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31 Days

Day 16

Keep Your Promises

Words by Scott Woolf

Man keep his word to a group illustration

Each new year is a chance to reinvent ourselves. We vow to eat healthier, spend more time with loved ones, be grateful, and a million other iterations of self-improvement. The refreshed calendar is a blank slate and the peer pressure of New Year's Resolutions has won out yet again. Of course, it's easy to half-heartedly promise ourselves this is the year we sign up for a marathon, go after that new job, or something similarly life-changing. But, what if we focused on ourselves? And not just ourselves and one large accomplishment, but a series of smaller ones that will create positive ripples in every aspect of our lives?

Keep your word.
Operate with intent.
Hold yourself accountable.

Man keep his word to a group illustration

Make this the year of keeping promises to yourself. Let these promises influence your larger goals and allow that broad impact to overflow into every aspect of your life that stands to improve. By keeping your word to yourself, you'll no doubt become a man of integrity that will keep his promises to others as well. But how do you strengthen that proverbial promise muscle? By following this four-part plan.


Write It Down

Visualization is an effective tool for seeing where you want to go. However, visualizing something physical grounds your promises. Write down how you will keep your promise to yourself: a sticky-note on your computer monitor, the back of a picture frame you keep on your desk, a daily calendar reminder as you start your day. Seeing that constant reminder of what you're focusing on will drive your goals home more effectively. This also protects you from moving your own goal posts and lessening your original promise.

If seeing is believing then seeing your goals and promises is believing they are attainable.

Sneakers illustration

Minor Checkpoints

Sneakers illustration

Is getting in better shape an overarching goal in 2024? We're always looking to physically improve ourselves. But, it's the planning and small accomplishments that lead to the larger goal we've promised ourselves. Map out checkpoints and stick to the smaller tasks that swing the momentum in your direction. Don't run five miles by the end of January, run 10 times in January, and increase your distance each time out.

Regardless of your goal, breaking it down into micro-wins and mapping out the process will help you plan your path.



We're all chasing a dopamine rush. Fortunately, accomplishing goals releases that drug for us. If the quick hit isn't enough to keep you motivated, find other small rewards to act as a carrot dangled above your head. Save a new piece in your closet until you've read to your child before bed three times a week. Keep that new Netflix comedy special in your queue until you've run the 25th mile of the month. As these small rewards pile up—and the effort that went into them compound—and you'll find yourself closer to the goal you've written down.

Don't self-sabotage with cheat meals that set you back. Find perks that complement your goal.

Cheer cone illustration


Cheer cone illustration

You may be keeping promises to yourself, but those promises are surely affecting those around you, too. Your inner circle is (or should be) your biggest gathering of champions. Use it. Share with your partner, your friends, or your mentors your goals. Self-improvement and keeping promises is a personal journey, but the positive influence and encouragement from others is a valuable tool. The most important people in your life support you—and should be supporting your goals, so let them in on your secrets and allow them to keep you in check.

Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. Allow the people closest to you to provide the nudge of encouragement to stay on track.

The Impact of
Broken Promises

Cross mark illustration

You’ll doubt your abilities. Your friends and loved ones will lose trust in you and at work, coworkers may hesitate to ask you for help, and you might be excluded from future discussions.