One great problem that many of us have is meeting deadlines and getting things done. In short, doing what we are supposed to do. We have good intentions, but we get distracted or we procrastinate. This can lead to all sorts of problems professionally and in our relationships. Who wants to work with someone or be friends with someone who is not dependable? After a while, people get tired of it. It doesn’t matter how “nice” you are. You need to be dependable!

Are you dependable?

Here’s a little test. How many of these five phrases (or variations thereof) do you use consistently?

  1. “I’ll try to…”
  2. “I might be able to…”
  3. “I should have it done by…”
  4. “I hope to…”
  5. “I’ll probably do it soon…”

All of these phrases have one thing in common. They betray that you are not very serious about the task at hand. You have given yourself an “out” which means that in your own mind, you have created a sense of doubt about whether you are going to do something. Occasionally this is warranted and necessary. Most of the time, however, you are just avoiding accountability. Whether you consciously realize it or not, you are making room for excuses. If you were really serious, you would use more specific, commitment-oriented language.

Here are some simple ways to improve your mindset. You not only have to change what you say, you have to truly mean it and follow through on it. 

  1. Instead of “I’ll try to…”  — Say, “I will…”
  2. Instead of “I might be able to…” — Say, “I will do everything in my power to…” 
  3. Instead of “I should have it done by…” — Say, “I will have it done by…” 
  4. Instead of “I hope to…” — Say, “I plan to…” or “I expect to…” 
  5. Instead of “I’ll probably do it soon.” — Say, “I will do it by [insert date and time].” 

The examples above show much more commitment. The more specific you are in making a commitment, the more concrete the necessary action becomes in your own mind. That leads to a greater probability of success.

Try it. Quit making excuses. Be brave. Be specific. Bind yourself to dates and times. Make a commitment and then follow through.

Excuses are for cowards.