How often have you been in a situation when you promised something to someone but did not or could not keep your promise? Worse, you did not think that keeping your word was important, because something ‘more interesting’ came up.
Consider these situations:
You promise your children a movie night but cancel it as you get invited to a wine launch party. What do you think your children’s thoughts would be? “why does dad (or mom) promise something when he (or she) doesn’t want to keep it?”
Or, you give time to a prospective client to make a presentation but you get late for your meeting and the client, after waiting to hear from you for more than 15 minutes, calls the meeting off. What do you think would be the client’s thoughts before walking out because he could not wait on you any longer? “This guy does not value time, if he cannot stick to a commitment, should I even conduct business with him?””
Well, these are all real-life situations – be it professional or social. We commit something and then decide whether meeting that commitment is important or not. We forget the fact that there is someone who is dependent upon our actions. We forget that something that we feel is not too important could be an extremely important matter for the other person. Seldom do we keep ourselves in the other person’s position and feel the pain.
Promises, in any manifestations, are a by-product of two critical traits – Punctuality and Discipline. Being late, wherein other people are on time and waiting on you, results in acrimony, distrust and at the end of the day is hugely detrimental to all in that situation. Consequently, we get branded as being ‘unreliable’ or in extreme cases, ‘dishonest’. What transpires does not merely tarnish your personal image, but the credibility and integrity of the organization that you represent are also compromised.
Why do you falter?
There could be either or all of the following reasons for this unfortunate situation:
Other things take precedence: You promise to finish a proposal and send it to your client by the end of the day, but by the time you start your workday, you are told to “drop everything else and work on the sales presentation for the CEO scheduled to visit the office tomorrow”. Your commitment to your client goes flying out of your mind’s window,
You bite much more than you can chew: Often, in our enthusiasm of being able to solve everybody’s problem, you commit to be the messiah for all without realizing the limitations of resources – time, money, people, physical and mental faculties – available at your disposal. As a result, most of the things are left incomplete or half done leaving people dissatisfied and wary of you.
You cannot say “No”: It could be that you love someone dearly, or you have utmost respect for someone or out of compulsion of saying “yes” for any other reason, you will find that you often pile up commitments which are impossible to be met at the same time. The result, you end up either feeling sorry about everything or looking for divine intervention to help you meet your commitments.
Habitually delaying work: It is true that many of us leave things to be done at the last minute, habitually. We think that “I have a lot of time to do this, it will not take too long” and spend our time doing other, perhaps, less important things. Eventually, the eleventh-hour rush creates panic and results in either incomplete work or completed but poor quality work, leaving us and those who depended on us, utterly frustrated.
Impact of not keeping your commitment
The principle of ‘my word is my commitment’ seems to be falling out of use, especially when standing by one’s commitment is inconvenient in any way. Reminisce the old times when just a verbal promise, coupled with a handshake, was kept, come what may. Nowadays, hundreds of pages go in drafting a contract and many brilliant legal minds look out for loopholes, either to be plugged or exploited, whichever is beneficial. Ever wonder why is commitment important? How does it impact you if you do not keep your commitment? Here is how: Reminiscing the old times
- You lose your integrity when there is no consistency between your words and actions.
- Your trustworthiness and reliability becomes questionable.
- Respect for you diminishes in others’ eyes.
- Your self-respect takes a beating as well leading to a loss in self-confidence, too.
What should you do to meet your commitments?
Just a few steps will help you in keeping the commitments you make:
Start keeping commitments that you make to yourself. “I shall start regular exercises from tomorrow”. Make sure that tomorrow is the next day, not the tomorrow that never comes.
Make fewer commitments, be it professionally or socially. Do not commit unless you are absolutely sure of meeting them. Check upon your resources which will be required to meet your commitments before making one.
Write down your commitments. This is now simple with almost everyone having a smart phone which allows to set reminders to keep your deadlines on your radar.
Do not let anyone else make commitments for you. This often happens in a workplace when a manager makes commitment to a client on your behalf. You end up being accountable for something you never committed to. Ensure that you are aware of the nature of the commitment and if you feel you cannot deliver, renegotiate. Keep your communication unambiguous. Do not assume anything or leave anything for your manager’s assumption.
Complete existing commitments before making new ones. Do not make new commitments without completing what you already have on your plate. Over-commitment will pile them up and leave you overwhelmed. Learn to say ‘no’, politely but firmly. You are not a superhuman who can do everything at one go, you need to pace out your day and keep time for everything important in your life.
To conclude, always remember one thing, people with good intentions make promises but people with good character keep them. You are not measured on the basis of commitments that you make; but on the basis of the commitments you meet.