Why we make promises we don't keep

Why we make promises we don't keep

Ever meet someone who says they will do something, but they just don't follow through? Maybe you reading this are that someone.

You know, where you'll say that you're starting a new project, but nothing happens and you've not done anything on it.

The question is, why do we make these promises that we don't end up keeping?

The first part of why these promises are made is because we often feel that we want to show that we're ambitious and successful. We don't want to disappoint others, and in some way, we want to be seen as interesting. We might even have a fear of missing out if others are busy being successful.

The other part of it is we're really trying to motivate ourselves to do this thing we like the idea of, but aren't fully committed to doing it.

In some way, we share these ideas of things we're going to do in the hope that others will somehow spark the motivation to help us actually do it.

But when that doesn't happen. When other people show a lack of interest, we start to devalue its importance.

Sometimes however it can go the other way. Sometimes they show a great enthusiasm and put an increased amount of pressure on us to now do the thing we promised. Imposter syndrome kicks in combined with guilt of not working on it.

This creates a hugely negative emotion when we think of the goal. We end up actively avoiding it. We fear it coming up in conversation. It's embarrassing and our reputation is on the line.

Another reason why we fail to take action is because we simply liked the idea of doing it, but not really the idea of putting all the work in. It just simply wasn't a priority. The act of sharing our desire was enough to give us the dopamine hit we needed and now life can carry on as normal.

We look back at all the things we failed to achieve and may see the broken promises. We see the gap from what we said we were going to do, to what we actually achieved. This only makes it harder to try something new.

So if you find yourself in this situation, consider the following...

Don't focus on the goal and share you're going to do something because you like the idea of success. Focus on the actions it takes to get there. The micro action. The stupidly small tasks. Take appreciation and enjoyment of doing just the simplest thing. Great achievements happen through the sum of small actions.

Be mindful about who you share it with. Rather than say "I'm going to do this", share a thing you've learned about it instead. Rather than say "I'm going to write a book", say "Hey, I wrote my chapter 1 outline, want to see it?".

Finally, don't be hard on yourself. At the end of the day, what we do and how we feel is mostly a result of our biological tendencies. Our brain likes to promise things even if our heart doesn't want to see it through. If you find that you're not doing the things you said you were going to do, don't let that define your narrative. Be honest and say, "that strategy didn't work".

Focus less on the outcome and more on what you do today. Let each footstep lead the way.

Today's 'ah-ha' moment is that we may find ourselves breaking promises of the things we said we were going to do. It can have an impact on our self esteem. Instead, of focusing on the outcome, just focus on enjoying the actions we can do on a day-to-day and let success emerge from our effort.

Want to level up your note-taking and be a deep meaningful thinker? Check out my book Atomic Note-Taking.