For example, you run into an old friend or an ex-colleague on the street. You’re both super excited to see each other. You spend the next 20 minutes swapping news and bringing each other up to date.
At the end of the exchange, you say, “I’m so glad we ran into each other. This has been great. We should get together soon for (pick one) coffee, a drink, dinner.” Your friend agrees, smiles and nods, and you go your separate ways.
It was a great visit. That’s true. But, now there’s a ‘thing’ between you.
What kind of thing, you ask? A promise, a commitment, a spoken intention to act. And the central question is whether you will or whether you won’t follow through.
Sure, your intentions were good, as they are in so many instances. But, time is limited, and we’re easily distracted. Before you know it, days, weeks, months, even years go by – and the thing – that unmet promise still hangs in the air and follows you around.
Multiply the number of ‘things promised but not delivered’ in our lives and the weight of expectation grows heavy.
What’s equally problematic, is that our integrity takes a hit in the eyes of others. We become that person who talks a good line but rarely follows through.
Action: What to do?
Well the first strategy is to avoid creating expectations in the first place. In the example above, simply end the conversation by saying, “I’m so glad we bumped into each other. It was wonderful to get caught up.” And, let it go at that.
The second strategy is to take care of some of that unfinished business, to resolve a few of those ‘things’ that are hanging in the air between you and others.
Here’s how to get some traction on this. Grab an index card and write down three pieces of unfinished business. Start small – no giant projects or mega promises.
Tuck that card at the front of your folding money in your wallet or billfold. Each time you make a purchase, your unmet promises will be staring you in the face. You’ll be prompted again and again to take care of that unfinished business.
And, when you do, you’ll reinforce your integrity in your own mind and in the eyes of others. You become someone who really does follow through
You’ll also be less cavalier about making promises in the future. And that, as they say, will truly take a load off!
Quotes Of The Week: We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. – Alan Simpson
Resource Of The Week: For more on this idea, check out Shelle Rose Charvet’s blog post on The Power of Commitment.
Readers Write: In response to last week’s message, Is Speed Truly The Holy Grail of Happiness, Pause reader CW writes:
Your action is what I do every time I get your newsletter!
- Prepare…to take a moment for myself.
- Absorb…what is in your newsletter.
- Undo…the distractions around me
- Serenity…take a moment to let it sink in
- Enjoy…the calm feeling – even if only for a moment!
I leave Pause in my In Box until I feel I need to take a break.