How many of you try to fulfill your commitments at any cost? How many of you, if you commit to something, remember it and try to stick to it no matter what? For example, if you tell someone you’ll call them the next day, or you promised to meet them, or told them that you’ll get back to them on something in a few days – how many of you diligently do so without waiting to be reminded? If you do, what’s your motivation to do the same? If you don’t what’s the reason for not doing it?
I know we all have places and people with whom we are more committed than others. So, commitment varies depending on who or what is it that we are committing. Which brings me to the next question – if we don’t treat all commitments with the same seriousness, why do we commit in the first place? What’s the necessity to commit when we know from the beginning we aren’t into it 100%? Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t commit in those cases?
What happens when we simply commit is we lose our credibility each time we don’t fulfill them. Over time, we tend to get a notorious reputation of someone who can’t be relied upon. Our words lose their value since we didn’t respect them ourselves. And then we complain that others aren’t understanding us or that everyone misunderstands us. We forget the role we played all along in making that happen. It’s not like they put a gun on our heads and asked us to commit. We committed to making them momentarily happy. But the next moment, what’s going to happen? That consequence is a lot worse than not giving them a commitment at all, to begin with. One is what they think of you. Second is, even in your own eyes, you might start seeing yourself as someone who simply speaks and doesn’t follow. So you lose credibility in your own eyes. You start losing steam on fulfilling your own commitments to yourself too – even on small things like waking up early, exercising, eating right – because now you are used to having a reputation of someone who doesn’t keep up their commitments. That’s a huge risk now! You get used to being and operating under an unproductive label.
Versus – imagine you are someone who mostly keeps up your commitments to such a degree that on a rare occasion that you don’t, people automatically assume you must be really held up otherwise you aren’t someone who misses something. So, you are known as a man or woman of your word. People understand you without waiting for an explanation from you to be understood. When you have that kind of a reputation that precedes you, you will be super motivated even when you make small commitments to yourself. Because that becomes a part of your personality or identity. You are always motivated to remember and keep up with any commitments that you make. You also notice the effect it has on others and you – and hence even more so, you do that consistently. Isn’t that absolutely brilliant!
That’s what you miss out for yourself by loosely giving commitments and by not taking your words seriously. Where commitment is not possible or not necessary, don’t give it. If you give it, do it differently. For example,
- If someone calls you – and you are busy, instead of telling them that you’ll call back and forgetting about it, ask them to call you back after 4 hours or the next day. That way you keep the ball in their court. Don’t do this always. Else it will appear like you don’t take up any responsibilities. But have a balance. Where you can do this, do it. Where you can’t, keep a reminder or a note for yourself to do it.
- If you read emails, respond immediately. Don’t do the reading at one time and leave responding for later. That’s how we miss responding to emails.
- If you have a small task that can be done immediately, do it now rather than postpone it. That’s how we forget because it was a small task.
- If you promise someone to get back and you feel there’s a remote chance you might miss, request them to send you a reminder on a particular day. Or, request them to send you a reminder if they don’t hear back from you by a certain timeframe.
When you are doing the above, you are showing through your actions and words that keeping up your commitment is important for you and it is not a loose talk. Wherever possible, seek their help or help yourself. But value your words. Only then you’ll be valued.
- The most important thing is don’t snooze reminders and alarms. That’s the biggest way to lose track of your commitment. You snooze once, you snooze twice, and after that what happens? You lose your interest or intensity towards doing that particular task. If you were able to snooze twice without anything bad happening, that means you can last a lifetime without doing it. That’s how we lose track of things in life. We become good at snoozing!! What a rotten thing to be good at! Keep reminders and alarms at a time when you really feel you can do it. Be realistic in your estimate of time. Like loose talk, alarms and reminders also become loose if kept for the heck of it at unreasonable times. Don’t allow snoozing as an option for yourself 95% of the time. And you’ll see a stark increase in your capacity to do things on time.
And don’t make it about others and whether they are worth keeping your commitment or not. It’s about you and the legacy that you are leaving behind. You can either inspire them to be better or instigate them to be the same!