The Power of Keeping Your Promises
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How effective are you at keeping the promises and commitments you make – those commitments you make to others and those commitments you make to yourself?
The cost you pay for not keeping your promises may not seem like much at the time, but the true cost is a cumulative cost, a cost that, over time, will significantly erode (1) the trust others place in you, (2) your personal integrity, (3) your self-esteem, (4) your self-confidence and (5) your self-respect. A high cost indeed.
EVERY promise or commitment you make is ultimately with yourself. Even when you are making a promise with someone else, your brain hears it and registers it as a commitment to yourself. You are making an agreement with yourself to do something, and when you don’t follow through, you learn to distrust yourself. The result is a chipping-away of your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect. You lose faith in your ability to produce a result. You weaken your sense of integrity.
When you realize how important your integrity and self-esteem really are, you will stop making casual promises just to get someone off your back. You won’t sell your self-esteem for a little bit of momentary approval. You won’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. You will make fewer promises, and you will do whatever it takes to keep them.
Finally, if you want to have the respect and trust of others, which is absolutely critical to accomplishing anything big and important in life, then you will take keeping all your promises and commitments with absolute seriousness.
Here are some tips for making fewer promises and commitments and for keeping the one you do make:
Make Only Promises and Commitments You Intend to Keep.
Take a few seconds before making a promise or commitment to see if it is really what you WANT to do. Check in with yourself – how do you really feel about it? Don’t make a promise just because you are looking for someone’s approval. If you do, you’ll find yourself breaking these commitments more often than not.
Write Down ALL the Promises and Commitments You Make.
Use a planning tool such as your calendar, daily planning book, to do/task list, notebook or phone application to record ALL of your commitments. In the course of a week, you might enter into dozens of commitments and agreements to do things. One of the BIG reasons we don’t keep our promises is that with the daily press of our activities, we simply forget many of the commitments we have made. Write them down, and then review the list at the end of every day. You may have great intentions, but if you forget to do what you agreed to do, the result is the same as your choosing not to keep the promise.
Communicate Any Broken Promise at the First Appropriate Time.
As soon as you know you’re going to have a broken promise – your car won’t start, you’re caught in traffic, your child is sick, your computer crashes, another deadline shifts – notify the other person as soon as possible, and then renegotiate the commitment. This demonstrates respect for others’ time and their needs. It also gives them time to reschedule, re-plan, make other arrangements, and limit any potential damage. If the first appropriate time is after the fact, still let them know that you have a broken promise, clean up any consequences, and decide whether to recommit to the promise.
Learn to Say “NO” More Often.
Give yourself time to think it over before making any new promises or commitments. Develop the habit of saying “No” when appropriate. Always ask yourself the question: “What am I going to have to give up, if I say “Yes” to this commitment.” Saying “No” is empowering and builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Saying “Yes”, and then breaking the commitment, does the exact opposite – lowering your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect.
Evaluate yourself at least once a week on how well you’re keeping your promises and commitments. Put the above tips and techniques into play, and improve your follow-through on the commitments you make to yourself and others.
All the best to you!
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