Every year, I do some version of an annual review. This is wonderful best practice I picked up from Kathryn & David Allen, probably when I was a teenager attending David’s workshop, gifted to the Ojai public schools (my parents, both educators, let me tag along). The purpose of the yearly review is to step back from the daily grind and acknowledge and celebrate the year I’ve had. It’s a really sweet process of remembering, celebrating, and completing the year.
It’s also a powerful opportunity to get more awareness about:
How am I doing with all the areas of my life?
- Self Care
- Health & Fitness
- Relationships (partner, friends, family, colleagues)
- Home & Possessions
- Service & Giving Back
- Fun & Recreation (hobbies, travel, sports, etc.)
I review these life areas weekly, but it’s in the annual review that I get some of my biggest insights. Am I heading in the direction I want to go? How can I do better? What were the surprises that came up this year? How prepared am I to deal with the unexpected? How am I being with myself in relation to these different areas of life? What do I want more of in the year ahead? What is required for me to create that?
I’m spending a few hours today considering these questions, and more. What makes this annual review special for me is that I included The Promise Doctrine, a book and workbook by my friend and mentor, Jason Womack, and his father, Craig Womack. The subtitle is “A guidebook for consistently delivering on your promises”. I thought that was especially relevant for me this year, because of my 2010 goals to increase trust with myself, and get smarter about when I say “yes” and when I say “no” to opportunities that knock on my door.
What I Learned From The Promise Doctrine
Here are a few highlights of what I got out of using this book.
1. Building Trust Is Like Saving Money
“The more deposits that you can make into your “trust” bank account – that is, the more you do what you said you would do – trust builds and relationships strengthen.” – The Promise Doctrine, page 39
This quote couldn’t be more true when it comes to your relationship with yourself. Guess who is the one person who knows, 100% of the time, whether you’re meeting your commitments or not? You.
What I love about the metaphor of making bank deposits is that wealth usually doesn’t come from depositing one big lump sum (winning the lottery). A healthy savings grows because of consistent small deposits. Every promise (which could also be called every agreement) we make and keep not only builds trust with others, but more importantly, it builds the self-confidence we need to continue making and delivering on good promises.
What do I mean by good promises? Good promises would be agreements that you make consciously, with awareness of what’s involved in order to deliver on it, and in alignment with your overall priorities and goals in the life areas above. It’s not the list of things we tend to say yes to because we feel like we should, because we’ve fallen asleep at the wheel, or because we don’t have the courage to say no.
So as you look back over 2010, what promises did you keep? (Celebrate them!) Which ones did you break? Of the ones you broke, consider – were they realistic, measurable, aligned with your priorities? What else did you let get in the way keeping it? Any ideas about why you made that particular promise in the first place? Those questions might give you some clues about how to choose the kind of promises you are likely to keep: the ones that align with where you’ve been (tools and experiences in your toolbox), where you are (current resources available, based on all the other commitments you have), and where you want to go (priorities, goals and vision of the life areas above.) Until you have a total inventory of what’s on your plate, how will you know when to take another helping of responsibility, or when to pass the serving bowl?
My goal for 2011 is to get even better about making consistent trust deposits into the bank account of me.
2. Renegotiation Vs. Promise-Breaking
“Renegotiation does not mean lowering standards. In fact, renegotiation is a way of raising standards.” – page 69
“Always be honest with yourself and others about what you will be able to do.” – page 69
Do you know that everyone has to renegotiate their promises sometimes? The best of the best cannot predict all of the unexpected surprises of life. But they can adjust their promises and actions accordingly. There is a big difference between making excuses for a broken promise, and renegotiating a promise so that you can deliver on it.
How do I know the difference? A sinking feeling in my gut is a loud and clear sign I’ve broken my word with myself at some level. An increase in energy and a willingness to courageously re-negotiate with the other people involved, that means I’ve re-calculated and I’m still on track. Even if you’ve got that sinking feeling with yourself, and even if you’ve got it often, don’t despair. Renegotiate the things you can right now. A quick call, a few emails, and you’re back to being honest with yourself and others. The sooner you let other people know that you care, that this promise is important to you, and that they are important to you, the easier it will be to complete what you’ve started.
3. Start Moving and Keep Going
“Action begets further action.” – page 62
I’m constantly watching myself to find out what motivates me, and what diminishes my motivation. Inaction breeds discouragement and self-judgment. Movement, action, risk-taking all create and contribute to motivation, self-trust, and inspiration about what’s next. So as I look at the big projects I’ve accomplished this year (like moving to a new apartment, and getting two kittens), and as I choose some big goals for next year (like growing my business, and getting to my ideal fitness level), I remind myself:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tsu
Now it’s your turn
If there is one big accomplishment you would like to have, do, or be in 2011, what is it? Another way to ask this question is, if you were doing your end-of-2011 review, what compliment would you like to give yourself for 2011?
Now, how will you begin this journey with one single, small, achievable step? Please email me your answers, I would love to hear what you are promising yourself for the year ahead.
Be sure to check out The Promise Doctrine for more on becoming a good promise keeper. I highly recommend it.