One lesson I learned from my freelance writing jobs is I should not commit to an assignment if I can’t beat the deadline. The same goes for writing about topics which I am not very familiar about. But sometimes there are unavoidable situations which cause me to submit a paper late or in worse case, request it to be reassigned to another writer. The price I paid was steep. The fee for reassigning the paper to another writer was deducted from my salary and I was put on probationary status. Since then, I have been more careful in selecting my assignments and I have always tried to finish a paper at least an hour before a deadline even if it meant not sleeping for 24 hours straight.
Sadly, the same kind of penalty cannot be imposed for friends or relatives who do not keep their word. After all, friendship and any other form of human relation are complex in nature and cannot be caged in boundaries and rules that apply for instance in our work. We can always go back to the “we are just human” argument that we can’t control people, situations and decisions. We can’t always expect things to happen the way we imagined them.
True, there are very few things in life that we can control but the way we respond or handle a situation is something that will always be in our control. Failing to meet a commitment once is forgivable especially if the reason is an emergency, a life-changing situation or is of higher priority. However, if we repeatedly fail to honor a commitment, I think it is appropriate to look back at our actions and reflect why we made commitments in the first place.
Often times, we are afraid of disappointing other people so we give our yes even if we do not like whatever he or she is proposing. Then, at the very last minute, when we have determined our heart is not really into it, we back out. This situation, I think, is far more disappointing than being told outright “No, I can’t be there” or “No, I can’t do it”. If we keep doing the former, we lose our integrity and the trust that people placed in us. They may not want to engage our help or presence in the future due to our history of ghost promises and appearances.
More often than not, it is our word and actions that define us. If we want to count on others, then we should make people see that they can count on us too.