Earlier this week, I had a sort of heavy conversation with my wife, Briana. We were both feeling like we have more going on than we can handle. I was also feeling like there were things I was supposed to be remembering and managing, but I had lost track of them. And Briana was feeling like she was doing more than her fair share of organizing family activities.
As I tried to grasp it all, release my defensiveness, and come to a mature solution, I realized I had been feeling scattered and evasive, like I was hiding from someone’s scrutiny. Then it hit me: I’ve been in an agreement breakdown.
When we aren’t keeping our agreements with ourselves and others, lots of things fall apart. We become evasive because we feel guilty, and this can lead to a cascade of broken agreements. Things pile up, we get scattered, life feels overwhelming, we feel crappy.
The breakdown is essentially a lapse of integrity with our word. It can be uncomfortable to get back on track, but when we begin cleaning it up we immediately feel better.
I took out my Dreambook. We dissected and scheduled all my projects. And even though I have a lot of work to do, I know that as soon as I honor these agreements life will begin to flow smoothly again.
Like everyone, we’ve had plenty of agreement breakdowns, so we’ve learned to recognize the symptoms. It’s probably the most common hurdle we encounter with our clients and the students in our coaching program. When someone asks, “Why do I feel so [crappy / unproductive / distracted / overwhelmed / stressed]?” a lapse of integrity may not be the sole cause, but it’s almost always part of the problem.
Creating the Dreambook was our solution.
One of our teachers, Matt Garrigan, used to say, “When you keep your agreements, your life works,” and we’ve come back to these words over and over. When you consistently keep your agreements – with others and yourself – you demonstrate reverence for the power of your word (you “walk your talk”) – and this leads to momentum and magic.
This entails first getting clear about what your agreements are. Whether you use the Dreambook, a journal, a scrap of paper, or a notes app, writing them down relieves you of the burden of tracking them all in your mind. Seeing your agreements in black and white also makes it easier to grasp them, and it helps ensure that you’ll recognize (and celebrate) their completion, building trust in yourself in the process.
Getting clear about your agreements also entails recognizing that:
- You matter
- Your word has power
- Trust is valuable
When you break agreements with others, they lose trust in you and you lose trust in you. When you break agreements with yourself, you lose trust in yourself. A lack of trust in yourself can have broad repercussions. If you don’t trust yourself, you’ll undermine your own efforts. You won’t dream big. You won’t live to your potential. And you’ll be more prone to depression and anxiety.
When you break an agreement, you probably feel a certain sense of instability, heaviness, distraction, shame, guilt, or blockage. It may be very subtle, especially if you’re a serial agreement breaker (what’s one more broken agreement?). But with practice, you’ll learn to recognize this feeling and can readily find the broken agreement at its root. When you’re operating with integrity for a while, the broken agreement feeling is usually quite glaring.
When you discover that you’ve broken an agreement, you have the opportunity to clean it up. This means doing whatever it takes return to a place of harmony, to satisfy your obligations, and to restore trust in yourself. Ideally, you’ll avoid breaking agreements in the future by being conscious about the agreements you make – not making any agreements that will be difficult to keep.
Over time, it feels so good to be clean, light, and efficient in this way that you’ll never want to live any other way. This demonstration of integrity is also inspiring to others – they may ask you how you get so much done, or how you seem to have it all.
With the Dreambook, we wanted to create a structure that supports users to track their agreements. And to take it further, we wanted to push people to start stretching as conscious creators. When you begin to trust yourself to always do what you say you’ll do, you can begin adding agreements that cause you to grow. Agreements that serve your highest values and dreams. Agreements that make the world a better place for yourself and others. It all begins with your word.
How’s your relationship with agreements? Are they holding you back or catapulting you forward? Do you trust yourself to do what you say you’ll do? Share your experience with the community below.