On Promises - Making Them, Breaking Them and Keeping Them

Part 2 in a three part series, On Promises - Making Them, Breaking Them and Keeping Them - see Part 2 here and Part 3 here!

I make a lot of promises to myself that I don’t keep.

I promised I wouldn’t let Vivi watch TV until after age 2, but we started at 18 months [in my defense, it was PBS and we had 3-day-old dishes in the sink].

I promised myself that I wouldn’t rack up any more library fines because seriously, that’s just wasted change. But right now there are 4-day over-due books sitting on Vivi’s floor.

I promised that I would keep a food journal daily. No restrictions, just a journal. Guess how long it lasted? TWO days.

I promised I would write 2 pages a day, everyday. Nope, just lasted three days.

I promised I wouldn’t make choices that make me feel overbooked and overwhelmed time and time again. BAHAHAHA.

It’s not that I don’t want to do these things or that I don’t care. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t bother making them in the first place. I do want to succeed in all these areas, but for one reason or another, I do not.


In my absolutely uncertified, nonprofessional, sheerly-based-on-my-own-perspective-and-experiences opinion, promises to one’s self are broken for three reasons [maybe there are more, but these are the three categories mine tend to fall into]

1. You’ve decided that the promise wasn’t consequential enough to be maintained

Some promises seem like a bigger deal when they’re made, but once life gets rolling, you realize the triviality of it. You’ve reorganized your priorities in life for whatever reason and this promise didn’t make the cut. This is what happened in the case of Vivi and the TV and the library fines. I mean, really? The thing with the library fines is that even after 10 days, I still only racked up 2 dollars worth. That’s just not worth the stress.

What to do if you’ve broken a promise for this reason?

Let it go - the promise that is. You made the decision that it’s not worth the fight and that’s totally OKAY. Promises are allowed to change just as we are allowed to grow and change. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

2. It’s not the right time

Sometimes we promise ourselves that we’ll walk on the moon, when in all reality at that time, we only have the capability to walk the block. Maybe it’s not the right time to walk on the moon - plain and simple. Maybe next week would be better. Or next year. Or twenty years from now. Who knows? Our promises need to be attainable for the stage in our lives we’re living if we want to maintain them [I’m looking at you food journal and writing 2 pages-a-day promise].

What to do if you’ve broken a promise for this reason?

Sometimes our promises need to START SMALL. We can always work our way up to the moon. If you’ve made a promise to yourself that you broke because of this, break it down. Lower the bar for your promise just a smidge and allow yourself the time to work your way back up. For me, I’ve had so much going on lately, that I can't physically keep up with one more task even if it is just a food journal. So, I’ve decided to keep an eye on what I’m consuming as best I can and come 2015, I’ll work my way back up to the journal.  Same goes for my writing commitment.  

3. You don’t have the habits or routine to support it

This is a big [and scary] one. This means you don’t have the structure in your life currently to make this happen. And maybe its something that is super high on the priority list so letting it go or starting small just ain't gonna happen. This is the case 1000% with my commitment not to overbook myself.

What to do if you’ve broken a promise for this reason?

Well, I’m no behaviorist or psychologist, but I think we can all agree that something has to CHANGE to make this promise work. You’re going to have to build the structure in your life and that’s no easy process. BUT – it is totally doable. You’ve got this. You’ve already determined that this promise is high on your list and it is the right time to tackle it. You’ve got the foundation – now you just need to build the house. But here’s the secret key to this one in particular - even if you do break it, pick back up and START AGAIN.


I am working to create new habits and routines in my life right now. Not just for the promises listed above [I think we can all agree that the TV one is officially a lost cause…], but for the new promises I’ve been making to myself. Most of my new promises revolve around Everyday Enthusiastic and I’m super *enthusiastic* about them. But without new habits and making a strong effort for new routines in our household, these promises won't last a day.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 of this series On Promises – Making Them, Breaking Them and Keeping Them for more coming on my promises to YOU and specific ideas I am implementing to maintain my own promises. 

All ideas in this post are of my own opinions including mention of companies and/or affiliate sites.  No sponsorships were involved in the creation of this post.  Photographs taken by Meredith Wheeler using a DSLR Canon Rebel T3 and edited using Photoshop CC.