We’ve all been there. We make a commitment to do so something for someone (or for ourselves) and then life gets in the way and it just doesn’t happen. I’m having one of those days today. There are good reasons that I didn’t get things done like I wanted to, but if I’m not super careful, it will happen way too often. And here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what the reasons are if we let the “reasons” be to blame every time we fall short of the commitments we make or the outcomes we planned to achieve.
Some of us will say, “yeah, but” to this and talk about all the reasons they really wanted something to happen. My answer to this is, “yeah, but” it didn’t happen. That’s the problem here. Our intentions are not the same as our actions. This is what happens when we break our commitments:
- It erodes confidence in yourself.
- It leads to overwhelm and frustration (yours and others).
- It reduces your credibility.
I could go on and on here. There are so many negative outcomes you can create by falling short of your commitments. We know this. Yet, it still happens. Why?
Here’s the truth – because we let it happen.
We want to be good collaborators and partners, so sometimes we:
- say yes to things we probably shouldn’t
- allow ourselves to get overbooked and keep pushing off the thing we committed to because of the 10 other things we also committed to
- don’t realistically plan for the scenarios that are likely to trip us up and prevent us from getting everything done
- “hope for the best” in achieving the commitments we have made and continue to refer to how much we “want” to help
The challenge here, of course, is that this sets everyone up for failure.
There are a couple of steps necessary to break this cycle.
Step 1: know the difference between actions and intentions. Here’s how I see the difference:
Intentions – What we committed to do.
Actions – What we did to live up to the commitment.
Sometimes our intentions and actions don’t quite get aligned. We know we really wanted to get that thing done. We had hoped to make it happen. If we are not super protective of our commitments and priorities, we can find ourselves in a vicious game of “who do I disappoint?” when trying to get things done. That feeling can be frustrating and toxic to productivity.
However, we can’t stop there. Sometimes, our actions don’t lead to the outcomes that align with the commitments we made, either. That’s where step 2 comes in.
Step 2: make your actions intentional, purposeful, and impactful.
Did the actions we took directly lead to the committed outcomes? This can be a bit tricky. Sometimes our actions fall short of achieving the outcomes because (and if we are honest with ourselves here), we either didn’t understand the commitment we made, we realized we don’t have time to do it right so we do something to just check it off the list, or we…well, there are a ton of other reasons we do this…not all intentional.
Here’s the real credibility differentiator:
Results – Achieving the outcome intended via the commitment we made.
We are all measured by results, not intentions, yet when we fall short of our commitments, we tend to talk about how much we tried. I totally get it. I have said that so many times this week. I tried. Well, guess what? Trying doesn’t actually change the world, get the project done, or get your kid to practice on time. What does work? Uh, the stuff we all know so darn well, PLANNING!
If we take the time to plan our work thoughtfully, evaluate the risk factors that can get in our way of being truly productive, and commit thoughtfully, we will be far more likely to reach the goals we set for ourselves.
The next time you are about to make a commitment to someone, do yourself a favor and STOP for a minute. Think about what you already have on your plate, think about the 50 “it’s just a 5-minute thing” types of tasks that will pop up, and maybe most importantly, ponder the impact of not keeping this commitment. Is damaging your credibility worth it?
Of course, this doesn’t mean you say no to everything, as fun as that might be! This just means that we do for ourselves what we do so well for others…plan the work, then stick to the plan!
Thanks for taking the time to read this article.
I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.
See you online!