behavior.

Strong relationships come from simple promises kept every day.

3. Make a promise to improve your spiritual life. My understanding of who I am before God has become more simple and more complex as the years have passed.

It is more simple in that I have accepted my humanity and the truth that I will make selfish choices. It is more complex in that I understand the wideness and depth of God’s grace in my life.

Wherever you are with God, take small steps to improve your spiritual life. Look at the choices you make. Are they selfish? Can you give more of yourself away to others?

A healthy spiritual life begins by giving yourself away to others. Read scripture. Pray. Listen. Give. Be amazed.

Well, I made a list after all! It is short, though, just three items. Be healthy. Build relationships. Improve spiritually. These are three great areas in your life to make promises.

Are these promises you can keep to yourself this year?