How to Stop Breaking Promises to Yourself

Summer stock season is coming to a close, and you know what that means…

Time to take stock of your choices.

(And yes, I took stock of my decision to make that joke and I REGRET NOTHING!!!)


How did this summer go for you?

Were you the productivity monster you told yourself you’d be?!

Did you clean your room, update your audition book, take 3 dance classes a week, eliminate gluten from your diet, update your website, hit the gym every morning,  finish the “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” practice guitar everyday, read 20 new plays, reconcile with your father, and quit your day job?!

Did you?!??!


Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh, me neither.

But let’s be real, that is an unreasonable list! If those are your goals, you are setting yourself up for failure.

This is one of the traps I see my clients falling into all the time.

Let me know if this pattern sounds familiar:

  1. An events spurs you to action and jump starts your motivation (i.e. New Year’s, Audition Season, returning to school).
  2. You make a plan. There is a list of goals. It is long. It is color-coded. You may buy a new planner or journal for this very purpose. You will not deviate. You have time set aside in your calendar for all the activities you’re going to. Setting goals feel UNBELIEVABLE. You can’t believe you didn’t do this earlier! This is what your new life looks like. It is going to be BOMB.
  3. YOU CRUSH IT.  You are one week in and you are LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. Your Instagram feed has never been more envy-provoking. You can’t believe just a week ago you were the kind of person who wasn’t on top of her shit! Who was that girl?? You feel sorry for her. What a mess she was… This is what being an adult must feel like. You consider opening a 401K. This is your life now. It will always be this way.
  4. Life Happens.  Your sister’s getting married on the 14th, which means you have to fly out on Tuesday, which means you can only get to dance once this week, which totally sucks, but, oh wait, you can’t actually make that class either because that’s the only time you can get a Geek Squad appointment because your computer broke last week, which is why you haven’t made any headway on your website this week, oh yeah, and now is probably not the best time to quit your day job because weddings are EXPENSIVE and you know this computer thing isn’t going to be cheap, so I guess the whole life plan has to go on hold for the week, but you’ll definitely be back on track once you get back from California so it’s all okay. Right?
  5. It’s impossible to get back on track. Now that you’ve fallen off the wagon it feels impossible to get back on. It’s too depressing to only cross half the items off your to-do list. Better to just not look at the planner…
  6. You’re a failure. It’s 3 months later, and you realize you haven’t accomplished any of your goals for the summer. You failed. And perhaps even worse, you lied to yourself. How can you ever trust yourself to accomplish a goal again? You are a failure who can’t trust yourself. This feels like shit. This is what happens when you set goals…
  7. Return to step 1.

I, of course, have NEVER done this, because I’m incredibly self-actualized and have never struggled with issues of perfectionism or self-worth.

*clears throat conspicuously*

Did you buy that?

Yeeeaaaaahhhhh, me neither.

I guess I’ll level with you then. This definitely used to be my style of goal-setting. And as many of you readers can probably tell, not only is it a painful way to go about setting goals, it’s also INCREDIBLY ineffective.

Each time you set unrealistic goals for yourself not only are you doomed to fail, you’re also doomed to erode away your own self-trust.

And guess what personality trait is particularly important in achieving goals?



This, my friends, is what we call a vicious cycle.

The good news is, there is a way to break the loop!

As you wave goodbye to summer and feel that little bump of back to school motivation I DARE you to make a promise you can keep.

Not a list of promises. Just one.

In fact, the smaller the better.

Promise yourself you will floss every night this week.

Rebuild trust with yourself one small promise at a time.

The more you prove to yourself that you can be trusted to keep your word, the bigger the goals can become.

And let me tell you, I’ve got some BIG goals for this coming year.

Big goals that I’m hoping many of my readers will join me for…

That’s why I need you to take that one step this week!

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Make a promise to yourself and keep it.

Report back on how you did in the comments tune back in soon for your next assignment for your next assignment!


Sara Glancy is an NYC actor and the founder of Audition Rep Matchmaker, a service that helps match actors with the audition materials that will book them jobs.

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Originally published on on April 22, 2016. Updated Nov 2018.  Photo by Jessica Osber.

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