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Three Steps to the Art of Following Through
Have you ever asked someone to do something and they say, “I’ll try”? Odds are they aren’t going to follow through. To try means to make an attempt but it also alludes to the stark reality of the probability of failure. When we tell others or ourselves, we will try…we crack open the escape hatch of evasion. Think about it…”I’d like to try and start working out every day” vs. “I will go to the gym three days a week, go for a run three days a week and take Sunday off.” Which statement will produce true results? One is an idea and the other is a plan. What is the one thing in your life you would like to accomplish? Are you thinking about “trying” or are you committing to making it happen?
I’ll never forget being in a counseling session with my mother. The therapist gave my mom a specific assignment to work on that would greatly improve our relationship. Her answer, “I’ll try.” In his wisdom he said, “I’d like you to try and pick up that book next to you.” Mom reached over and picked up the book. The therapist said, “No, I didn’t say to pick up the book, I said to try…try again.” After about three rounds my mom finally got it. Trying would not be enough. And sadly, she never followed through on her assignment.
How can we improve our relationship with others, follow our hearts and achieve our goals and dreams? Here are three steps that will help you set off in the right direction and avoid falling through the escape hatch of avoidance.
Commit! I have been working on a writing project for a couple of months. I get stuck every time I open this looming document. I do a little work on it. get overwhelmed and then just shut it down. I told the person waiting on this piece that I would try and get it to them as soon as possible. However, I am really having trouble completing the task. So, I sent the following message, “I am committed to finishing my press kit this weekend.” Now that’s a different statement all together. Now that I am committed to the task…I must finish it. My word relies on it. So, I have asked for some much needed help from a friend and know I will get it completed.
Take the word try out of your vocabulary. Like it says in Matthew 5:37, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” If your heart is saying “No”, but your mouth is saying, “I’ll try”, let’s face it…you are not going to complete the task at hand. Whether it is a project, an appointment or a commitment to be somewhere, “I’ll try” isn’t going to get you to the finish line. We cause great conflict in our own soul when we attempt to please people by being non-committal. Notice, I said attempt…when we don’t follow through as we know our heart is leading us to do, the person we wanted to please is left in the lurch anyway. They would be better off with the initial disappointment of a solid no.
Need to think? Give a specific deadline. If you really aren’t sure about a request, it is ok to take time to think about it. But, commit to a specific timeline to get back to the person who asked. I love it when people say, “Let me pray about it.” This often turns out to be a standard way to not actually give an answer. Who is going to argue with someone who says they need to pray? Don’t be wishy-washy! Take time to think or pray but let the person you just put off know when they can expect a definitive answer. “I’ll pray about it and get back to you before Tuesday of next week.” Then, follow through with your prayer inspired answer. This goes both ways. If you get the “I’ll pray about it” brush off, ask when you can expect an answer, or give the person your deadline, “Ok – please get back to me by Monday”
We all have times in life when we lack follow through or fail at something we set out to do. And, we have all heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That is great advice. Never give up on your hopes and dreams! But, when you are getting up and brushing yourself off after a fall, rather than just thinking about trying again…take a step of action and commit to a new plan.
We live in a society of indecisive people. I love being around people who are honest and determined to follow through with their decisions. These are the people who make things happen, who rarely disappoint and who you can depend on. This is the person I want to be. In our relationships with others we can develop a new positive attitude by letting our yes be yes, and our no be no.