The 4 Promises That Keep People Successful

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.

Awesome photography by Lightstock.

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72 Responses

  1. 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

  2. Good one! 🙂
    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”?

    1. 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.

  3. 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?

      1. 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…

        1. 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. 🙂

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. “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!!!

  8. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  9. 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 🙂
    Thanks Dale.

  10. I know exactly what you are talking about. Some days I think it´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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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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