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What To Do When You Break A Commitment With Yourself

Last night I went to bed at around 11pm without having fulfilled on a recent commitment I made to write for 1 hour a day. My justification was, “I’m too tired. I didn’t realize I’d work so late.”

I woke up a few hours later at around 2am feeling bad about not following through and decided to get myself out of bed and do it. It wasn’t too late!

As I sat on my couch in the pitch black with only the glow of my laptop for light, I reflected on why I almost backed out of my commitment.

I thought back on other challenges I’d done. I wrote a song every day for 30 days just over a year ago without missing a day! So, where was that same audacity for follow-through?

I remembered another challenge I did after my song challenge to run 2 miles every day for 30 days. For a reason I can’t even remember, I didn’t finish. Then there was another, where I committed to reading ten books in one month, which, long story short, I failed!

I noticed that my two unfulfilled challenges, after a very successful challenge, were subconsciously eating away at what I thought about myself. Without acknowledging it, there was a voice in my head saying I couldn’t keep my word. I hadn’t dealt with it, so now it was affecting my ability to follow through on new commitments.


So, I did some self-coaching.

Here’s what to do when you’ve broken a commitment with yourself.

  1. Acknowledge it. I acknowledge I have failed two challenges. I’m not going to try to forget it without acknowledging it, otherwise it will lurk and diminish my confidence.
  2. Identify the impact it made on you. The impact on me was it decreased my confidence in what I feel I’m capable of doing. Since I broke my word to myself two times, I fear I’ll break my word to myself…three times! And four times!
  3. Identify the impact on others. My first challenge was private, so the impact on others was indirect. The second challenge was public, and I never provided an update at the end of the month. Certain people may have been left wondering if I succeeded. A few people asked, and I bore the bad news. If anything, it was like false inspiration.
  4. Create a new promise. My new promise is to fulfill on my current challenge of writing for 1 hour every weekday, shortly after waking up, once I’ve read some inspirational content.
  5. Determine what could get in the way. The residual build-up of lack of confidence from failing my last two challenges might get in the way. I’ve dealt with that by acknowledging it and creating a new challenge to rebuild my confidence. I may also stay up too late and be tired and only want to wake up in time for my first coaching call rather than making time for reading and writing. The way out of this is to tell myself I can have a nap later and to just get it done first-thing when I’m sharpest.
  6. Get an accountability buddy. Wow! This makes all the difference. It’s the reason I’m even writing this blog. How great is it to receive a few words of encouragement in weak moments! This morning I got: “Morning Rosanna! Wake up and start writing xo”


Now, what about you? Do you ever make specific commitments to yourself – like, challenges? What’s your follow-through like? Have you observed your inner dialogue? Do you need to acknowledge some broken commitments from the past and start fresh today?

Share in the comments below!

1 Comment
  • Sarah-Jeanne
    Posted at 10:22h, 08 January Reply

    Ahh, commitments! I’ve broken many. For a few years, I’ve read (and logged!) 50 books a year. Then, I didn’t for a year. And for another year. I really thought about it, to come to the conclusion that reading wasn’t as much my thing as it used to be. I still like to read, and the Salon du livre de Montréal is still an event I attend every year. But my life has changed : instead of going to university and commuting everyday, I have my grownup job, not longer live with my parents (which means I have to do alllll the chores around here!), and spend less time in public transportation. I also developed new interests, which takes time and gives me less time to read. That is why I quitted. And once I came to that realization, it was a lot easier to stop beating myself about it. Finding the “why” afterwards really does help, and next time I break a commitment, that’s what I’ll ask myself : did you make this commitment only because you’ve done it in the past? Does this challenge still meet your current interests? It is okay to change!

    On January 3rd, I joined a challenge called #100DaysOfCode (computer coding that is!). I’ve publicly committed to my Twitter followers (and a few friends) that I would be coding an hour a day — not work related! — for 100 days. Today’s day 06, I just sat at my computer, ready to code. It’s not always going to be easy. But I feel like knowing people KNOW about it will give me the extra push to do it on days where I don’t feel like doing it. Are RT’s and likes an external source of motivation? Yes. Shouldn’t I be able to do it without it? Probably. But 100 days is a long time, and there are going to be some days where I’ll need some discipline to wake up an hour early to code because I have something planed for the evening.

    This new challenge suits both my needs and my current interests : I’ve recently switched from the tech support position to the development team at work, so my computer skills are important for my daily tasks. I also want to improve those stills to maybe eventually land an actual computer developer/programmer job. I have Internet buddies to keep me motivated, (I tweet daily about my progress!) and I know my boss-friend will be proud of me. And so will I 🙂

    My main motivation is still that I’m curious of how much I’ll have accomplished in three months from now! Woop!

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