When you become your own best friend, life is easier.
Life is not all rainbows and butterflies. It can be tough sometimes. And you’ve paid a heavy price to get this far, so the best option is to really make it count by moving forward from where you are. Free yourself from the world’s negativity – from the sources of ignorance telling you what you can and cannot do – by promising to look ahead, to live ahead, and to get ahead. In other words, start making positive promises to yourself!
Promise to fight back, to fight harder, to laugh louder and longer and slap adversity back into its seat whenever it dares to stand against you. Promise to be a force to be reckoned with – because you are a force to be reckoned with.
Make these promises to yourself, and keep them forever.
Repeat after me: “I promise…”
- “I will not hold the past against myself.” – Your problems, your weaknesses, setbacks, regrets and mistakes teach you if you’re willing to learn, or they will punish you if you’re not. So let them teach you, every day. Take everything as a lesson learned. If you regret some of the decisions you have made in the past, stop being so hard on yourself. At that time, you did your best with the knowledge you had. At that time, you did your best with the experience you had. Your decisions were made with a younger mind. If you were to make these decisions with the wisdom you have today, you would choose differently. So give yourself a break. Time and experience has a wonderful way of helping us grow and learn to make better choices today, for ourselves and those we care for.
- “I will own my life and never deny responsibility for it.” – Through the grapevine, you may have learned that you should blame your parents, your teachers, your mentors, the education system, the government, etc., but never to blame yourself. Right? It’s never, ever your fault… WRONG! It’s always your fault, because if you want to change, if you want to let go and move on with your life, you’re the only person who can make it happen. It’s YOUR move to make. It’s YOUR responsibility. Own it!
- “I will speak kindly and consciously to myself.” – Wait, what did you just say to yourself? Were they the inspiring, encouraging words you would speak to a friend? Or were they the belittling remarks you might shout to an enemy if you had no heart. Or the negative assessments about life you would utter if you had no faith? All day long we speak silently to ourselves, and a part of us believes every word. So stay mindful, and ask yourself, “If I had a friend who always spoke to me in the same way that I am speaking to myself right now, how long would I allow that person to be my friend?” (Read Loving What Is.)
- “I will listen to what my heart and soul is telling me.” – When something feels right, that means it is right for you (at least it is worth looking into). And if you genuinely feel deep down that something is wrong, it probably is. Pay attention to your authentic feelings, and follow where they lead. When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.
- “I will live a life that feels right to me, not one that looks right to others.” – Give yourself permission to follow the path that makes YOU happy. And realize that some people in your life will refuse to walk beside you as you embark on this journey; they simply won’t approve no matter what you say, and that’s OK. Sometimes when you commit yourself to creating your own happiness, it clashes with the perceptions of others. Sometimes when you gain something great, you have to let go of something else. And sometimes this ‘something else’ is a relationship that only wants you to do what they want you to do.
- “I will let go of relationships that are obviously not meant to be.” – Most people come into your life temporarily simply to teach you something. They come and they go and they make a difference. And it’s OK that they’re not in your life anymore. Not all relationships last, but the lessons these relationships bring to you do. If you learn to open your heart and mind, anyone, including the folks who eventually drive you mad, can teach you something worthwhile. Sometimes it will feel weird when you realize you spent so much time with someone you are no longer connected to, but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. We all are. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- “I will not let any situation permanently steal my smile.” – Even when times are tough, take a moment to pause and remember who YOU are. Take a moment to reflect on the things that have real and lasting meaning in your life. And then smile about how far you’ve come. Honestly, nothing in this world is more beautiful and powerful than a smile that has struggled through the tears. Any fool can be happy when times are easy. It takes a strong soul with real heart to develop smiles out of situations that make us weep. No matter how long it takes, it will get better. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.
- “I will celebrate and appreciate the life I have.” – Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. Don’t be one of them. Take a breath of fresh air. The past is behind you. Focus on what you can do today, not on what you could’ve or should’ve done yesterday. Remember, for everything you’ve lost, you’ve gained something else. Appreciate what you have and who you are today. Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. Count your blessings, not your troubles. It costs nothing to be positive, and it changes things for the better. Your thoughts are yours to control, so make good use of them to give your actions and your life a powerful advantage.
- “I will realize and use my power to make a difference.” – The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. Don’t do this. The world needs you. In a world filled with doubt, you must dare to dream. In a world filled with anger, you must dare to forgive. In a world filled with hate, you must dare to love. In a world filled with distrust, you must dare to believe. And once you do, I promise, you will find that power you once thought you lacked.
- “I will dedicate myself to personal excellence.” – Anything worth doing, is worth doing right. And excellence is never an accident. It’s the result of high intention, focused effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities. It’s also important to note that excellence cannot be judged by looking at where you are at any given point in time, but by measuring the distance you have traveled from the point where you started. It’s about being diligent and making progress – either a step forward or a lesson learned – day in and day out. (Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
- “I will keep stretching myself beyond my previous level of comfort.” – Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Know this! When you’re struggling, that’s when you’re growing stronger and smarter. The more time you spend there, the faster you learn. It’s better to spend an extremely high quality ten minutes growing, than it is to spend a mediocre hour running in place. Every day, you want to practice at the point where you are on the edge of your ability, stretching yourself over and over again, making mistakes, stumbling, learning from those mistakes and stretching yourself even farther.
- “I will embrace the changes I know I need to make.” – Life is a balancing act of holding on and letting go – of staying put and moving on. We strive to make the right choices, but how do we know when it is truly time to move forward with our lives? The signs aren’t always easy to accept, but they are there and you know it. Relationships, jobs, and even the cities we live in have expiration dates. Sometimes we hold on to what’s not working out of fear that we won’t be able to adapt to necessary changes. And thus, the outcome is always the same: more pain, immense frustration, and lasting regret. Be smarter than that. Embrace the changes you know you need to make.
In a world where vows are often left unfulfilled – where making a pledge means less than it used to – where promises seem like they’re made to be broken – it would be nice to see words come back into power, wouldn’t it? Yet, words can be twisted into any shape, so you must be careful not to be careless. Remember this when you make promises to yourself. Your promises must be backed by devoted action.
The image you have of yourself in the future depends on the actions you watch yourself take today.
Promise yourself and then prove it!
The floor is yours…
Which of the points above resonate with you the most? What promises do you want (or need) to make to yourself? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
Photo by: Greg Gibb
Wonderful tips, Marc! So many of them I think we learn with life experience and age, such as not caring too much about what others think, or to never hold the past against yourself. When we’re young we think we should be able to go through life without messing up, and peer pressure makes us very aware of what others think; with age that becomes less of a concern.
I would also add to the list to “promise to always see the best in others.” If we could all do that, even just a little bit, I think the world would be a far more giving, loving, and rewarding place.
It’s been awhile since I’ve commented, but this post really resonated with me.
Based on these words from your book, which I have up on my bulletin board…
“Don’t ever hesitate to give yourself a chance to be everything you are capable of being. It’s better to cross the line and suffer the consequences of a lesson learned, than to just stare at that line for the rest of your life and always wonder. Remember, courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid; courage means you don’t let your fear stop you.”
…I have spent the past year of my life promising myself I will maintain the courage necessary to chase a big goal I’ve been thinking about for a long while. So far so good. Thank you for giving me the push I needed!
Fay Daliva says
All of your points here are great, but I give the highest importance and weight to #5 – “I will live a life that feels right to me, not one that looks right to others.” This hit home like a grand slam. I feel, literally, like you were speaking to me about a big career decision I’m in the middle of making. Thank you for your wonderful offerings on your website, newsletters, and book. You are helping me make life-changing promises to myself, and keep them.
Gai Nguyen says
I always have one promise to myself: Keep my promises.
#3 is so important and that’s what I feel is the most important path to our personal worth and success. Unfortunately that inner voice has been shaped by parents, family and teachers our entire life and a lot of it negative. By being more mindful of that critical voice, being more compassionate to ourselves and practicing being gentler with ourselves, we can not only change our subconscious thoughts but ourselves. speaking kindly to yourself can only lead to treating yourself more kindly. thank you for this timeless post, Marc!
Debie Grace says
Mine is “I will not hold the past against myself.” I have so many regrets — relationships that ended that I thought is because of me. But it just turns out that it’s not just me, it’s also because of them as well. Some things are not meant to last longer no matter how good it were. Glad that I had those experiences to treasure in life but I’m more glad that I’m letting the connection go because I know it’s the right thing.
Fantastic tips… so true and helpful.
Also, got your book and I can only describe it as a lifelong book of positive learning. Keep up the good work and I will be looking forward to your 2nd book.
Perfectly timed, as always 🙂
I’m working on #6 right now – “I will let go of relationships that are obviously not meant to be.”
Thanks for all your posts, they are very helpful.
Such a beautiful and well written post 🙂
The points about outgrowing companions and even where you live resonate with me. My life has changed irrevocably, and I just don’t seem to fit into the old one anymore. It’s been a source of stress and unhappiness, but I am starting to work on changes.
Numbers 10 and 11 are definitely a core part of my ethos, but I have to make sure I balance them with number 3. It’s never easy, but being kind to ourselves is a critical foundation for the rest.
Thanks for the important reminder.
“It’s also important to note that excellence cannot be judged by looking at where you are at any given point in time, but by measuring the distance you have traveled from the point where you started.”
Gratitude and appreciation keep you humble.
#8 really hit home for me today. We recently made friends with a young couple from Russia. He just opened a shop here in town. After a day of helping his stock shelves, we had them over for dinner. Sitting in our backyard he said, “You are living my dream.” Wow…where we are right now in our lives is someone else’s dream.
#1 – “Your decisions were made with a younger mind. If you were to make these decisions with the wisdom you have today, you would choose differently.”
This helps me extend grace and forgiveness to people who have, in some way, caused me pain in the past.
Yes, I will embrace the changes I need to make. I had made up my mind not to do something, but recent developments have encouraged me to review my stand. Thanks, you are always encouraging me to be my best.
David Rapp says
I like the idea of these promises, but I struggle with the lack of the action plan.
So making these promises is only the first step in a complex process. You have to repeat and reinforce them in your own mind when confronted by life situations that challenge them. This is the cross over from thought to belief.
When you believe them strongly enough, you can take action. Coming up with the action plan to “implement” them into your life will be the real challenge. For instance, letting go of toxic people…OK if its my sister HOW do I do that? This notion of HOW is what drives your behavior, it puts ideas into action.
I loved reading each one of these points~ the one most special to me is 10: “I will dedicate myself to personal excellence.” – Anything worth doing, is worth doing right. And excellence is never an accident. It’s the result of high intention, focused effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.”
This is the sort of mindset I’m striving towards! Some days it’s not so easy, and I wonder if what I’m doing is really worth it…. but then:
“It’s also important to note that excellence cannot be judged by looking at where you are at any given point in time…”
I’m so glad to have advice from someone who just ‘gets it’. Someone who can put these ideas into words in such an encouraging way.
So I guess there’s only one thing left for me to do: keep that promise forever.
Great article. #5 is my weakness. People-pleasing. I am trying to get rid of it and have to work hard 🙂
#5 point is most helpful to my current educational problem. I promise to step forward with my heart! Thank You very much! Your posts always encourage me.
My promise today: I promise never to reject myself again. The fact that others have rejected me for one reason or another, one way or another, over the years, all of it best known to themselves, does not mean I have to reject myself as a consequence. Am loving telling myself this new promise over and over again. We all know what rejection feels like, a real punch in the gut, but I’ve been walking around for 30 years or so as if punches from the past still had power. I don’t care what I do now, I’ve broken away from the chains, and I will never again reject myself because of others’ rejection of me. No, no, no, no, no.
This resonated with me so strongly. Thank you for this. I agree with some comments above about others shaping our inner thoughts. I know it was learned because I felt as a child I could do anything. I felt so free. The world was an adventure. It’s struggle to get to that place I felt as a child and blend it with the wisdom I’ve acquired through life. This has helped me by giving me renewed energy and hope. I will see the highest and strive for the best.
Wonderful and wise post…resonates deeply with me, particularly as am in transition, on many levels, following a recent and traumatic ending of my long term relationship.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and encouraging me to embrace change and my newfound freedom with such positivity and authenticity 🙂
Iva Ursano says
#9 and #11. I own those two! 🙂 Love this article. Thanx Marc. I’ve promised myself to stop saying no to new opportunities and flick fear away. I’m embracing life like never before. The first 50 yrs was learning lessons. The next 50 will be living life to the fullest, with no regrets, and spreading love and sunshine!
I don’t think any other website or book articulates these principles as well as you do. Thank you for the continued guidance.
What a wonderful post! After reading these promises, I am reminded of the changes I am working on making in my life, and why.
All really apply to me. They are all quite challenging, but necessary.
Today I asked the universe for a sign to help me to decide to stay or go. This article is just what I needed! It helped me a lot.
I always look so forward to seeing I have email from you in my inbox. Thank you.
Sebastian Aiden Daniels says
When I saw the title I thought to myself, “You shouldn’t say forever, but with these tips it really should be forever.” These are fantastic things to keep in mind in order to treat yourself well. I am going to focus on #5. I have a difficult time with being true to myself. I’ve gotten better about it recently and at the same time still have a long way to go. Thanks for the reminder!
Captain Kirk says
Thank you sharing your wisdom and life coaching lessons with all of us. As we apply these principles in our lives, our quality of life will improve.
After many years of life and experience, I have come to the reality that EVERYONE is uniquely wounded and uniquely imperfect. Consequently, we may need to perform some repair and maintenance on our lives….or possibly courageously consider an Extreme Makeover.
My mission statement moving forward is:
Transform the WOUNDS into WISDOM. Be COURAGEOUS and STRONG!
And….apply the lessons learned in life (including the from the University of Adversity) to change, grow, improve, mature, and become a VICTOR….instead of a VICTIM.
Thank you also for the your insight on SMILES (ref: #7). A smile does improve our “face value” and can offer the gift of love, peace, and JOY to others. With this in mind, I offer you an acronym for SMILE.
Meet……..with a smile
Inspire…..with a smile
Live……….live to smile……..and smile to live.
Energize…Your life… and share that energy.
Oh boy! these are difficult promises to keep 🙂
The one I’m struggling with right now is to face my fears. I realize that my fears are being shown up for me to see my dark corners, and to shine light on them. They’re lessons and opportunities, right?
“The image you have of yourself in the future depends on the actions you watch yourself take today.”
The above passage reminds me that if I want a better future for myself, I have to work at it everyday in order to achieve my goal.
One of the hardest things to realize is that sometimes you have to let go of relationships you have spent years working on. Sometimes that means siblings too. You just know in your heart you have to move on.
I have followed you a while now and this is the first time I’ve commented. Number 7 was the one that resonated with me today: “Any fool can be happy when times are easy. It takes a strong soul with real heart to develop smiles out of situations that make us weep.” Have looked to your inspiring words on many occasions, to remind myself that “this too shall pass.”
Great article. These 12 promises you should make to yourself and keep forever will be very useful and helpful. I love the idea of # 4 & 5. I will promise this to myself for me to become a better person and contented on my life. Thanks for sharing this article. I love this post.
Mia Fillinger says
Marc, I have been reading your articles for some time now and they are powerful and poignant. #5 resonates the most ” I will live the life that feels right to me and not others”. I believe that somewhere along the way we are all guilty of allowing others to dissuade us from doing just that. We find ways to justify that by talking ourselves out of what feels right to us under the premise that he/she might know better, when in fact that is the furthest thing away from the truth. Thank you for your insight and for the positivity your articles bring me in spite of life’s vicissitudes.
For me it is not ignoring my feelings and intuition . I believe the root cause of all our sorrows is ignoring how we feel . When we overlook our emotions ;we are signing up for things that we never want from life . Our soul is like a guidance system ; going against it is like going against the tide .
Thank you Marc for a great post.
Marc Chernoff says
@J.J: Great addition! When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself and your life.
@Dev: We’re writing the words, you’re doing the work. Great job! We’re happy to help in any small way we can.
@Cindy: Reminds me of the saying: “The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for.” Beautiful reminder.
@David Rapp: Valid point. To start, you can begin limiting your time with your sister when she is being negative, and if she’s always being negative, let her know. Not easy, I know.
@Nickolas: I love it!
@Captain Kirk: I can’t think of a better acronym. Thank you!
@All: As David mentioned, making the promise is easy, but it’s the action and holding yourself accountable that takes work. This is a great starting point and I challenge each of you to revisit these promises in a week and reflect on how you’re doing.
Number 3 Resonates with me because I had to learn to consciously pay attention to my negative self talk. If you have problems with this one, just keep on forgiving yourself; over and over again.
Everyone of the 12!! Having just celebrated my 62 th birthday, I am moving forward, and smiling brightly, and loving myself more each new day.
@Iva, you rock.
@Captain Kirk, awesome.
Thank you Marc. Such insight.
Keri C says
I needed this wonderful read. Thank you very much.
Such a well written piece. These surely are words to live by when life begins to feel too difficult to tackle. So glad you wrote this!
You’ve conveyed this with honest compassion. Thanks for writing this!!
Drea Duque says
Long time ago, I promised to myself that I’ll believe in me, same way I believe, support and encourage others. It was hard (and still is), but I keep trying.
Thanks for the reminders! I really enjoyed this 🙂
Hi, another motivating and very inspiring post again. Words are really very powerful, it can change or break a person. They say promises are made to be broken, but it will always be up to you to keep your promise and prove it. Thanks for sharing a great article!
“I will live a life that feels right to me, not one that looks right to others.” Love it!! My family recently decided to move out of our home state for several reasons. Nearly all of our friends and family supported us, except for a couple. They saw us as being selfish and abandoning family. We realize they will never see what we and so many saw…a better life and future for our children, and that it is not our job to change their minds and see things differently. We are all happier and healthier and we no longer worry what the few think. It is a huge weight off our shoulders.
The first one resonates the most because I beat myself up every day over poor decisions I made years ago. I really do have to realize that those mistakes are exactly that: mistakes. I still make mistakes today and I get over them, pretty damn quickly. And if I have certain regrets attached to those mistakes, like career direction or life direction, then it’s not too late to fix those mistakes. I can still get doen the things i wanted to get done way back when. Life is short…start living.
Glenda M. Conde says
I am so thankful for all the articles that you’ve been emailing me. It’s my personal therapy, and it’s been helping me a lot. I have so far been very positive with a lot of things that I encounter in my life right now, and I thank God for people like you Marc and Angel. I have been sharing your articles and it’s been helping some of my friends too…thank you. May God bless you more and may you continue to be the “best coach” ever. =)
I absolutely loved this! I echoed a loud and hearty amen the whole way through it! Thanks for reminding me to remember what I know in my knower and believe in my heart! #feelingthoughtful #focusingagain
Thank you so much for the ageless wisdom embodied in your advice….my life has been difficult, and still is, but you are helping me find a way through.
Hi MARC CHERNOFF… your post is amazing, and we all need to make these Promises to ourselves…