06 March 2010

Lesson #17: Do what you say you're going to do.

Hmm.  In light of my missed post the other day, this is a particularly timely lesson, and another one of those 'in progress' things.  Kids, today's topic is "Do what you say you're going to do."

I've struggled with this one.  I have been that person who is chronically late... who says that she will call or email and then never does... who makes plans, and then flakes out on them.  Who commits to something (say, a blog post a day), and then sometimes falls short.  I am happy to say, however, that it's getting better.

I think a large part of that is because I started thinking of:

  • what this habit said about me
  • how this habit affected other people
  • how this habit affected me, and
  • why I was behaving this way.
Let's take timeliness, for example.  I started thinking of this in a different way when I was having a conversation with a training partner about integrity.  He was talking about other peoples' - say, the integrity of a potential boyfriend - and made the following point: say you're meeting someone, and they tell you that they'll be there at 6:30.  You're ready at 6:30.  And they don't show.  They might come ten minutes late, they might come an hour late.  But they didn't come when they said they would.  So how can you tell if they're reliable in other ways?  Well... you can't.  If someone goes around breaking their word in one area, they might easily break their word in another.


I think, for a long time, my lack of follow through stemmed from the fact that I only looked inward.  I only thought about my timetable, and what I had to do.  That's not to say that there aren't times when circumstances - a commitment at work, for example - throw the schedule out of whack, and keep me in the lab far later than I otherwise think I'll be.  Traffic happens.  The usual suspects.  But those should be 'once in a while' things, or else I need to budget more time for that.

So I'm making the following changes:
  • I think about my time commitments and keep a detailed calendar.  I check it frequently, usually the first thing of the day.  
  • If I'm not sure I can do something, I don't commit with a 'yes'.  
  • I try to build in travel time.
  • Do I need to send a email? Call someone? Do something?  I write it down, or better, put it on the calendar, because I'm much more likely to get it done that way.
  • I ask myself: "Who is going to be waiting for me if I don't follow through?  What affect will this have on them?"
  • I ask: "What affect will this delay/change have on my own work?  What can I not get done, because I'm failing to do ____?"
  • If I do encounter an Unforseeable Circumstance.... I call, asap.
  • Checklists/ To Do lists are now my friends.

I'm finding that follow-through is extremely important.  My job is extremely self-driven, and requires me to set goals, but also to make them.  This is something I'm trying to improve every day.  In my job, and in my personal life, I understand that people make their own decisions based off of information that might include something I said I was going to do.  I don't want to screw over the people I work with, or the people I care about, so I need to hold up my end of the bargain.  Finally, I know I get annoyed when people tell me they'll do one thing, and then don't, or do another.  If I expect those around me to follow through on their word, I obviously need to do the same.  This is also a great way that I can, through my actions, be a person of honesty and integrity.

Have you ever had a problem with follow-through?  Is there a particular area where you procrastinate, or are extremely motivated?  What things do you do to keep yourself on track?  

No comments:

Post a Comment