Illustration by Faraz Ahmed
Illustration by Faraz Ahmed

We all say a lot of things each day. We make big promises to friends that may be too much for us to actually keep. For example, you get excited and tell your friends, “Let’s ride our bicycles this weekend for two hours!”

However, over the weekend, you realise that two hours was too much and you can only go for 20 minutes because you have your favourite show on the TV that you really don’t want to miss. And when you tell your friends about it, their reaction, whether they get mad or simply go away, will not be wrong.

This happens to all of us. It is easy to say we will do things that are actually beyond our capabilities. The reality is we cannot always keep such big promises. Ask yourself how many times have you fulfilled something that you have said or promised. If you have done so many times, it’s good, but if your honest answer is ‘no’, then it’s time to rethink.

It’s simply a question about responsibility and reliability. We expect from others to uphold their words and take actions in alignment with what they have said or promised. But most often we ourselves fail to do so.

This reflects the importance of consistency, trustworthiness and honesty in one’s actions. If someone follows their promises, it enhances their credibility and strengthens trust in their relationships with others. While on the other side, a failure to keep promises can lead to uncertainty and break trust on each other.

Do what you say you’ll do!

As kids, it feels good when your parents, teachers, or friends do what they promise. Like when mum says she will buy you ice cream after school and she actually takes you to the ice cream shop. Or when a friend says they will come over to play and they really do come over. This makes you happy and teaches you that you can count on and trust people.

What about you?

It has to be that way for you too — are you doing what you say you will do? Like if you tell your teacher you forgot your homework at home, is that true? Or you are just making it up? Or if you say you will help your mum set the table tonight, do you actually do it? This is called keeping your words or following through on commitments.

It matters because …

When you say you’ll do something and then actually do it, people learn they can rely on and believe in you. It makes you trustworthy. But if you often say you’ll do stuff and then don’t, nobody will trust your word anymore. Following through on tasks and promises makes you more accountable and responsible person. It also means that you took them seriously, rather than brushing them aside. It’s a key part of your personality trait.

Challenges to keeping promises

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for something you can’t do that you said — like an unexpected problem such as health-related, family-related or simply put, you forgot. Yes, even while having good intentions, we often forget about the promises we have made. The best way to avoid this situation is to write it somewhere you can see.

When others are involved

Sometimes it is not you, but others involved in your promises and commitments that make it hard for you to keep. For instance: when working with friends or classmates on projects, you might see them uninterested, unfocussed or simply doing nothing. Similarly, if your football team has to practice hard for an upcoming game, but some teammates don’t turn up for practice.

This and many more like this make the situation not in your favour and you might be considered a non-serious person. What works best is talking right away with patience and discussing solutions in a respectful way to the people involved.

Change of heart

Promising to do something, but finding yourself reluctant when the time arrives. Distractions like your favourite TV show or video game might become tempting obstacles. This is where you need to bring in a big change in yourself, whether you like it or not, you must do what you have said you will do. This gives you credibility and you must keep your word. At first, you will feel bad about going against your wishes, but later you will realise and feel the satisfaction of keeping your words.

Keep working on!

It takes practice, but being realistic and doing what you say, will make you trustworthy. So think big, but be wise in what you commit to. If you say you’ll do something, give it your best try with a good plan.

Matching words and actions takes effort, but is worth it!

Published in Dawn, Young World, January 20th, 2024

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