The other day, I had just begun working through the Curious Voyage Journal when my colleague posted about the importance of keeping a journal. As I pondered their post, I found myself wondering, what is it that motivates us to do something so important for our well-being? And what is it that stops us?
The longer I have kept a daily reflection journal, the stronger I find my motivation, and my connection to the things that really matter keeps growing. I know that journaling is good for the quality of my life and my overall well-being. The power of journaling can offer a person benefits like:
- Helping one organize their thoughts
- Aiding in setting and achieving goals
- Motivating the writer to pursue the life they have always dreamt of
- Building a stronger sense of self-awareness
- Helping one shift their thought processes to benefit their mental health
So, journaling is a wonderfully beneficial habit to build. Knowing this isn’t always enough to motivate one to maintain the habit, though. So, how can one find and maintain the motivation to keep their promise of starting such a beneficial habit?
As I wondered where the motivation to do these things comes from, I began to realize that maybe it isn’t motivation at all that leads us to keep the promises we make to ourselves. Rather than motivation, the word that came to me was discipline. You may be scratching your head, wondering just what I am talking about because discipline is typically defined as training people to follow the rules by using punishment when they are disobedient. So how can that possibly help one keep their promises? The more curious I got on the subject, the more I discovered it was about self-promises and self-discipline.
I feel satisfied and pleased when I promise myself I will do something and then follow through. However, when I don’t follow through on the promises I make to myself, I feel let down. If that doesn’t relate to something from my past, I don’t know what does.
Like many others, I love making plans with my friends and family. When the plans go accordingly, my heart is content. However, when the people I made plans with did not follow through, I felt disappointed.
Every time someone would cancel on our plans, I would find the disappointment chipping away at the foundation of trust I had for them. While I still loved to hang out with them, I would find myself doubting that any plans I made with them would follow through.
Through my years, I have found that this mistrust can occur internally, as well. Every time I make a promise to myself, only to break it later, the confidence I had in myself would slowly begin to fade away until I found myself battling low motivation and self-esteem.
As a curious person, I decided it was time to leave my old ways behind and take a different path. I started to drop my old habits of breaking promises to myself and began focusing on following through with the things I said I was going to do. With every promise kept, my confidence, gratitude, and inner peace seemed to become stronger than ever before. Self-appreciation and pride started to grow with positive reinforcement. My self-esteem improved.
I also pursued the skill of prioritization. I learned to assess the things on my promise list and consider their importance. If I didn’t do something, it was often because something else was a higher priority. The more I learned about my priorities, the less guilt I felt when a low-priority task slipped through the cracks. Rather than beat myself up for not completing every last thing on my seemingly endless to-do list, I congratulated myself for completing the most important things first.
However, not every promise I didn’t follow through with was low-priority. I am certainly not perfect and found myself struggling at times when I worked to form new habits. Habits take time to develop, and some require an adjustment period.
For example, when I began working on the habit of keeping a daily reflection journal, I found myself struggling to remain consistent with my evening reflections. Evening reflections used to be a breeze, but as my life continues to evolve, I have found that they have simply become too difficult to maintain.
Rather than get down on myself about being unable to squeeze an evening reflection in, I accepted that my rhythm had changed and found that journaling in the morning worked better for me. I begin the reflection of yesterday before I start my new day every morning. Some of us are more morning people and some are more evening people. Do what works!
For those who have read The Curious Voyage: A Rule-Breaking Guidebook to Authenticity, you may recall I am not great at following these types of guidelines to the tee. I am an out-of-the-box type of person. This is precisely why finding the rhythm for a new habit is so crucial to implementing it.
Keeping these promises to myself didn’t only leave me feeling confident and secure within myself, it fueled my ambition and motivation for life, helping me continue my journey toward self-growth and fulfillment.
Have you been struggling to keep the promises you made to yourself? Know that there is no need to beat yourself up over it. You can start the year anew. We have all struggled to keep promises with ourselves. Rather than wallow in the disappointment of a broken self-promise, consider ways in which you can become more consistent in following through on them.
To begin building the discipline necessary to follow through on building those habits and keeping those promises to yourself, you must first consider what about this promise has sparked your interest. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What about it interests me?
- Is my lack of interest caused by fear or anxious thoughts? If so, get curious about that part. Explore the fear and consider ways you can battle it.
- Is there something more pressing catching my attention?
- What can I do to make this new habit more fun or align with what I need? This will help you find the motivation to prioritize and follow through on this promise, rather than allowing it to become little more than a fleeting thought.
Now that you have figured out why you would like to pursue this habit, it is time to make a plan to implement it. When you have a plan, following through on your promises with yourself becomes much easier. Keep it simple within a range you can succeed.
Throughout this process, it is crucial that you are kind to yourself. Every new habit takes time and energy to build. As time goes on and you become better acquainted with your new habit, it will become second nature. You simply have to be kind and patient with yourself until that day comes.
Encouragement and support can also be great tools for building habits and keeping those important promises to yourself. If you are in need of encouragement in this journey, join me at cynthasis.teachable.com for added support on keeping the Curious Voyage Journal.