This practice was developed for the Fetzer Institute by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, directors of SpiritualityandPractice.com.
In It's a Meaningful Life: It Just Takes Practice, Bo Lozoff shares a slogan used in his community: "You can do hard." Lozoff, the cofounder of the Human Kindness Foundation and its award-winning Prison Ashram Project, explains that in our times saying something is "too hard" allows us to give up without trying. By using the slogan we remind ourselves of our potential service: "We need not run away in fear just because something is greatly challenging," Lozoff says. "It might be daunting, but we can do daunting. It might even be scary, be we can do scary."
It helps if you reinforce your desire to do something that is difficult with a concrete practice. Making a vow in front of others is one way to give some importance and momentum to your efforts.
Here are some recommended steps to vow-making:
- Before making a vow, spend time in reflection or prayer about what you want to do.
- Share this process with your partner, a good friend, your pastor, teacher, or spiritual director. Openly expressing your plans reinforces them.
- Write your vow or promise down. Be very specific. You may want to start with a short-term plan.
- Finally, state your vow publicly before friends, family, or community. There is real power in making commitments before others. You promise to uphold your vow, and those present make a commitment to support you.
- Once you have made a vow, repeat it to yourself every morning. This practice reinforces your intention and also gives you proof positive that you can do hard.