It used to be that one’s word was one’s bond. People thought carefully about whether they could deliver on their promises before agreeing to anything, it was that important! Today keeping one’s agreements seems to be a hit or a miss affair.
The real problem is not that people give and break their word easily it’s that they don’t realise the psychological cost of doing so. When you don’t keep your agreements you pay both external and internal costs! You lose trust, respect, and credibility with others: your family, your friends, your colleagues, your customers. You create messes in your own life and in the lives of those who depend on you for getting things done, whether it is showing up on time to leave for the movies, finishing a report on time, or cleaning the garage. After a few weeks of not following through on your promise to take the kids to the park on the weekend they begin not to trust you to keep your word and realise they can’t count on you. You lose authority with them and your relationship deteriorates.
More importantly every agreement you make is ultimately with yourself. Even when you are making an agreement with someone else your brain hears it and registers it as a commitment. 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 loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect. You lose faith in your ability to produce a result and you weaken your sense of integrity. Let’s say you tell your spouse you’re going to get up at 5:30 in the morning and do some exercise before going to work. After three days of hitting the snooze button your brain knows better than to trust you and your spouse feels irritated with the alarm going off and disturbing his / her sleep while you roll over for another forty winks.
Of course you may think sleeping in is no big deal, but to your subconscious it is a VERY big deal. When you don’t do what you say you will you create confusion, self-doubt, and undermine your sense of personal power. It is not worth it!
It is simply a matter of realizing what you are giving up. If you want more self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect, personal power, mental clarity, and energy then you’ll make keeping your word more important. If you want others to respect and trust you, which is critical in accomplishing anything big and important in life, then you’ll take keeping your agreements more seriously.
Here are four simple rules on making and keeping agreements to help you
Make only agreements that you intend to keep.
Write down all agreements you make. (We forget in a little as 37 seconds.)
Communicate any broken agreements at the first appropriate time.
Learn to say “NO” more often.
Give yourself time to think it over before you make any new agreement. A friend of mine writes the word NO in red on his calendar to remind himself to really consider what else he will have to give up if he says yes to something new. It’s good to take time and think before you add another commitment to your life.
Until next time I wish you peace love and happiness
Martin Acton sensei