Personal Development: Turn Resolutions Into Promises


In the first of two articles about keeping your resolutions, Matthew Cossolotto offers valuable advice.

It’s February 2020.  Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions are?  Have you already abandoned them, just like last year and the years before that? Millions of well-intentioned people around the world – perhaps including you – kicked off 2020 by making a few New Year’s resolutions. This well-meaning, but frequently futile, annual ritual inspired American actress and director Joey Lauren Adams to compose the following tongue-in- cheek blessing: “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”

Let’s face it: New Year’s resolutions are notoriously short-lived and ineffective. They simply don’t work. Various surveys over the years have shown that most resolutions are abandoned before the end of January. Now that we’ve turned the calendar to February, just about all New Year’s resolutions have already been left by the wayside.

Don’t give up! I’m here to offer a way for you to resurrect your resolutions. But first you have to understand something about resolutions. They are inherently flawed and feeble as a way of changing habits and behaviour. Why? For one thing, the word ‘resolution’ itself is weak. And words are important. Resolution has no inherent power. It’s a word that begs to be ignored. It feels ‘non- binding’ the moment the word passes our lips. Members of legislative bodies pass so-called non-binding resolutions all the time, and this sense of verbal frailty seeps into the collective unconscious. I suggest you purge the term New Year’s resolution from your vocabulary.

My advice for 2020 is to turn your New Year’s resolutions – whether you’ve already abandoned them or not – into New Year’s promises. A promise is much more powerful than either a resolution or a goal. That’s why I created the GPS Success System: Goals into Promises = Success. GPS.

A promise is like a goal or resolution on steroids. It comes from the heart, whereas goals and resolutions are much more cerebral. If you use the two magic words
— I promise — you will feel a much stronger emotional commitment to your top objectives for the year. By making a heartfelt promise — to yourself or to someone you care about — you will hold yourself accountable. Your integrity will be on the line. You’ll have some emotional skin in the game.

My promise to my mother on her deathbed I have experienced the power of making a promise first-hand. I made a promise to my mother on her deathbed that I would finish writing a book she had been encouraging me to write and dedicate it to her memory. Her face lit up and she said: “You do that, Matthew. You do that.” I knew right away that failure was not an option, that I had crossed the proverbial Rubicon. There was no turning back or making excuses any more. I had to keep my word. At that moment, what had been simply a casual idea or a vague goal was transformed into a magnificent, heart- powered mission. I’m proud to say I kept that promise. The resulting book is called HabitForce!, published with the following dedication: “In loving memory of my mother…”

I did it, Mom! Finally. I can honestly say that this book would never have been completed had I not made that promise to you at home in Gasquet, California, a few weeks before you passed away. This vividly demonstrates the power of making a promise, especially to your mother! In the spirit of that dedication, my mission is to spread the power of making a promise to millions of people around the world. I sum up my message in four simple, mantra-like statements: Make a promise. Keep your word. Change your life. Transform the world.

My forthcoming book – titled The Power of a Promise – includes a foreword by Jack Canfield, co-creator of the mega-best- selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Here’s an excerpt from Jack Canfield’s uplifting foreword: “When Matthew first told me about the heartfelt promise he made to his mother… I was hooked. You could say he had me at ‘I promise.’

There was something very attractive, almost magnetic, about this concept. And I say that as somebody who has been intimately involved in the personal development field for many years. I’ve seen and heard just about everything… With a promise your heart and emotions are fully engaged. Because of this, a promise is what I call a personal empowerment ‘twofer.’ It combines The Power of Intention with The Law of Attraction.”