As the year comes to an end, it is customary for people to be thinking about resolutions for the new year. The dictionary would say a resolution is, “a firm decision to do or not do something…the firmness of purpose…determination. I see it as making a promise, the giving of one’s word, a serious commitment.

In today’s world, the act of “making and keeping a promise…the giving and keeping of one’s word” is taken way too lightly. It has lost it’s importance, almost reverence. If you were to ask someone, “do you keep your word, “they would most likely say “Yes.” They might even say it with a little indignation; thinking to themselves, “how could you imply or even think that I am the type of person who doesn’t keep their word… Of course, I do!”

Well, I think that you would be surprised how frequently people break their word - and aren’t even aware of it. John promises himself that he is going to get up when his alarm goes off - first ring, no more snooze alarm. Next morning, he hits the snooze alarm several times. Did he keep his word to himself? Linda promises not to have cake for a week to start off her new healthy living plan. That afternoon, there is a surprise office birthday party for a friend. She has a piece of birthday cake telling herself she’ll start tomorrow. Did she keep her word to herself? Do you think that John and Linda consider their choice, their decision - was breaking their word or promise to themselves? Most likely no! Every time you give your word and fail to keep, it it is a breach of your integrity. Breaching your integrity is like taking a hatchet to one of your legs and start chipping away at your structure. It is that serious an offense to your emotional well-being.

That’s the problem and that’s why our lives look the way they do. We are careless with our word. Can you imagine how our lives would look if we kept our promises to ourselves? Every time we don’t keep our word to ourselves, we violate a core value and principle! Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, says, “Be impeccable with your word.” This is the most important vow you will ever make.

I have a challenge for you in the new year; I hope you take it. If you want your life to change, to turn around, to be more fulfilling, follow this simple creed: “Give Your Word then Keep Your Word!” That formula will produce your Well-Being. Don’t promise it, unless you mean it! This is what I suggest you do if you are serious about having a great life.

1.) Give your word to do or not do something. Start small; choose something manageable in some area of your life for the next week or month.

2.) Write it down, being clear and specific.

3.) Do IT!

Let’s take an example. Dennis wants to spend more quality time with his son after learning at a school conference that his son is being bullied. He wants to develop a specific, detailed plan. How, when and where will he spend more time with his son? He thinks that after dinner would be a good time. He commits to spending time after dinner, in his son’s room. How much time does he plan to spend, how many nights per week, what will they talk about or what activities does he want to do? After some discussion with his consultant, he decides to spend 15 minutes in his son’s room, after dinner, three nights a week. He decides that since he has not been doing this on a regular basis, he will start small with a precise plan so that he can be sure that he can measure his progress. You can’t be sure that you have kept your word until you can measure or record the results. Starting small, he has a better chance of success. Note the 15 minutes and 3 nights a week. This is very important. Start small; you can always increase the effort later.

Taking on my challenge — give your word then keep it — would make my year. It would even be better if you took this challenge for a week or a month and then used the email below to tell me how your life has improved. There’s nothing better than helping someone keep their WORD and see their life improve. That’s the work of a consultant. I guarantee you — this formula works! Let’s continue the discussion at: www.familyconsultationservices.com/articles.

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Tom Power is a family relationship consultant and the author of “Family Matters: A Layperson’s Guide to Family Functioning.” You can check out his website at www.familyconsultationservices.com or email questions to changeUprogram@gmail.com.

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