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The importance of keepingyour word (and tips for doing so)

Keeping your word is an important part of maturity. It is important not just because it impacts how others see you, but also how you see yourself. There are several reasons to keep your word and a few tips on ways that you can do it more frequently.

Reasons to keep your word

The most important reason to keep your word is your integrity. Making promises on which you do not follow through means that you can’t be trusted, even by yourself. Saying one thing and doing another means that what you think, believe, say, and do are out of alignment. When that happens, you lose your own sense of identity.

A second reason to keep your word is for your self esteem and self confidence. Delivering on what you promise is essential toward building your self confidence and gives you belief in your ability to pursue your goals. That, in turn, leads you to take more action on them. Failure to deliver has just the opposite effect. You feel guilty for letting someone down and begin questioning your abilities to complete other tasks. This often results in inaction. Repeated often enough, this alone can stop you from reaching your goals.

Your reputation is also extremely important. When people believe that they can trust you, they are more likely to do business with you and encourage others to do the same. Building this trust is part and partial to building your marriage, your business, your career, and/or your relationships. Failure to deliver will mean that people may interact with you from time to time, but long-term relationships will be impossible to come by.

Finally, there’s the altruistic reason to live by your word. When you fail to follow through on something that you promise, you are putting somebody else out.  They trust you to do something.  If you didn’t want to do it, you should have declined when they asked. Once you fail to deliver, though, you’re putting an undue burden on another person.

Tips to help you keep your word

Say “No” – Many people fail to keep their word simply because they have a problem saying “no” to people. While helping others is good, it’s far better to say that you won’t do something than to promise that you will only to disappoint. Saying “no” when you can’t or won’t do something keeps your reputation in tact while allowing the other person or people to make alternate plans.

Act immediately – This is not always possible since many promises you make involve future dates. When you can, though, complete the project as soon as possible rather than risking completing it late or not at all. When it does involve a future date, be sure to write it down and keep the date(s) involved clear of other engagements. If it’s a long-term project, create your schedule around what you need to do to complete it in time.

Think before you promise – Many people start asking themselves why they made a promise immediately after doing so.  Take time to think something over to make sure that you’re willing, or at least able, to follow through. Avoid using statements like, “I’ll try” and “if I can” since these can create problems.  You can, however, tell the person/people that you will get back to them and let them know. If you do this, get back in touch with a definitive answer as soon as possible.

Worst case scenario – If you do find yourself in the position of being unable to deliver on a promise that you made, let the other person/people involved know as soon as possible rather than putting it off. This gives them the opportunity to make alternative arrangements and prevents you from becoming the person who let them down at the last minute.

It can be difficult to live by your word, but it is an essential part of maturity and growth. Keeping your word will get you further in life than just about any level of education.  Live in a way that builds trust not only with yourself but with others.