Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Importance Of Keeping Commitments

Less than three weeks ago, many people made New Year's  Resolutions - commitments to themselves to achieve one or more goals this year.  How are you doing with yours?  Are you still working on them or have you already given up?

We make commitments all the time, often without giving them much thought.  People ask us to  do something for them, go somewhere with them, adhere to a standard, or keep a secret. We say 'Yes' then don't stick to the thing we agreed to.  Maybe we forgot, or it seemed like too much work, something better came along,or we thought it was not important.

It is always important to keep commitments, not only because if we don't others stop trusting us, but also because we lose trust in ourselves.

Without trust in ourselves we lose confidence that we will be able to set goals and meet them, or face disaster and come out the other side 'bloody but unbowed.'  The courage to face major challenges in life comes from knowledge that we can be trusted, and so can trust ourselves.  With each commitment we keep or renegotiate, our trust grows.

How to do this?.  First by considering any agreement before agreeing to it.  Find out what's involved and whether you are willing and able to do it. Don't say 'yes' unthinkingly.  You can also say 'no', or 'I won't do that, but I will do this.'

If  you make a commitment and later find you cannot keep it, renegotiate as soon as possible with the person you made the promise to. 

Start your practice by committing to small things first, then once you are keeping all these small committments, agree to larger ones.   Over time you will notice your awareness, self-confidence and self-trust growing, and others will likely respond to you differently as well.

If you have already given up on your New Year's Resolutions you can look carefully at what went wrong.  What held you back from working on your resolutions?  Were the goals wrong, or was the plan ineffective?

Then renegotiate with yourself. What will you do, or what won't you do now?  How will you handle these new committments to enhance your chance of keeping them? 

How will you handle it when you fall down on your promise to yourself?  Will you just give up, or will you realise that you are human and make mistakes.  Personal change can be difficult, and you may 'fail' several  times before you get it right.  Each time you try again with the intention to succeed, you are building muscle for the future.

If you have a story about your New Year's Resolutions, I would be happy to learn about it - just leave a comment.