Stop Saying What You’re Not Going to Do

I caught up with a colleague the other day that I had not seen in some time.

We both said it had been too long.

He promised to call me the following week to do lunch.

That never happened. And I kind of didn’t expect it to.

Why do we say things that we know we won’t do?

Stop Saying What You Won’t Do

Chances are you have made promises this week that you won’t carry out.

Or you have said things that you know that you can’t do.

We are good at telling ourselves and others what they want to hear,

Not necessarily the truth, or what they should hear.

We are good at saying to others…

- I’ll get back to you next week.

- You’ll have the finished report by tomorrow.

- I’ll call you right back.

And just as willing to saying to ourselves…

- I am going to get in shape.

- I am going to write a book.

- I am going to stop doing <insert bad habit>.

Yet in most cases, these are hollow statements.

Mean What You Say, Do What You Say

Life is much easier when we don’t make false promises.

We load ourselves up with false obligations and promises that burden our mind and time.

Instead, stick to the truth. Stay within the bounds of what you can and will do.

Here are some tips to ensure that you mean what you say, and that you do it:

  • Say No – When the answer should be “No,” then make sure you say “No.” This one skill can save you much time and effort in things you shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
  • Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep – If you know you can’t do it, then don’t even go there in the first place. “Don’t write checks that your body can’t cash.”
  • Tell the Truth – The truth isn’t always what people (yourself included) want to hear. Yet, it is usually the shortest and best answer. Don’t be mean, curt, or rude. Just stay true to the facts.
  • Write It Down - If you want to make sure that you do it, then write it down on your list. Things not written down tend to slip our mind. Write it down so you don’t have to remember it later.
  • Schedule It – Even better, schedule the follow-up… now. If you are promising someone you will do something for them, put it on your calendar. If you are promising yourself that you will do something, put it on your calendar.
  • Have the Discipline – Doing what you say is about the discipline to follow-through. Many people lack the willpower to actually do the work. Commit yourself to doing the hard work even when you don’t feel like doing it. (This is how progress is made.)

Start With The Truth

Don’t burden yourself and others with false promises.

Stop tell yourself things you aren’t going to do.

Stop telling others things that you have no intention of doing.

It makes life simpler.

The truth is always more productive.

Question: Do you catch yourself saying things that you know you won’t do?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://twitter.com/JeffOnMission Jeff

    This is something that has been on my heart a lot lately. I’m constantly telling people at church that I will pray for them. I’m usually pretty good at keeping up with this but admittedly, there are times where I forget to write it down.

    Voice memos on your phone might be a good alternative to writing something down too (as long as you check the voice memos!).

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Yes… I use Siri on my iPhone for quick passing reminders. :)

  • http://www.themakegoodchoicesproject.org/ Michael Hawkins

    Oh boy — it’s really all about commitment and discipline, isn’t it? It is so too easy to make promises that we can’t don’t keep.

    My Favorite Memory Tools: I’m a big fan of my short-stack of lined, 3 x 5 index cards bound together with a binder clip. I keep it tucked in my shirt pocket. And…when I’m in my car, I use ReQall. The $2.99 per month fee is WELL worth it.

    Thanks for the great content!

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Ah… the old index cards and binder clip. A good standby! :)

  • http://twitter.com/gadfly1974 Andy Mitchell

    Ouch. Brilliant.

  • http://jacobyount.com/ Jacob Yount

    A very good post. Sometimes the less we talk about the action and just DO IT, the easier it is to get disciplined. Sometimes talking too much about the prognosticated action can cause a diluting to the plan.

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Yes! Too many confuse “talking” for “doing.” :)

  • http://twitter.com/trumpetcommando Matthew Spencer

    That’s awesome! You know, when you call that person back or make that lunch appointment or do what you say, people are going to take note that you are an uncommon man of your word. That’s powerful. Don’t be a cloud without rain!

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Ha! Like that!

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  • Kristen

    I think we all have moments in life where we think about the person we wish we were – we WISH we were fit, we WISH we were more organized, we WISH it was easier for us to follow up with so-and-so, which gets us into trouble. The big thing to remember is HOW these different so-called commitments line up with our values… if you value your health, you’re more likely to eat healthy and work out.

    If you value a friendship, but you don’t value being organized and following through as much as you value the friendship, catching up with them may fall way-side…

    i really like your list. I think the first step is definitely saying no to things that don’t line up with your values or things that just don’t take priority. If you do make a commitment, though, having the discipline to follow through is what I think is the most important. Thanks for the awesome article, as usual :-)

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Kristen, good points.

      You are right that is about “valuing” something enough to make it a priority.
      Do you value exercise enough to put down the remote?
      Do you value writing your book that you stay up late?
      Do you value being organized that you will put in the extra time to stay above the fray?
      And of course, having the discipline to stay the course. :)

  • http://twitter.com/eallin63 Edwin Allin

    So Significantly Simple Straight Up………A Sensational Exercise in “What you may already know, but do you Practice it………Do It.” This is the difference in Success and Failure!

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  • http://www.reflectionsfromthealley.org/ Dave Arnold

    Great post and tips. I have so easily promised something to someone because I didn’t want to let them down. But this hurts them & me. Great stuff!

  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

    By far my biggest issue is saying no. I waste way too much time saying “I’ll try” or “yes.” Great stuff.