Think about how many times you give your word during the day:
- I’ll call you this evening.
- Let’s have lunch this week.
- I’ll check in with the team and get back to you before close of business.
- The proposal will be on your desk by Friday.
- We’re not going to skip date night again this week; I’ll book a babysitter.
- I’m going to go to the gym three times this week, no matter what!
- I’ll start meditating tomorrow. I mean it.
Some of these promises we make to others, and some we make to ourselves. And, as I point out in my book, it doesn’t matter if you actually say “I promise” – that’s the reasoning of a five-year old. Your word is your bond. Period.
Here’s the challenge:
For the next 30 days, jot down everything that you say you will do, including the “by when” date, and then check it off ONLY if you follow through.
I recommend keeping a small pad and pen with you to serve as a reminder.
I tried this myself and was shocked by the results, and not because they were good. It made me realize how often I’d say I’d do something when I had no intention of doing it. Worse yet, it made me realize how automatic it was for me to say “yes.”
“Yes” is polite, and takes virtually no thought. “Yes” is often a way to avoid facing a conflict and resolving it, or thinking critically about whether or not you have the time to do something, or whether or not something is important enough for your commitment.
When I did this, here’s what I experienced: within the first few days I began to catch myself as I agreed to something. A few days later, I would feel uneasy making a promise so thoughtlessly. And a week or so into the challenge, I began to pause just as I was about to commit to doing something.
The end result was fewer promises made and more promises kept. As important, I became intentional about what I committed to, and felt good about giving my word, knowing that I was going to keep it. And because of that, a sense of calm began to surround my interactions.
If you take this on, I’d love to hear your feedback.
Here’s to being our word.
Ken Mosesian is an evangelist for integrity and the author of:
The Power of Promise: How to Win and Keep Customers By Telling the Truth About Your Brand
Available at Amazon