A few months ago, I made a commitment to never break the promises I make to myself ever again. This was especially tough for me, the professional list maker and goal setter who never actually followed through.
There are a lot of ways in which I hope to grow and change over time. However, I’ve discovered that focusing on changing a bajillion habits at once is ineffective. So when I set out to lose weight and build myself back up again after ignoring life’s whisper for far too long, I started with baby steps.
Over the past six months, I have made exercise, eating well, meditation and reading spiritual and self-help books that keep me on track sustainable habits.
Then last week, I made a pretty big promise, at least for me. I felt ready to challenge myself to start every day with these new habits before I left for work. The goal was to enjoy my mornings and set myself up for success the rest of the day.
However, if you knew me, you would know that my love for sleep rivals my love for beautiful, bald black men who wear glasses, and I cannot form a complete thought for at least an hour after I wake up. So when I made the radical decision to wake up at 5AM, I truly put my commitment to test.
When my obnoxious alarm jerked me out of my peaceful sleep the next morning, hours before the sun was even thinking about showing itself for the day, my first thought was, “Uuuuunnnnggghhhhhh.” Next thought? “I. Caaaaaan’t.”
It seemed so healthy the night before. I had fantasized about sharing with people how I loved to enjoy slow, quiet mornings. It sounds so well rounded, don’t you think? “Oh yes, I love the stillness of the mornings. It’s my favorite time of day.”
Naturally, the self-created excuses flooded my mind – anything so I could talk myself back into sleeping more – excuses like, “Nobody else in the world is awake, so why am I waking up at this ungodly hour?”
Then there was the most dangerous kind of excuse: the excuse that talks you out of doing something now in exchange for doing it later, which we all know never happens. I couldn’t yet envision what it would feel like after I had accomplished everything I wanted. All I could feel was my exhaustion, my extremely heavy eyelids, and the drool dribbling down my chin (it’s an issue).
It took everything I had to drag myself out of bed. After all, there was no flight to catch, no deadline hanging over my head, no one to hold me accountable – it was just me and that damn promise.
But somehow, only 2 snoozes later, I did it. I miraculously got out of bed and followed through.
And here is what I realized: something amazing happens when you make the decision to honor your own promises. The justifications and excuses that play through your mind lose their power, because you are now aware of their self-destructive nature. You have now given yourself the chance to be on the other side of things. You have experienced the accomplishment that comes along with following through and taking yourself seriously. You have earned back your own trust.
These self-destructive thoughts don’t disappear immediately, but you and your newfound awareness learn to ignore them and do the very thing you promised to yourself but never actually followed through with – until now.
I also discovered while walking my dog, Jax, that there are other people awake at 5 in the morning (yeah, I know, it’s weird).
I learned that exercising in the mornings gives me an unparalleled sense of accomplishment; watching the sun rise from my bedroom window always provides me with a sense of awe; meditating first thing makes me feel grounded, open, and more willing to give and receive love throughout the day; and choosing to invest in and make myself a priority on a daily basis makes me feel as though I have so much more to give, like I am Oprah and I am prepared to give a car to every person I encounter.
Most importantly, now my word means something to me, because I have proven that I am capable of honoring the promises I make to myself. The thing is: if I don’t honor them, how can I expect anyone else to keep the promises they make to me? If my word means nothing, then so will everybody else’s.
And as it turns out, the mornings really are my favorite time of day.