How to Keep Promises to Yourself Part 2

| | Personal Leadership
How to Keep Promises to Yourself Part 2 post image

Are you one of those people who do a great job keeping your commitments to others, but have a hard time keeping commitments to yourself? 

Perhaps you don’t struggle with this, but you likely know someone who does.  This is a big problem for a lot of people.

One of the most common recommendations by coaches (including me) is to get an accountability partner, which is still a great way to go.

Yet a personal experience reminded me of another option worth exploring:  get a buddy.

One of the commitments I have to myself that at I have a hard time keeping consistently is to take great care of my physical body.  This year I set an intention to be pain free because I’ve had a back injury that reminded me loudly last year that I have work to do which includes losing some weight.  So I decided to juice fast to cleanse my system and jump start some better eating habits.

This is my 10th fast so I have done this successfully on my own.  The difference this time is that I had a buddy.

Although never easy, this was quite honestly the easiest and most enjoyable fast for me ever both mentally and physically.  We even extended to a fourth day which I have never done.  In reflecting on why it was so much easier I am present to the power of the “buddy system”.

By “buddy” I mean someone with whom to share the experience.  This is distinct from the notion of an accountability partner in that you are both doing the same thing.   You are in it together vs. helping someone to keep a promise that has nothing to do with you and vice versa.

In reflection here is why I think the “buddy system” works (and why I think you should consider it for those personal commitments you find hard to keep):

1.  It takes your attention off of you.

In this case it was my friend Jodi’s first fast.  I wanted it to be a great experience for her so I embraced my role as her guide.  Instead of fixating on the challenges like how much I really wanted to chew on something or on occasion feeling tired, headachy or just plain grumpy, I was focused on how I could support her.  I was taking care of myself while being of service to someone else which removed any pull to give up; something that causes a lot of internal stress even though I have never quit. There wasn’t even an option to quit because I would be letting her down which was not an option.

2.  It provokes curiosity.

When you have someone with whom to talk about the process and your challenges it’s natural to get curious.  While I typically journal as a way to mine the gold from the experience, talking with someone else who was doing the same thing, but having a distinct experience, had me discover new things.  I also found I was more creative with the process because I had to figure out a way to make it work for both of us given we still had family and business commitments, not to mention different taste buds.  As Wendy Appel reminded me recently curiosity brings playfulness and joy to whatever you are doing, especially anything that you are resisting or feels like a chore.

3.  It helps you do it better.

It took less time to do the work together as we developed a system along the way. Her questions had me discover new things I would have not explored on my own.  Her suggestions and preferences had us invent new combinations that we absolutely loved.  If I did it on my own I would have stuck with what I had done before because it would have been easier.  Day four would also never have happened.

4.  WE is more enjoyable than ME.

When two people get together to do something to which they are both committed, the experience is bound to be far richer and just plain more enjoyable.  Also, when someone is there to support you and really understands what you are experiencing it may still be hard, yet it is makes the experience of the entire journey somehow better.

We are already planning a next time and are creating ways we can support each other in the days between to keep our promise to ourselves to make taking care of our physical bodies part of our everyday habits.

What could you enlist a buddy to do with you that could help you keep an important promise to yourself?

P.S. For more ideas on how to keep promises to yourself read Part 1 of How to Keep Promises to Yourself.


Enter A Comment

Jon Mertz   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

Great word, Susan! Buddy describes a closer relationship and someone who explores with you, just like when we were kids. It is like the kids in Stand By Me, off to discover together and sharing stories along the way. Great image. Great practice. Jon

Susan Mazza   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

Thanks Jon. It is exactly like when we were kids. Wonder why when we become adults we start to believe we have to do everything on our own.

Soren Sjogren   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

The buddy system is extensively used in my business: I am an army officer. It works because of the reasons mentioned in the article. An important part not mentioned in the article is the challenge of finding the right buddy.

A good buddy needs to reinforce you. Not drag you down. If both are not committed to following through you might find yourself at Starbucks instead of at the gym. On the other hand: a buddy that is a lot more motivated that you are might end up bored in the buddy system.
My advise: find a buddy similar to yourself. Commit to following through together.

Susan Mazza   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

That is great adice about finding the right buddy Soren. I do think it starts with finding someone who has the same commitment as you – both a commitment to the same thing and the level of commitment to seeing it through. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Randy Conley   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

I agree with Jon about the significance of the “buddy” system and how it conveys a sense of partnership and intimacy. One of the challenges I’ve always had with the word “accountability” is the negative connotation I place on it….it’s someone who is there to keep you in line…parental…authoritarian. But a buddy is someone who comes along side you and experiences the adventure with you!

Thanks for your valuable insight Susan.


Susan Mazza   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

Buddy does convey a sense of partnership and intimacy – great choice of words to describe it Randy.

Re: accountability, I understand the negative connotaion that is prevalant regarding accountability. It is a potent distinction that has been unfortuntately misunderstood and misused. I developed a course called the Art of Accountability to shift both the context and practices for accuontability because I think despite the negative connotation that persists, understanding and practicing it is so critical to successful and satisfying relationships.

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

Great words…. congrats on the juicing 🙂 and the process. It all makes sense for great health, energy, fun and companionship!

Susan Mazza   |   06 February 2013   |   Reply

Thanks Robyn! It was a really great experience – both the journey and the results.

Chery Gegelman   |   08 February 2013   |   Reply

Susan – I saw your post pop up in my feed earlier this week and have ben anxious for the time to sit and read it. I did not anticipate the recommendation of the accountability partner or the buddy or the emphasis on curiosity! I love how the story unfolds. I can feel the curiosity and the joy that comes from exloring together! THANK YOU for sharing!

Susan Mazza   |   11 February 2013   |   Reply

Glad you found it valuable (and unexpected) Chery!