Promises, Promises: Do You Follow Through?

Have you ever been guilty of making a commitment days or weeks in advance- then having to cancel because another obligation comes up? Something where you want to go out with your friends versus doing something with your family- and you know you’re going to have to disappoint one or the other? In my family, we work hard to honor our commitments as they come in- even with our daughters who often want to cancel if there’s a bigger or better opportunity.

Case in point. My oldest daughter is closing in on her 16th birthday. She’s been getting regular babysitting duties from a few people. It’s also the summer, so her friends call and want her to go out with them- swimming, to the mall, shopping, etc. If she’s made a commitment to work, she has to turn down those other activities. We don’t have her doing 40 hours a week of babysitting (it’s currently 15-20 hours during a hectic week), but we are teaching her through her choice making that there are times where you aren’t able to juggle everything you want in a given day or week.

I’ve hated situations in life where people know they can’t honor a double commitment and take the hard way out by cancelling at the last minute. That makes me feel less than important- as scheduling usually means a time commitment that I can’t go back and fill at the last minute. When we would deejay on the weekends, the toughest negotiation would be finding free dates at times to do future shows- because we would be booked that far in advance and we didn’t want to set up multiple systems with other deejays just to get more shows and cash flow. We required bigger deposits to make sure that both parties understood the bigger value of time, and that would make others think twice about cancelling.

Even when our children are having behavioral issues, my wife and I are careful to not immediately pull the plug on our promises to them. We knew signing up for this that we would be dealing with a lot of emotional and mental triggers where they wanted to take their frustrations out on a safe source: namely us! You can’t cancel birthday celebrations that happen once a year because of their excitement mixed with fear in anticipation of the day. We may modify how holidays are handled, yet they still are important traditions and we celebrate in a way they can handle to hopefully minimize any additional behaviors.

Ultimately, the sooner you know you have to break a promise, put it out there for the other people. Yes you’ll be afraid of what they’ll say- but isn’t that better than having worry and health issues crop up inside of you because you can’t be completely honest with yourself and others? Treat your personal commitments like gold. Promises are a commodity that you earn each time you meet up with them.

I struggle with promises every bowling season. It’s probably the biggest tug of war for my wife and I. Bowling seasons last 8-9 months, and usually involve bowling a league once a week at the same time on the same day from September to May. When your kids are in the emergency room, you break the promise to your team to be with your family. If I’m feeling under the weather, I have to decide if I can still compete 100% as I don’t want to disappoint my team. Early on in our marriage my wife believed my priorities were bowling then family. I hope through the years I’ve shown her that family comes first.

Well, I’m off to get ready for my day. How do you handle promises and commitment? Do you overbook life or have you gained comfort in picking and choosing who you obligate your time to?


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