We all make promises. Sometimes we say we will do something, other it’s just the mere fact that we are in a certain position that “promises” we will act in certain ways and not in others.

Promises are extremely complicated. Once a promise is made, a pact is established. Nobody likes to be break pacts, yet it is a fact of every day life that most promises are not kept. We forget about them, we do not have time to actually stand by them, we change our mind, we probably did not intend to commit in the first place but thought it was nice or appropriate in the moment.

I found few things to help when it comes to promises and acting on one’s words.

Promise little. Wanting to please people around us is normal, and so we tend to say we will do things even when we already know we don’t have enough time or energy, we don’t really care, we have not the skills to, and so on. Be honest with yourself in the first place, and promise only what you know you can deliver.

Be specific with the promise. Tell what you will do, how, when, with whom, add as many details as you possibly can. This will help you set a plan in your mind that will eventually make it easier to stick to your word. This is particularly helpful also when the promise is done because of the position you are in: if you start in a lead role, it is for example very useful to sit down with the people you will lead and set clear expectations about your role.

Remember and do. This is the tricky bit. Promising little will help you remember, and being specific will help you with doing. Yet eventually, you will still have to follow up on the promise. Doing it is ideal, yet if for any reason you realise you can’t, you will still have to openly and candidly tell something like: “I know I said I would, and for this and that reason it is not possible right now”.

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