They say promises are made to be broken, right? For many people, promises are nothing but a string of beautiful but empty words.
That’s why it’s always a breath of fresh air when you find someone who actually keeps their word. How do they do it?
Well, they’ve become that way by practicing specific habits that develop this sense of integrity and steadfastness in them.
Today, let’s dive into these habits and find out what it takes to be true to the words we say.
1) They keep their promises realistic
To begin with, people who keep their word know that they can only do it if it’s realistic. Before they say yes to anything, they do a quick self-evaluation and consider their time, energy, and resources.
They won’t say reassuring stuff that’s actually impossible for them to do in reality.
My ex was that way – he’d say he’ll go with me to a doctor’s appointment even when he knew that he wouldn’t be able to make it.
At first, it was okay, but after a few instances like this, I caught on that he merely wanted to keep the peace but had no intention of following through.
Obviously, that relationship didn’t succeed; I just found it hard to trust someone for whom promises were meaningless.
2) They prioritize their commitments
Successful promise-keepers don’t make commitments and then forget about them. They treat each promise as a priority and organize their schedule around it. I’ve always found it fascinating how they juggle multiple tasks without letting any balls drop.
My mom was that kind of person. Despite having a really loaded work schedule, she would prioritize any commitments she’d make.
If she said she’ll come and watch my performance at school plays, I knew that when I looked out into the audience, I’d see her face.
How did she do it? Well, just like any other person who keeps their promise, she has excellent time management skills. This leads me to my next point…
3) They respect other people’s time
Promise keepers inherently value the concept of time – both theirs and others. They won’t leave you hanging, waiting for them to make good on their word.
What are the specific habits that demonstrate this?
- They are punctual
- They respect deadlines
- They inform you right away if they can’t fulfill the promise for some reason
Now, I have to emphasize that last bit. Of course, even people who keep their word are only human. And unforeseen events do arise.
The difference is, they are very mindful of how you’d feel on your end. So, they’ll reach out and communicate (more on this later) so you won’t have to wonder what happened.
Through that action alone, you get the feeling that they aren’t slacking off; they hold themselves accountable for delivering on time.
4) They communicate effectively
Do you know someone who says, “I’ll try” when you invite them to a party or ask them to do something?
Chances are that person’s what they call a “waffler.” Someone who can’t make up their mind, or at least give a definite answer.
People who keep their word don’t waste time on that. For them, it’s either yes or no – no dithering about it.
They won’t give you a false sense of hope by saying ambiguous lines like, “I’ll try” or “I’ll let you know…”
This habit prevents a lot of potential misunderstandings and disappointments down the line because you already know if they can commit or not.
And as I mentioned earlier, once they do commit, they even communicate to you the status of their promise. For instance, if they’ve promised to finish a report by the end of the day, they’ll go the extra mile to keep you updated on their progress.
Simply put, you can count on them to be honest.
5) They are honest
There’s no doubt about it, honesty and integrity are among the core values of people who do their best to keep their promises.
As earnest as they are in keeping their word, they’re not people pleasers. They won’t say yes just to make you happy only to renege later.
If they foresee a situation where they might not be able to fulfill a promise, you’ll know right away because they’ll be upfront about it.
That’s why promise-keeping is actually a good measure of someone’s trustworthiness. It goes beyond the promise and tells you that the person is someone who’s respectful and considerate of others.
6) They consider the long-term consequences
Another thing you’ll notice about people who consistently keep their promises is their ability to consider the long view.
Meaning, they don’t just think about the immediate task at hand. They consider the long-term implications of their commitments.
Where others might say right away, “All right, I’m in!” they’ll pause a beat and think about it more deeply.
As someone who has learned how to do this, I think about the far-reaching consequences of making certain promises. I’d ask myself, “What precedent am I setting by making this commitment?”
This habit wasn’t second nature to me in the past. Before, I’d just say yes mindlessly to favors people asked of me.
But what I’ve found is that sometimes making a promise sets you up for similar favors in the future. And if you’re not exactly open to that, then it’d be wise to think about it before committing.
For instance, agreeing to take care of someone’s cat for a weekend means there’s a possibility you’ll be asked again in the future.
So if you’d rather not do it again, just say no the first time. Or at least make it clear that you’re willing to do it for just the one time.
Taking the long view before committing helps provide a better understanding of the potential impact of a promise.
7) They practice self-discipline
Has this ever happened to you: you promised your friend you’ll meet her for coffee on a Saturday. But then, you turn on the TV and soon you’re neck-deep in an exciting episode of [insert trashy yet binge-worthy reality show].
And because you’re now caught up in that lazy, cozy weekend vibe, you aren’t in the mood to go out anymore.
Or how about this:
You’ve got a report due the following day. But instead of working on it, you’re finding all sorts of ways to procrastinate. When the deadline comes around, you barely make it, and your report is barely passable, too.
I’m not judging here. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been guilty of both those things myself.
It’s pretty common behavior, after all. Except for those who take their commitments seriously. You won’t find them struggling with these issues at all.
You know why?
It’s simple: self-discipline.
They manage their commitments effectively with a certain level of self-control, organization, and commitment.
8) They don’t fear failure
Look, there’s no shame in being afraid to fail. It’s something all of us have felt at one point or another in our lives.
The key is to not stay there in that corner – otherwise, you’d never commit to anything!
People who stay true to their word know that commitment requires courage. The courage to face challenges head-on, to learn from their mistakes, and aim to do better next time.
That attitude is also what pushes them to make good on their promises, no matter how difficult. They aren’t paralyzed by the thought of failing, which could lead to procrastination, perfectionism or overpromising.
9) They value their reputation
Lastly, people who keep their promises take pride in their solid reputation.
As I mentioned earlier, honesty and integrity are among the central tenets of their lives. These are more important to them than any material possession or high status.
So, it follows that their actions reflect who they are as individuals. For them, every promise kept bolsters up their reputation as trustworthy people.
As you can see, being able to keep our promises isn’t a talent we’re born with. It’s simply a matter of having respect and empathy for other people.
When you consider – really consider – how other people would feel if you let them down, you’ll find it harder to go back on your word. It’s going to weigh heavily on your conscience!
So, if you sometimes struggle with keeping promises, remember, it’s all about seeing things from the other person’s side. Once you can do that, it becomes easier to develop the right habits and the self-discipline to follow through on your promises.
Start small, be consistent, and gradually, you’ll find yourself becoming the kind of person others can count on.