The Danger of Making a Public Commitment

The Danger of Making a Public Commitment

It’s 5:30 pm on Thursday.

In my last post, I told you that I post on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

I thought I was safe to tell you that because I have been blogging three times a week for nearly two years.

It’s a habit. It’s what I do.

I like habits, schedules, and predictability.

I get up at 5. Our family eats dinner each night at 6. I put my kids to bed at 7:30.

On Sundays, I go to church then cook a big dinner (lunch) for our family, including my father-in-law, who joins us each week.

I take out the recycling on Wednesdays.

I make homemade pizza on Fridays.

For a long time, until work derailed me, I did laundry on Monday and Thursdays.

I blog on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Having a regular posting schedule has been important to me in blogging. Blogging is one of the things I do. On a schedule. Because schedules work for me.

Today, though, I woke up late. I had a full day of work commitments and an afternoon event with my girls.

All  day, though, I thought about my blog and the post I hadn’t had time to write.

This one.

The danger of making a public commitment to blogging — to anything — is that when we state commitments, we create expectations.

We create expectations in others and we create expectations for ourselves.

If I commit to do something, you expect me to follow through. If I don’t follow through, you are disappointed.

If I commit to do something, I expect to follow through. If I don’t, I am doing more than letting you down. I am disappointing myself, as well.

Because I am a leader who wants to make a difference, I need to do more than make public commitments, I need to follow through on those commitments.

Every time, even when it’s inconvenient.

Even when I might prefer to prop up my feet and read a novel.

Today, it’s blogging.

Tomorrow, I may be tempted to slack on some other, more weighty, commitment. When tempted, I want to make the right choice.

I will stick to smaller commitments so that being true to my word is what I do: a habit, a routine, what people expect.

The danger of making a public commitment is that someone will be watching, listening, and expecting.

The danger of making a public commitment is that you will hear your words as a reminder of what you said you’d do.

The danger of making a public commitment is that you might actually have to follow through.

Tell me something! What public commitments have you made? How has making a public commitment to something helped you to follow through?

P.S. Great comments on this post, both here and on my Facebook page. I appreciate how gracious you all are regarding expectations about posts here. I also appreciate people sharing about their public commitments. One of the biggest public commitments we make is to our marriages. Kudos to Jeff for his 30 year commitment, to Mike for 28. Our faith commitments are also central — Deb, thanks for sharing about yours here.

I hope you will all check out this post from Paul Marshall. Make sure you read the comments. It’s an excellent, creative, and insightful take on this topic.

Filed As:  blogging, commitment

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Those pesky commitments. I seem to always be committing and always over-committed. My big public commitment relates to the leadership community. I’d like us to be organized, visible and making a difference. I’m also committed to the Tulsa Leadercast and a local version of that community in Tulsa.

    Oh well, back to work. Mike…

  • I agree. I hate to give firm deadlines and commitments for this reason, at least publicly. I am not a schedule person though. I don’t do things the same way every week. But I try to hold myself to commitments I make to myself. I find it is easier to hold myself to public commitments though because I am held accountable. But I think everyone will let you off the hook once or twice on this one.

  • Becky –

    I have made many public commitments in my life, but the most important one I ever made was my public commitment to follow Jesus. The fact that I did that puts the spotlight on my life on a daily basis. Talk about accountability!! It reminds me of the time that we had a bumper sticker on the car that said something about being a Christ Follower. It actually helped me to have a better attitude while in the car driving. I kept thinking, “What would other drivers think of me and my Lord if I acted up behind the wheel?”

    Like you, I love predictability and schedules. Public commitments help to keep me on track and productive. (Even though I still like those times when the commitment has been fulfilled and I can sit with my feet up and read!)

  • On the other hand, just to take a differnet perspective. Making a public commitment and missing it (because of unforeseen circumstances), give those of us who are on your side a chance to “forgive” and encourage you. 🙂

    Glad to see you made it today, though. I would have missed you. 🙂

  • Your blogging just because you made a promise still beats many others who have nothing getting in the way. Very creative and thought-provoking, Becky:)

  • Becky, the POWER of a public commitment is that it is public. You force yourself to keep it. Big public commitments are compelling. My biggest one? To have and to hold, forsaking all others….. We have kept that one for almost 30 years.

  • Public commitments are there to keep you focused. Once the commitment becomes an obligation, then it is time to change your agreement. I am in that situation with the School Board I serve on. It is interesting as reading From Bud To Boss, change came up and me and my good intentions are just not working out. I hate quitting but I think the writing is on the wall. I guess I am making another public commitment!

  • Mmmm. My post last week was prompted by exactly the same feeling:

    It got me thinking though, who creates the expectations and what happens when we act because we think that others have expectations of us … but they don’t actually exist? Like you I felt the pressure and published something on last Tuesday (I have committed to publishing once a week). Like you, I think the most important expectation is the one I create for myself because not meeting that expectation may lead to places I choose not to go.

  • Becky! I love your blog!! And you are so right, public commitment can be tough…but it can also be just what you need to keep up with a goal.

    Will be following you. As a newbie blogger, I’m glad to have a slightly-less-new friend to follow and cheer on!

    Go, you!

  • We live with expectations all our life. What our parents expect. What our spouses expect. What our children expect. What we expect of ourselves.

    What if we lived moment to moment without any expectations? There might be a lot less disappointment.

    In the business world, this doesn’t work too well, since setting and then meeting expectations (around products, services, delivery, experience, and much more) is what business is all about. Yet we often get sucked into trying to meet unrealistic or impossible expectations.

    In my experience, in business and in life, is that if we cannot meet expectations or if we make a mistake, we only need to admit to it. Openly. Authentically. If we do so, it is rare that the other person won’t forgive their disappointment.

    The process of failing to meet an expectation, admitting to it, and then course correcting for the future can be a very powerful learning experience.


    David Greer

  • Hi Becky, Isn’t it interesting that there is a whole class of people who make public commitments all the time, rarely live up to them and the people to whom they commit don’t seem to remember or, maybe, have no expectations or just don’t care.

    They are called “politicians”:)

  • I committed to blogging three times per week. I even stated it in my “about” page. For insurance I determined a goal for a set queue of blogs to make sure I always have a blog ready when “life” happens. “Life” happened to me last week. I am in a similar position you were in when you wrote this blog. I am now trying to replenish my queue. Great post. Thanks for keeping it real!

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