Published on January 20, 2014, on one of my old blogs.
When I was younger–though I can’t say I remember how old or young I was–both my parents spoke to me about the importance of keeping your word. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t say you will and then never come through.
At the time, I thought that, as usual, my parents were being overly dramatic about something trivial. Today, I realise how important that bit of advice was. My parents have told me a lot of things over the years, and I admit that I don’t always obey, but for some reason I made it a point to follow this bit of advice. And I’m glad I did. Without my realising it, making it a point to always do what I say I will do has really shaped who I am as a person.
For one thing, it has made me very careful about what I commit to doing. It’s also made me more careful with my words, mindful of whether or not I have said something that someone will take as a promise. It’s also made me very careful about using the word “promise” and what I promise to people.
For another, I have learned to hate going back on my word. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I tend to ask myself why I said I’d do it in the first place. I also hate changing things (like plans) on people because they may have already started to rely on what I originally said. I hate being late. I think being late is being rude, and ultimately it means you couldn’t keep your word of showing up when you said you would. (This is probably my ultimate pet peeve. I really wish more people were mindful of being on time.)
And when for one reason or another, when it becomes impossible for me to follow through, I say so. And I make up for it when and how I can. Usually I ask “is there anything else I can do?” or “how do I make this up to you?”
Okay, why I am writing about this… No, I am not singing myself praises or calling myself perfect. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m far from perfect–more like batsh*t nuts, really.
I am writing about this because I have noticed that many people don’t seem to give the same importance to keeping their word. They make commitments without thinking about it, they make promises without meaning it, and they don’t seem to see the problem.
Keeping your word, doing what you say you’ll do is a testament to your character. It tells other people what type of person you are. It makes you trustworthy, reliable, and someone who deserves respect. This is especially true for those who understand that keeping your word doesn’t involve your saying “I give you my word.” or “I promise.” Those people who know that commitments don’t need to be promised to be kept. People who know that once you’ve said it, you best do it or get it done, and that it applies to even the smallest of things.
How much have you appreciated it when someone said “I will get back to you,” and they actually did. Even when the issue at hand was not important and if they never got back to you, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Just the fact that they did get back to you because they said they would probably made a world of difference and put them in a different light.
Perhaps being able to keep your word is rooted in good communication. If you properly communicate and keep communicating, you will seldom find yourself committing to what you cannot do, and seldom find people who feel you let them down. As my mom always says: “Just talk about it. That’s usually a step in the right direction.”
While I would love to expound further, the truth is that there’s nothing more to say on the matter. Just do what you say you’ll do, no matter how small. It really makes a difference.
Two years later, I have to give concession to difficult situations; that sometimes you cannot follow through with certain commitments because other more important things (people, yourself, happiness) are at stake. For the most part, however, I stand by what was written in January 2014. Be a person of your word.