Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keeping Promises

How often have you said to someone "Love to catch up! Let's go for a coffee" (drink, walk etc) but failed to follow up? You were full of good intentions at the time, the sentiment was sincere, but for whatever reason you just never did anything about it. Have you thought about the impact that has had on you?

Firstly, it kind of makes you look like a lier. A sweet, well-intentioned one perhaps... but ultimately false.

Secondly, on some level, you must be aware of your lack of follow through. Some people may shrug it off with any number of reasons, including "I was busy", and think nothing much of it. Others may carry the teeny-tiniest hint of guilt for not being of their word. Either way, you are still, on some level, aware that you didn't do what you said you would.

So what's going on here? Perhaps you are simply very generous with words - you have plenty of them and are happy to throw a few spares away in careless conversation. Perhaps you wish to be generous in spirit and demonstrate friendship and warmth by expressing a desire to continue the conversation or connection, somewhere sometime. Perhaps you're not very good at saying no to the wrong things and yes to the right things and so have a whole heap of "busy-ness" stealing time from those things you really want to do (like have the coffee). Or perhaps you are just flaky?

As a kind of game, try this. For just one day don't take on, suggest, or committ to anything unless you are 100% prepared to follow through. Then, the same day, complete the task or put the wheels in motion, and keep them in motion, till the deed is done. Another way of saying it is - for just one day don't make any promises you will not keep. By the end of the day you'll notice some curious benefits.

One benefit is that you will feel less stretched, less obligated; another is improved self esteem (we derive self esteem from action) and confidence. Each time you keep a promise you have made, even if the other person has no idea what's going on, you'll feel an increasing sense of ability. After practicing for a while you may find yourself taking on much bigger challenges - because by then you'll know you can trust yourself to "be your word".

This is not about the other person. This is about you. Yes, you are doing what you told someone you would do - burn that CD, email that photo, share that recipe, arrange that dinner - and they will see and experience that. So it does kind of look like you keeping your "promise" to them... but on another level, first and foremost, you are keeping a promise you made to yourself... and that feels good!

New year's resolution
Silly but funny video
One path to peacefulness

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