When I was in my late twenties, one of the life-changing lessons I learned was as follows:
“Life works when you keep your agreements”.
It had a profound affect on me.
You think “Of course you should keep your agreements, what’s new about that?”
Well it isn’t how we all act.
It certainly wasn’t how I acted.
Like everyone else I would make lots of agreements.
I would agree in order to avoid conflict.
“Can we meet on Tuesday for a drink?”
“Can you write this copy?”
“Can you be on time for this meeting?”
“Can you call me immediately after the meeting?”
I’d agree because I didn’t want to upset them, because I wanted to be a nice guy.
It seemed like a small thing to say “Yeah, of course.”
Then, when it got near the time, things might change.
If the train was late, if it was raining, if I had a better offer, if I didn’t feel like it, if it was inconvenient.
So I made lots of agreements, but I only actually kept the ones I felt like keeping.
I was unfocussed, I wasted energy inventing excuses, avoiding people, pretending, feeling bad.
That’s why life didn’t work as well as it could.
It was cluttered, messy, unfocussed.
I was agreeing to things without committing to them.
That’s the difference.
When I made an agreement to do something, like most people, that wasn’t what I meant.
What I meant was “Yeah, if I still feel like it later.”
I’d make an agreement then, often, not keep it.
I’d find an excuse then complain about how unfair it was when the other person got angry.
But then, in a seminar, I heard the maxim: “Life works when you keep your agreements.”
And I thought, let’s examine that carefully.
That doesn’t mean “Life works when you make lots of agreements.”
It means you only make agreements you know you’re going to keep whatever happens.
Consider the agreement carefully before you make it.
If it isn’t an agreement you’re prepared to keep NO MATTER WHAT don’t make it.
Don’t make the agreement in the first place.
Sure the person you’re with may be disappointed, but that will be a smaller problem.
Compared to the much larger problem later on, of not keeping the agreement.
Of the polluting effect that has on your life.
Examining every agreement before you make it will make you examine what you’re doing more thoroughly.
What you’re prepared to commit to and what not.
Your life becomes more focussed, your communication much clearer and cleaner.
You waste less time on things you don’t want to do.
You waste less time on conflict.
Because you waste less time avoiding conflict by passive lying.