I have good intentions of keeping up on the blog, of keeping up around the house, or working on other projects. I have a hard time saying ‘No’ to people, and often overbook my calendar. Every time I fail to meet deadlines or let someone down, I pick myself back up and vow to do better. Only to stumble again. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks and have gotten more careful about this. So here is what I have learned about making sure I can keep the promises I make.
1. Put EVERYTHING in the calendar, make everyone else in the family do this, and CHECK IT before making plans. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised how many times this has gone awry.
2. Be aware of your physical and emotional limitations. Don’t promise to go next week on a 10 mile, uphill hike when you know you have a hard time today walking a mile on flat sidewalks. If you have a chronic illness like I do, you have only so much energy each day. Don’t punish yourself by pushing so hard it takes two weeks to recover.
3. Don’t make promises in the heat of the moment. Plan ahead before you say anything. Wait. Then look at it again when emotions have died down. This reduces the possibility for making promises out of desperation.
4. Never negotiate with a kid. Don’t use promises as a way to bribe a kid to do something you want. It WILL backfire, especially if you don’t intend to follow through.
5. Practice saying ‘no’ with people you’re not close to and who cannot make you feel guilty. Eventually, you’ll be more comfortable saying it to people you’re close to. It’s uncomfortable and awkward at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.
6. Don’t make excuses as to why you are saying ‘no’. Honestly, most people don’t care, and if they do, they’re looking for a way to get their foot in the door to get you to say ‘yes’. If they do care, they’ll come back after the dust settles and ask.
7. If you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to care for others. Take time each day to recharge, meditate, pray, Bible study, take a long soak in the tub (or a nice warm shower), even 5 minutes to breathe deeply or take a walk around the block. Eat right and get plenty of sleep and fluids.
8. When working on a project, always promise less, deliver more. Promise what you know you can absolutely deliver, and then say “If I have time left, I will work on this further.”
9. It’s perfectly fine to not schedule every single minute of your day. Leave room for spontaneity, for those times when you are truly needed and called to help.
10. If you make a promise, do whatever you can to keep it, even if you made the promise foolishly. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Make yourself known as trustworthy and a person of integrity.