In Hebrew, the word “Adam” can be translated to “remember”. If you know much about the Old Testament and the relationship between God and the Jews, you understand the importance of this.

Humans are forgetful.

Over the past 12 years, I have fallen apart twice. I'm talking straight broken pieces everywhere. Panic attacks, insomnia, worry, heart palpitations, dizzy spells, intestinal issues, just to name a few.

I have a way of forgetting what behaviors keeps me successful. And shockingly, I know exactly what they are, I know how to perform them, and I even know when I'm not doing them.

It looks something like this: Life is good, I'm happy and my relationships and work life are balanced and healthy. I have behavioral boundaries in place and life success is high.

But then I cross the line. I forget the promises which kept me on the path of successful living. I'm fooled by the pursuit of more.

I begin to believe I can have everything, without giving up anything.

Then life begins to spiral. My rhythm is lost and everything starts shifting. I'm going to bed late, I'm ignoring my wife, I'm forgetting to pray, I'm eating poorly, and I'm drinking beer at night just to relax.

Then like a thief in the night, the mayhem sets in. A list of physical and emotional consequences as a result of my lack of personal discipline. And the illusion of “having it all” unveils its nasty truth.

Smack! I hit the floor. Pain, brokenness, and a wounded heart. This stark slap in the face quickly reminds me of my forgotten boundaries and I'm forced to either restore my once sustaining promises, or live life in this new pain. It looks something like this.


The cost? About one year of low-level productivity, damaged relationships and over a 1000 hours of lost time.

Interestingly, I find this true for most fanatically driven people. Their greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. Our extreme passion can both change the world and ruin our lives. It can build great companies and destroy great relationships. It can produce incredible art or writing or products and it can also steal our ability to create.

And then there's the wisdom.

We can only do so much in the time we have. In our pursuit of more we often confuse bigger with better. But true success is discipline and consistency. The ability to place a process between opportunity and decision. To recognize that the things we are most passionate about need limits as well.

It's been 3 years since my last fall. I attribute this to my willingness to look at the root of my issue. I'm an extremist. I let my passions bleed over the edges of my life until it drowns everything else. And without firm personal promises and boundaries, I fall into unhealthy life patterns.

Passionate people require these unshakable promises. It's a form of insurance for their life. It's these vows that are the formula for a sustainable future, family and the ability to achieve even more. This is the secret for true success.

Below, I have outlined the four promises for my life balance in hopes to help you define yours.

Approximate Number of Hours Per Week: 4-7 hours
Connecting with God reminds me my work has purpose. It's these important moments of daily prayer and reading which provide me a foundation of confidence and wisdom. Without these important hours, I begin to lose perspective and believe that life is less about a larger purpose and more about me and my personal desires.

Approximate Number of Hours Per Week: 21-30 hours
I often think of the quotes of people on their death bed. Nobody ever wishes they worked more. Rather, it's a regret of not spending more time with loved ones. When I put my family before my work, it reminds me where true satisfaction is born. Success without family and the connection with the people you love is lonely, selfish, and unfulfilling.

Approximate Number of Hours Per Week: 4-8 hours
Without our health, we are nothing. Sadly in our pursuit of success, exercise and healthy eating fall to the wayside. For me, I've made small commitments in this department to keep my body productive. I've committed to walking 5-7 miles per week, juicing vegetables for 10 meals per month, and stretching for 5 minutes each morning. While these small vows will never develop me into a performance athlete, they give me the endurance to focus on my dreams.

Approximate Number of Hours Per Week: 10-21 hours
My Grandmother once told me, “don't get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” The problem for passionate people occurs when their passion is their living. Work becomes fun and everything else makes its way to the backdrop of life. By building freedom into my routine, it offers me the creative break I need to perform at my peak. It allows margin in my life to gain perspective and it also helps me achieve my other three promises.

What promises or vows or boundaries keep you successful? How often do you forget them? What happens? Let me know in the comments below.

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72 thoughts on “The 4 Promises That Keep People Successful

      • Timoth says:

        Dale,that figure is relevant to my life i was in forgetting promises zone but i began to restore my promises/vows and i can see my progress towards keeping promises zone.My major/main vow is Faith in God.Thank Bro.

  1. Henry says:

    Thanks for this post. I am developing my personal plan for 2015 and these 4 promises will be very useful in the development of an effective plan.

  2. Antonia Zicovich says:

    Your article is so pertinent these days. Even church groups expect the young people to pull all-nighters for youth rallys, 3 day fasts for hunger??? Teaching really bad habits to kids! We ALL need 91/2 hours sleep, 3 meals (more if active) exercise, family life, spiritual life, social life, meaningful work and occasional vacations of some sort. Why would anyone deny themselves that if they knew the consequences to their loved ones when they crashed? But the present culture is pushing against this.

  3. Florine says:

    Thanks Dale for your openness. I am amazed at the time you can set aside for exercise and freedom. Yet on reflection I can see they are important. One of my goals this year was to change some of my habits that were not really helping me to achieve much. I have factored in more reflective reading and here is where your regularity is so helpful and stimulating. Now I need to think of exercise and freedom. For me when I lose sleep over a sustained period I see the break coming but sometimes I seem powerless to do anything about it. I praise God that He has put others in my life to help me build it up. thanks for consistency.

  4. Lulu says:

    Great timing Dale. I have just partnered with a good friend to keep a check on each other as we commit to taking care of ourselves. She lives in another country!!! One thing we added to our journal – noting our emotions and why we think we did not exercise or go for that glass of wine to relax, etc. This way we can get a better understanding on what derails us and the progression in our lives as we stick to our ’50’ plan – yes…50. Quite a number to reach in life – grateful but reality is, we will not live another 50 years. Better get busy living and staying healthy is top priority!

  5. OriginalTricks . says:

    I think what keeps people successful is that sense of urgency, without it desire looses its value. The security of knowing there is something else you can hold on to when you fail, is actually a curse.. it’s better to get rid of it, as crazy as that sounds.

  6. Erin says:

    I have fallen into this trap a couple times! It’s amazing how I read your article today, because I was just thinking about how I’ve cut out exercise, time with God, and freedom to grow my business. When in fact, I’m going to be so much more productive in business if I keep these healthy goals. Thanks for the reminder. God bless!

  7. David Ramos says:

    I wish I had read this a year ago! I can totally identify with everything you said here. Last year I pushed myself to the point I had to be hospitalized – a 24 year old with 2 ulcers – somethings wrong there.

    I actually found your blog a couple months after that. I can’t remember what the first post I read was, but I saw that in a way you had been where I had, and you were miles in front in the direction I wanted to go.

    I think the promise I made myself this year has been to constantly seek influence from people like you – entrepreneurs and positive people who are living the life I know is possible. My family, coworkers, even church people are send a different message and I’ve had to shut most of them out because I want something different for my life and for my family.

    Thanks Dale.

  8. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for sharing so personally. And that’s it – when what you do is also your passion, it is so important to keep perspective of everything!

  9. Aretha Freire says:

    Hi! Honestly I haven’t find success yet, I’ve been lost for a while… The only thing a have now is hope, but the words are really helpfull

  10. Zechariah Newman says:

    The things that keep me successful are very similar to yours. I need to add freedom into mine for sure, thank you. The onlything I would add, but you probably do this with the free time is friends. I meet with friends for at least two hours a week.

  11. IEduk8 says:

    Work – life balance is so important and I am learning that in the last few years after returning back to work. I spent so much time trying to prove myself at work to others that it was at the expense of many things. Last year was the last time both my kids would be home before leaving for college. I made them a priority – I made myself present for them. I don’t regret one minute in doing so, I just wish I had done it sooner because I missed out on a lot these last 7 years.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      yeah you’re right, it’s definitely a tough balance! And something we have to work at every day. I’m glad to hear you have no regrets though, because regrets don’t do any good. All you can do is learn and move forward. πŸ™‚

  12. Oriana Leo says:

    Thank you Dale! I also go through these cycles, although with dedicated reflection on my values I am getting better. The goal is to increase the time between relapses until they just don’t happen. The Artist’s Way is helping me do this.

      • Hoo Kang says:

        My apologies. Is freedom your version for work? Typically, I’ve heard – faith, family, fitness, and finances. Do you have any guidelines for work?

  13. Sean A. Metcalf says:

    These are great fundamentals to turn to. It’s hard sometimes to remind yourself of the importance of balance (though we easily recognize when things are out of whack). Thanks for this, Dale!

  14. Russ Dixon says:

    Dale, thank you so much! This article was a great affirmation for me, and where I’ve been for a while. As you said in the article, I know when I’m out of balance. I even know what I should be doing. Like you, I occasionally find myself dysfunctional because I’m out of balance.
    Part of your article was a perfect description of where I’ve been: “My rhythm is lost and everything starts shifting. I’m going to bed late, I’m ignoring my wife, I’m forgetting to pray, I’m eating poorly, and I’m drinking beer at night just to relax.”

    Thanks again
    You’re much appreciated

  15. Marian says:

    Good one! πŸ™‚
    but i still have a question. can you develop a little bit more what you want to say here: “believe that life is less about a larger purpose and more about me and my personal desires”?

    • Dale Partridge says:

      We are a very self-centered culture, and everything we do is to make ourselves happy, do what feels good… we are not concerned with others and their stories and their wellbeing. We need to become others-focused. We are here to connect and do life with each other.

  16. GeriNunes says:

    Awersome article, will do the exercice of framing things that way for myself as well.
    to clarify and that’s very important, what do you include within freedom. obviously everything else, but what are major things which get in that category over and over again?

      • GeriNunes says:

        Hi Dale

        thx for anwering. What I mean is what are the important things that you do in freedom time over and over again?

        Here some examples of what that could be for all kind of people: riding a motor cycle, watching sports, going to a concert, inviting friends over, visiting friends, going to events like fairs etc, nightlife etc

        It might sound like a silly question but I think there is more to it. I remember when I was younger, that freedom time was a lot going out starting thursday, than when the schedule became very busy it all of the sudden became surfing the web and watching movies online.

        What I realized for myself is that the quality of freedom time matters a lot and there is something to be said about your default options and taking the time to actually plan and schedule them (Tim Ferriss for instance says that if he has no plans for the weekend by tuesday he drops everything and gets that handled).

        Watched your video on people over profit by the way. Will send it to some socialist friends who think government is the messias…

        • Dale Partridge says:

          I see. I pray, spend time with my family (usually by being outdoors, since we live in a beautiful town), enjoy a good beer and a good meal, and hang out with quality friends. Those things all keep me sane. πŸ™‚

  17. Ty Yamaguchi says:

    Thanks for the reminders, Dale! I try to keep my weekends free to work on side projects and play with my family.

  18. NE says:

    Wow. This is so applicable and wise. My passion many times bleeds into extremism. I think committing to a few promises such as the ones you listed will keep me balanced. Discipline + consistencies pave the road between dreams and goals. God bless you and your family Dale!

  19. LadyofSoul says:

    This is so spot on Dale. In the busy-ness of life we often forget to create balance which is not an equal measure of all things, but the right measures of everything. Great reminder.

  20. Remi Zagari says:

    “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”

    Proverbs 16:3.
    Thank you so much for your helping words! God Bless!!!

  21. Jessica says:

    Really enjoy your posts!

    I’ve been working so hard to succeed at my corporate job that everything else is getting pushed aside. Good thing is I’m learning a lot. Bad thing I am making slave wages and barely holding on. Car is breaking down and I can’t afford a new one. Working 10 hour days and commuting 2 hours a day, not happy living in Los Angeles. Feel like I don’t have to option to make time for exercise and my loved ones. My eyes are ever on the lord and ultimately I know everything will be okay. Not living the dream right now and keep pushing myself harder to succeed. Really want some good change in my life but feeling so stuck. Is it time to take a risk and leave my job and try something new?

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Leaps of faith are important and amazing when they are God-led, but it sounds like you need to start small right where you are. Find a mentor, start reading. Learn how to become disciplined in doing smaller things or you never will be able to be disciplined in the larger things. If you don’t have a family you can search for a job/opportunity outside of LA, and if you land one then you can move there and kind of start over. But my advice is to start simple right where you are. It’s not going to be easy, just know that going into it. But you can do it.

      • Jessica says:

        Thanks for the great advice and encouragement! I definately need to focus on the small steps I can take now. In the meantime, I am also planning for a future move out of LA, especially after reading your “7 Signs of a Healthy City for your Family.” Could not agree with you more about the “pain body” here. No family so already searching for opportunities elsewhere. Staying positive!

  22. Tanya Tanjaka says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I could relate to the unhealthy consequences of losing sight of how I want to live.. and many of the principles that are unwavering for you.
    I’m inspired to be more deliberate in times spent on these commitments. I too can attest to the goodness of God.. seek Him first and everything else (we need) will be added to our lives πŸ™‚
    Thanks Dale.

  23. Sabrina says:

    I know exactly what you are talking about. Some days I think itΒ΄s a blessing to passionately chasing my dreams and it feels like a betrayal every time I stop doing it (e.g. for family, friends, sports…) I know that ignoring my family or stop doing sports is not the way of living a life in balance so sometimes I really have to force myself to do other things than work. I even feel better after meeting friends or doing sports so why do I have to force myself?

  24. Nikita says:

    When I forget to journal for at least 45 minutes a day, things tend to muddle in my brain.
    Meditating for 15-30 minutes daily keeps me confident in my spiritual self-sufficiency. I think the key is meditate on respect for others. And prayer/reading the bible have come into that but I start to wonder if it is dangerous to escape into religion by doing all three, for such a large chunk of time. Then I remember that I am working for a future (society, partner, body of creative work) and reflection of this sort is integral to accepting my child-like self.
    Promising to connect with family is a difficult promise to keep, but I appreciate your comments about it.
    Playing music for 7-8 hours a week is about to become a serious priority, as well as spending at least 3 hours a week with nature.

  25. Christie | Uncork says:

    Dale, thanks for your insight. This is the story of my life and I know many others’ lives as well. I created my business to help women focus on their own well-being, and now I need to create a schedule for myself so that I remain well and continue to foster my personal relationships.

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