Setting Goals and Keeping Promises

This is an excerpt from Conscious Men, written by John Gray and Arjuna Ardagh.


The Conscious Man learns to balance his masculine and feminine sides, which allows him to have awareness of his higher purpose in life in a way that is also sensitive to the changing environment in which he is moving. He is aware of his emotions, but he also maintains the ability to do the right thing, even when he is afraid. He may set a goal and later realize that it was not a good goal if the promise no longer serves him or anyone else. Then, through his feeling and intuition, he can adjust his course, set new goals, and make new promises based on new information.

For example, in the past, many people stuck it out in marriages long after they were only causing everyone to suffer. Men stayed in jobs they hated because they were tough men. An overly feminized man might move from partner to partner, seeking out new pleasurable romantic feelings, or move from one job to another in following his bliss. A Conscious Man can make these promises intelligently: he can ride the ups and downs of marriage and face the trials and defeats of his job, but he also knows when to quit in the service of everyone’s wellbeing.

Making short-term promises, to himself and to others, that are in alignment with his long-term vision is incredibly important for a Conscious Man to stay healthy. He can push through difficulties and challenges because of adequate levels of testosterone in his blood. When he reaches a milestone, which can be something small and easily achieved, he gets to cross a small item off a list. Then he has the feeling, “I solved that problem.” Success. This sense of “mission accomplished” causes a release of dopamine: he feels good about himself; he feels that he can trust himself. It also causes a spike in serotonin, which is a pleasurable brain chemical giving him the feeling that he has the right to relax.

Every time he reaches a small milestone in this way and checks a box, not only does he experience pleasurable brain chemistry, but it also creates the perfect environment to replenish testosterone. Only if he has fully exhausted his testosterone levels will his body be able to rebuild testosterone through relaxation. He needs the frequent experiences of pushing through challenging obstacles, being successful, feeling good about himself, and thus earning the right to relax and rest. This creates a positive loop, causing a man to feel better and better about himself and to be more and more confident in his ability to create results.

Just for the record, it is not the same for a woman. She can achieve a lot in her day, but she will not get the same sense of accomplishment and release because she does not run on testosterone in the same way. Women do make and keep promises, but generally, they do so to deepen and improve their relationships with other people. This is why women experience much higher levels of stress in work environments that were designed by men. The entire environment has been created to accommodate a man’s way of pushing through and then relaxing.

By making short-term doable promises and sticking to them, a man experiences greatness and strength. It activates the part of the brain that is called the “reticular activating system” that keeps him focused on what he needs to do to achieve his goals. When he makes a solemn promise, “I will do this; I promise to do this,” it activates him to follow through as well as to get the support that he needs.

All of these stages are needed for a man to feel good about himself. He has long-term goals and visions. He sets very short-term milestones that he can achieve, hopefully on the same day that he set them. By achieving these short-term goals, one by one, he then feels he has earned the right to relax and rest so he can get ready to achieve the next milestone.


From Conscious Men by John Gray and Arjuna Ardagh. You can order a paperback copy or Kindle edition on Amazon here.

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