Have you ever made that promise to yourself that “tomorrow, I am going to be more ….. (fill in the blank) with the following possibilities: organized, focused on my tasks, complete my follow-up calls, diligent about going to the gym, eat better foods, and many more quasi-commitments.

Have you ever started a routine that made sense, was good for you, had plenty of benefits, and then stopped doing it a few days later? Why did you stop?

Exactly what stops us from following through on our well-intended promises to ourselves?

Why do we let ourselves get away with creating the intention and then not doing the action?

Because.

It is easy not to. It is easy to dismiss “shadow” consequences.

It is hard to be consistent with a routine, even one that serves us.

Both of these situations, the first one being the “next day, I will do” and the second one being the “let’s start this routine and easily drop it” provides us insight as to our patterns and behaviors. If we do this frequently, then likely our trust in ourselves is low. It is time to make needed changes.

As a coach to women who are interested in improving their productivity, I frequently ask the following questions:

  • what do they do with their time now
  • what is their belief system about how to structure tasks in their calendar
  • how accountable are they to themselves for getting things done
  • what system do they use to track activities, appointments, etc.

The responses are all over the board on how they go about planning their day. What I see occurring most frequently is numerous To Do Lists and little to nothing committed to the calendar.

My first “Aha moment” was: this is exactly WHY we have intentions (the lists) but not the committed implementation time (on the calendar).

The second “Aha moment” was that when I asked these clients, “how long does it take you to do this specific task on your To Do List”, the answer was always vague. This revelation meant that we have intention to get things done, but we have no idea much time it will take, which contributes to why it is not assigned dedicated time on the calendar.

So, what is a “shadow consequence”? It starts with a task that needs to be done that has no firm deadline or no detriment if not done. Only you know that you put on your list and didn’t do it. The next day, you added to your To Do List again and yet did not do it. And again, the next day, you added it to your To Do List, but still no action.

No one knows but you.

The third “Aha moment” has now arrived. If you have move a certain task more than three days without completing the task and having the intention to complete it, then it is time to say STOP. It is now time to ask yourself: “why am I not doing this task”? What is the resistance to it?

Enter the three step solution of following through on the promises to yourself:

1. Think long and hard about your promises and intentions you make to yourself on your future actions. Be aware if you really have the time to do this task.

2. Choose firmly that you will do this task; determine the length of time; commit it to a specific day and time on your calendar.

3. Ask yourself “what will I lose if I do not do this task as planned”? Understand the true consequence. If it is a big consequence, immediately seek out an accountability partner on this one task. Do not let yourself off the hook.

Honor yourself on a consistent basis by keeping your intentions and actions aligned. By so doing, you will trust yourself to get more things done and have greater personal satisfaction.