Confidence, Empower Yourself

Breaking your Commitments to Others

What happens when you break your commitment to others?

Ever commit to do something for someone and then fail to do it? How did you feel? More importantly, how did they feel?

I’ve seen what happens when a child or even teenager of divorced parents is waiting for their mom or dad to pick them up, to take them out somewhere, and the parent never shows up. They break their promise. It’s devastating. Heartbreaking actually.

I’ve also personally felt like a bag of crap handing in a late assignment to my mentor in university when I SWORE I would never hand in another late paper again.  I felt like I had let him down. I felt stupid and undeserving of his support.

I’ve also worked on various research teams and had people break their commitments and there was a whole chain reaction that happens…..1 person on the team didn’t make the deadline, ….so that held up the other team members from moving forward…they then missed a major deadline to a funding agent….the paper didn’t get submitted to the journal on time….just one person breaking their commitment had major consequences for an entire research team.

Breaking your commitments to others doesn’t just impact you, your grade, your course or your self-esteem. It has consequences for many others.

According to Moran and Lennington, the authors of the brilliant time management book, “The 12 Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months” breaking your commitments (whatever they are, whether academic or personal or professional), leads to

  • Loss of confidence in your abilities to manage your job/school/etc.
  • Loss of trust in you and what your word stands for.
  • Loss of integrity.
  • Relationship breakdown.

The authors recommend counting your costs before you make a commitment to others. They suggest weighing the benefits and costs of making a commitment and factoring in all the unexpected things that can happen. Can you still get it done on time? Can you still keep your word?

Usually people break their commitments because they’re over-extended, and certainly women are guilty of saying yes to everyone and putting themselves and their careers last.


  • You can say “no.” Before you make a commitment and say “yes,” it’s perfectly acceptable to say no to someone or something because it just doesn’t work for you. You don’t have to feel guilty, you don’t have to be a people-pleaser.
  • Is this commitment aligned with your long-term vision? If so, say yes, if not, feel free to disregard this request and say no. It’s a lot easier to keep your commitments if they align with your ultimate vision for yourself and help move you closer to fulfilling your potential.
  • If you commit, you must commit ALL THE WAY. There are no half-measure in commitment, you either commit or you don’t. That’s it.
  • Recognize that there will be fearful times, you will be overwhelmed and stressed and anxious, but you must push through these emotions to get to the other side where success awaits you.