People are good at making goals, New Year’s resolutions, dream lists and plans. But there’s a fundamental problem with them. They leave room for interpretation, revision and even delay. Where’s the accountability? So I gave it some thought, and I’ve decided never to make “goals” again. OK don’t be alarmed. I know I’ve told you in the past that goal setting is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your success. But I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do that any more.

You see, people set out to achieve their goals and genuinely have good intentions. But often life, work, circumstances, family, health, and a host of other things often get in the way. Goals are flexible in people’s minds and we’re often inclined to postpone them or disregard them altogether. We’ll say “well I couldn’t do that today, so I’ll get to it tomorrow”. Or “my money is short this week, let me put this training/course/coaching/conference off until next month, or maybe next year when I’m ready”. The intentions are there, but some times the execution and implementation are off. And we rationalize why we couldn’t meet the goal to try to excuse ourselves or make us feel better when we don’t meet them.

Here’s what I propose. Instead of making goals or resolutions, we should make promises. Yes, make a series of promises to yourself. You see when we make promises, we are held accountable. When you make a promise to your child, you move heaven and earth to make it happen so he or she isn’t disappointed in you. When you promise to get a task done on time at work, you do what needs to be done to get the job done so your boss isn’t disappointed in you. So why not make promises to yourself? Think about it. Some of the mot successful people are successful because of the promises they make to themselves. “I promise I will never be poor again”. “I promise myself I will move up within my company”. “I promise I will start my own business”. Making a promise to yourself is much more effective than setting a goal. Goals are fine, but promise yourself success. There’s something psychological about a promise. It means you WILL get something done. There is no postponing or forgetting. You will make it happen by any means necessary. Think about how you feel when others make promises to you that they don’t keep. It isn’t so nice. Well can you live with breaking a promise to yourself?

The next time you sit down to write your goals, rephrase them into a series of promises you make to yourself to guarantee your professional success. And to give them extra added incentive, assign time lines to those promises, then fulfill those promises to yourself as if you were your child, boss, spouse, parent, etc. What “promises” have you committed to make to yourself? Please share!

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

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