THE BRAIN-POWER OF A PROMISE: BOOST YOUR MOJO IN 3 EASY STEPS
I expect that you are brilliant at keeping promises that you make towards other people such as your family, friends, colleagues etc. You would not dream of NOT doing the thing that you said you would, or not turning up at an allotted time. Whilst no-one is perfect and life can get sometimes get in the way, you probably have never doubted your reliability when you have agreed a pledge that involves someone else. With the incentive of external accountability, it so much easier to commit, isn’t it?
However, this may not consistently be the case for when you make promises to yourself though. Especially if the undertaking involves multiple steps, is likely to be challenging to complete, take time and even be pure fun for fun’s sake! So why is it easier to let ourselves down?
Obviously, we are unlikely to lose our job, family etc if we break a private promise so the stakes are not that high if we do not deliver, however another reason can be found in our brain.
When we make a promise to e.g. spend time on a creative project, exercise, clear out the cupboards at the weekend etc, we have every intention of doing it and believe that we will. At the time of deciding our diary in advance, we have high energy, we feel good and we can imagine our enjoyment and fulfilment not to mention satisfaction at the accomplishment.* Based upon thousands of decisions before, our brain predicts that the activity will indeed be executed and we experience a surge of feel-good neurotransmitters. Dopamine spikes at the anticipation of the reward to come…
However, the human brain is just not that good at prediction because really it is an efficiency that has evolved to primarily enable survival i.e. if A happens = always react with B, not to help us decide when to complete activities on our days off.
So the weekend arrives and we don’t feel like it because other things have happened since we originally thought about the task. A better offer comes in that usually offers a quick reward and it is easier to go with the path of least resistance and delay something that we “can fit in another time”. And so the cycle continues.
However, it is worth rectifying this as the simple act of maintaining a personal promise ALWAYS boosts mojo. Doing this repetitively is a sure and quiet way to increase confidence without having to feel the fear, or totally overhaul our life. Keeping a promise is an act of self-love reflecting back that we matter. If you think how much grief you have given yourself following not keeping to one of your own promises, you will recognise just how powerful this really is.
So how can you easily increase your promise making capability?
- Promise less.
- Evaluate your commitment. Ask: “Out of 10, how much am I definitely going to do this, no matter what?” You will feel the answer in your body. Your body never lies: you will feel emotion i.e. whether you feel committed or not.
- Be ready to put yourself first and prepared to say “no” to something else at the specified time.
What tasks do you find it difficult to keep your own promise to? Email me your top 3 answers at firstname.lastname@example.org and what you are going to do differently now.
*Yes, for many people, clearing out cupboards is immensely gratifying!