3 Ways to Keep a Promise (And Why You Need To)


Standing by a commitment can have a powerful effect that reaches far beyond any one person. Alex Sheen, the founder of the non-profit Because I Said I Would, shares how anyone can be better at keeping commitments.

We hope for miracle cures and technological advances to help our patients, and our world, but what if the world could be a better, healthier place just by keeping a promise?

For a periop professional, a promise has the potential to go a long way. What if you promised to stay up on best practices, or mentor the new generation of perioperative nurses? Or what if you just promised to get a good night’s sleep the day before surgery?

Imagine the ripple effects one promise could create. Imagine the human impact.

So, as we move into the busy holiday season filled with good intentions, but often, competing schedules and priorities, we turned to promise expert Alex Sheen for some advice and insight.

Sheen knows the impact one promise can make thanks to a nonprofit he founded called, Because I Said I Would. To lead by example, Sheen has made and kept many promises, including: volunteering each week at 52 different charities for a year, raising money for tickets to send kids suffering from cancer to Disneyland, and even walking across the state of Ohio to raise awareness and help victims of violent crime. He’s also inspired countless others across the globe to make and keep promises of their own. Since 2012, the organization has distributed over 13.6 million Promise Cards to 178 countries to fuel this social movement. 

But how can one person keeping a promise really make a difference on a global scale?

Sheen says, “small promises stack up for the betterment of humanity.” For example, what if everyone kept the promises they’ve made to themselves to be better, happier people by going to the gym or eating healthier? And what if these small promises became bigger promises like volunteering in the community?

He said he believes “we have a lot of solutions right in our hand, and all we have to do is make a fist and have the resiliency to follow through to keep the promises we make.”

Here are a few important ways Sheen suggests that will help anyone get better at holding to promises they made:

  1. Let Go of Guilt

To nurses who battle guilt for not doing enough for those in need, Sheen says, “I’m with you. The range of sorrow that the supporters from our charity experience can be overwhelming, and I battle guilt for not doing enough.”

Sheen says he must remind himself that every promise kept changes someone’s life.

“When you make a commitment, the world starts lining up around that commitment.”

  1. Reserve Time

Most people overcommit and then set themselves up for failure because they try to “make time,” which is impossible, Sheen stresses. “Time is finite, it cannot be made. You can only reserve time and protect it by saying ‘no’ to other things so you can focus on the commitments that hold value for you.”

He does this by calendaring everything— allotting time to exercise, time to sleep, and even time to calendar. “You might think a booked schedule creates anxiety, but it helps me see how many hours a day I DO have, so I can spot overlaps and scheduling conflicts before they happen and build in time to keep promises I have made.”

  1. Schedule Basic Self-Care

Having the grit to dig in and help others when you are feeling worn thin is part of being a generous human being, but burnout is a reality for those who give of themselves, Sheen admits. That’s why he recommends making time for basic self-care.

“I will never feel guilty for getting enough sleep, making time to exercise, and finding a decent meal for myself to eat right—if I can do those things, I will have the energy to serve others.”

Win a meet-and-greet with Sheen during AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2023. Sheen will take the main stage April 2 in San Antonio, TX. Use promo code PROMISE when registering to be entered into the drawing. Drawing will be held Dec. 19, 2022.