Keeping promises

The importance of keeping promises to deliver on your plan.

Some of the most effective people I’ve met are good at one thing – keeping promises to themselves.

They achieve a lot because they make a short term commitment and simply follow through until the end, even if the outcome is already clear.

This is different to staying with something that is not working over the long term. The point is to find out what goes wrong when trying to complete this short task.

What gets in your way? What was unexpected? What turned out as expected?

The benefit of observing what was unexpected and counting unexpected events is the next plan can include an actual number of unexpected events.

You’re starting to build uncertainty into planning, you’re making your process more robust. You will be more calm when something interrupts you because you’ve got an alternative lined up. and can tie in your requirement to get back on track at that time, helping communicate with your family / loved ones ahead of time.

If you focus on did I win or lose in this short term goal? This creates a negative atmosphere and sense of failure when unexpected events derail your outcomes. The more your mindset switches to observation of the expected outcome vs the actual outcome, the less blame you’ll feel for things which are outside your control but you will start to be aware how unexpected events impact your results.

Unexpected events occur every day. They should be called expected events!

Things like having a blackout, having to drop the kids off when you had planned to do your review of overnight markets, getting called in to do an extra shift, getting stuck with a deadline at work, having to change nights for football training. Your partner books dinner without telling you and there’s an obligation to go. The baby didn’t sleep when you thought you’d have an hour to watch the “how to” video on programming a spreadsheet to speed up your analysis.

People who are focused on high performance know things will get in the way. This is why most high performing people I know don’t seem to have particularly interesting lives outside of their performance area. They have cleared a space in their lives to achieve.

In the world of your head, having confidence that you can deliver on internal promises adds powerful meaning to your plans. Practising keeping promises in all aspects of your life will help you have clearer conversations,

Things that can help you deliver on your promises

  • Share your short term goal with those involved, such as “I’m aiming to make $1,000 this month, which is $250 this week”
  • Showing hardship or that you’re finding something difficult especially when it seems basic “I can’t get this thing to work and it’s making me frustrated”
  • Accepting logical solutions when other people suggest them. Ignoring things that makes sense undermines your credibility. The next step is to acknowledge what the trade off is with that approach and how it compares to your current approach.
  • Communication. Get people used to feeding you information so you are less likely to get ambushed by other people’s events – what are you doing this week? what have you got planned? What day and time is that? People don’t always specifically say what they need you for, so anticipation and setting expectations is important – ok you have a school thing on Wednesday night – do I need to drop you off… ? If I do drop off then I’ll need to reschedule the gym on Thursday morning so I can do my trading journal.
  • Accept people’s offer to help – it shows you need help, saves you time and makes them feel good. If you try to do too much it’s unlikely you’ll make satisfying progress in trading.
  • Make sure it’s a small goal, the point is to build on small successes and establish a track record.

Things I’ve found made delivering on promises harder:

  • Telling people my big dream “I’m going to make a million dollars and retire by the time I’m 30.” (FAIL).
  • Telling people a time frame for achieving something when you’ve never done it and don’t know anyone who has. It sounds unrealistic and probably makes people doubt your knowledge/preparation.
  • Getting angry at people for interrupting my plans (especially when they don’t know I have them)
  • Keeping my losses secret (this was pretty hard the first couple of times). I recently told my wife I lost $10k because I made a mistake and she just said “be careful babe”. More than anything I felt like she cared about me and still loved me even though I felt stupid. I also had a similar feeling when I told my family about a bad loss. It was also liberating to share the secret and helped me to move on.