Stop Flaking Out: The Art of Keeping Commitments

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Valentine’s Day is just a couple days away and National Marriage Week is this week! I’ve been commemorating these occasions by sharing the love story of my husband and I in a ten-part series of posts on Instagram. If you haven’t seen it, go and check it out! It’s a long and twisty tale! With that, the thoughts on love and marriage have gotten me thinking about commitments. In this culture, it seems that flaking out on commitments has become commonplace. If it isn’t flaking out on your marriage, it’s flaking out on your family, friends and your responsibilities. When I was younger, that was pretty easy for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the ultimate importance of keeping my commitments.

While I won’t go as deep as the topic of marital relationships today (believe me…that’s coming), I want to start at the foundation. Do you find yourself making plans and then texting at the last minute to cancel? Do you make a commitment to do something for others and then fall short of your intentions? It doesn’t make you a bad person. However, being aware of your flaking is the first step to making an improvement. And it is important to improve. Why? Because when you’re a flake, you come across as untrustworthy, irresponsible and rude. I don’t think those are ways we want to come across. So here are some steps you can take to be intentional about keeping your commitments in the future.

1. Set Your Priorities

Before you commit, you’ve got to know what is most important to you. Don’t set these priorities after you make promises; this has to happen beforehand. Your faith should always come first. God is the foundation of my life and if that’s not tended to, nothing else can be successful. If God doesn’t come first for me, then I might as well make Him last. After that comes my relationship with my husband. Then comes your relationship to your children, family and friends. Then comes your relationship to your job and everything else.

Knowing your priorities will help you to determine what things you can commit to and which things you can’t. For instance, my husband and I have a weekly date night. If my family wants something from me on that night, I prioritize my husband over them. Now, there are times when the family matter is important and, at that point, I go to my husband and present the issue and then we make the decision together to deal with the family. At any point, he comes before everyone else (but God).

If you’re faced with potential commitments that conflict, consult your priorities and make your decision based off of that. Think you can commit to both? Not a good idea. The two may be in such conflict that flaking out on either becomes much too easy.

2. Know Your Capabilities

The next thing that is key to keeping your commitments is knowing exactly what you’re actually capable of. Don’t over-promise and under perform. You may think that you are pleasing people by immediately committing. However, if you say, “Sure I can be there!” Then you come back and say, “Actually, I was wrong. I can’t be there.” Then that’s a flake moment. It’s better to say, “Let me check on that and get back to you.” You’re not committed to anything and, if you can’t do it, you’ve not let down the person asking.

Check your calendar. Ask your spouse. Consult your schedule. Then if those things are in check and not in conflict with anything in priority, you’re free to make the commitment. Doing this makes those commitments easier to keep and less likely to be cancelled. This should make the people in your life very pleased at your level of commitment and your responsiveness to their needs.

3. Know Your Boundaries

Not only should you know what you’re capable of before committing, you should also know if the commitment is something you can actually deliver on. If you’ve been asked to attend an event on a certain day, but know that there are other things taking up your energy, you are more likely to cancel. For instance, when I’m about to go out of town, I need the day before to really prepare. From time to time I’ll find myself making a commitment on the day before a trip and then at the last minute I’m calling and saying, “Hey, I can’t do it. I’m trying to get prepped for this trip and I’m really running behind.” Sure, I might be technically free that day. However, because I know myself and what I need, I know I shouldn’t be promising myself to anyone before a trip.

On top of that, if it’s not actually something you want to do, you have to be honest with yourself about that. Otherwise, you’ll be looking for reasons to cancel. Sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone is a positive thing. However, if it’s putting someone else’s feelings in jeopardy, it’s not worth the risk.

As you can see, keeping your commitments is more about when to make the commitments to make it harder to flake out. And, quite honestly, it’s up to you not to give into flaky tendencies. Know that commitments are important and they involve the feelings of other people. Flaking out might give you relief, but it causes the people around you to question their trust and dependence in you. Ultimately if you want to be seen as trustworthy and dependable, be seen as a person who keeps their commitments.

What about you? Do you think you have flake-out tendencies or do you have friends and family who are constantly flaking out on you? Could these steps help improve that tendency?

19 Comments

  • A great write up.Life is all about commitment.Do we keep up is the key question which separates trustworthy people from those who do not value this basic principle and hence are seen as unreliable.

  • Ive gotten much better at keeping my commitments. I used to be terrible! I was SO flakey! But then I saw that my daughter was beginning to take on this behaviour Nd realized it was time for a change. Over the last few years I have changed my thought process and made sure to keep commitments I make or not to make commitments at all.

    Great post and topic!

  • It’s important to keep your commitments. As you get older you realize how much other’s are counting on you in certain situations and when you flake out the effects trickle down to others. You want to be as open as possible but I agree with knowing your capabilities and setting limits. If you can’t be somewhere let them know and if you can’t help move a piano because you physically can’t move a piano let the person know. Excellent tips to always remember.

  • I agree that if we commit to something, we should try to stick with it. However, sometimes life gets in the way, and plans do need to be changed. In my case it’s normally due to health, but the people who matter to me understand. I don’t think I’d consider myself a flaker though.
    It’s important to have priorities too, but sometimes we need to put ourselves at the top of the list, because we are just as important as everyone else on the list.

  • This one’s so important, and it can be tough if you’re kind of a people-pleaser. You want to make people happy and not have to deal with the confrontation of simply telling them “no”, but committing to things you can’t commit to is not how you do that. Sometimes you need to just be straight up with people so that you’re not held to a commitment you never intended to commit to. Only commit thing the things you are serious about, and don’t worry if people seem annoyed. They’d be much more annoyed if you say you’re gonna do something and then turn around and don’t do it.

  • I tend to not be a flake — for instance, I have a rule that on any hind of social engagement it’s “first-come, first-served.” That is, if I make plans with someone, and something “better” comes up, I don’t ditch them. Instead, I miss the really exciting thing (or bring the person with me). I do have a tendency to overcommit, which can make me seem flaky. Working on under promising and over delivering instead.

  • So true! It’s all good and well to say “I’ll be more social”, but if you stretch yourself too thin, it quickly becomes a negative. Great hints here, and ones I’ve had to remind myself many times.

  • In every sphere of life, over estimating your capabilities will always put you in trouble. I keep telling people, why don’t you act proactive instead of being reactive?
    It saves you a lot of stress and increases your self worth.

  • I have a hard time saying “No Thank you” to commitments and I get major FOMO when I think about skipping out on events by not committing. But, I started working on this last year and it made a huge difference. I prioritize certain things and have taken care to not commit if I might not follow through. Now, it doesn’t bother me as much to say “No thank you” ahead of time because it feels better than flaking out at the last minute.

  • It is very important to understand our capabilities and boundaries. Sometimes we just commit without realizing our limits which lead to failed commitments. But, as you rightly said, failed commitments are not appreciated in fact create a very bad impression about a person. Very useful post

  • I am so bad about not being able to say no, even if I reeeeally don’t want to do something. And then I flake. Guilty. It’s me. This post is about me.

  • I am in a weird place in my life. After losing a successful job placement (even though I found something else) I don’t commit to anything at all. Reason ? So I don’t fail at keeping them. I can’t and will not be a person to let others down. But I also find myself not seeing the bigger picture. Work in progress

  • This was a great read! I’m coming back from a recent ptsd break and I was at a point where everything was too hard. So I’m slowly getting back to keeping all my commitments, this is so helpful!

  • I think people who are involved in several activities (Scouts, church, PTO, etc.) are often asked to do more because people know they usually follow through and do an excellent job. Learning how to say no is so important. You need to realize what your priorities are and decide whether or not you really want to do something before saying yes.

  • these are some amazing tips. this year i definitely have made it a goal to keep commitments that i make to myself, the biggest one being staying fit and healthy. so far i am doing pretty well i’d say. i think having realistic expectations and a schedule helps a lot!

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