How to be so unapologetically flakey that people actually take you seriously.
Earlier today I published a blog post called “The Art of Not Making Promises“. In the post, I shared that I’m now enjoying a weird and wonderful new brand of freedom that I’ve never experienced, after having spent 2 years extricating myself out of so many promises that I’d made in my life and business that weren’t authentic.
I spent the rest of today, doing the topic more justice by sharing the actual practical how-to’s on what I have learned about how not to make promises that I won’t end up wanting to keep.
Here are my 12 best Practical Tips on the Practice of Not Making promises, to help you create a future free of BS commitments.
#1: “That sounds great. Can we check-in in a few days about that?”
This option is so simple, and yet, most of us are in rapid-response mode…having learned that a success behaviour is to make quick decisions. (Whoever taught us that was likely a stress case)
I’ve found that one of my favourite behaviours is to make slow decisions and to take my time.
If you ask me if I’d like to go for dinner on Wednesday this would be my response. “That sounds great. Can we text and check-in later in the week about that?”
I’m not sure if I’ll feel like going for dinner with you on Wednesday. I’ll get a better sense of that as my week unfolds. I want to be available to the flow of life.
#2: Month-to-Month offerings
I have given myself considerable freedom and peace of mind by no longer offering full-pay options. Working with me is on a month to month basis, so that both parties are free to leave the agreement at any time.
When someone starts to work with me, they read through my ‘Terms of Engagement’ page which includes a clear outline of how both of us can end the agreement at anytime and the play-by-play of how, exactly we are both free to extricate ourselves from our agreement at anytime.
“We are playful when we engage others at the level of choice when there is no telling in advance where our relationship with them will come out – when, in fact, no one has an outcome to be imposed on the relationship, apart from the decision to continue it.”
James P. Carse
#3: Use your Human Design to Protect You from Misaligned Promises.
Human Design offers some very specific and helpful guidance about how to make decisions that will be sustainable and in alignment for you.
These instructions are found in two main places in your chart:
1) Your Type’s “Strategy” and
2) Your Decision Making Authority
For example, my type is a Generator, and I know that the right things for me are coming to me. Therefore, I have eliminated a tonne of wasted time and energy on bogus promises simply by stopping my former tendency to initiate things.
In the past, if I had a great idea I might use that as a reason to do something. Now, I know that my mind manufactures about 10 great ideas a day and that the right things for me will be affirmed and confirmed that they are right for me via something tangible in my outer-reality.
Also, knowing that I’m a Generator, I make sure that I actually have energy to sustain my decisions. I wonder, do I really have the life-force to fulfill on this promise?
Also, my decision-making authority is Emotional. Which means I need to take my time with my decisions so that I’m not at all nervous or emotional about what I’m deciding to do. I used to think that feeling high or excited about something meant that I should do it. Now, I understand that I am not meant to make decisions from any emotional high or low, but rather a clear and calm, solid sense of knowing.
This awareness has saved me so much time and energy.
To find out what your Type and Decision-Making Authorist are, you can look up your chart for free here: https://www.humandesignamerica.com
The hour that you devote to learning this stuff about yourself will pay dividends to you in cold-hard cash within the next month… I promise ; )
#4: Pressure is a Sign-post of Ego-Mind Interference that will Lead to Bogus Promises
So many of us are living in a pressured reality. “Get this done…NOW! It needs to be done! I’m launching this on a tight timeline.”
I was just on a group call and one of my colleagues was making a decision on whether or not to invest $4000 in a specific thing for her marketing. It sounded like a good package…but there was pressure. And there was hype. I was suspicious if this was really the best thing for her.
I have come to see that pressure is like a smelly fish. It’s fishy. Something is off when there’s pressure. If it’s needing pressure in order to come into being, then chances are there is something egoic, something forced about it.
It’s time to take a step back, get some distance and re-evaluate.
The promises that you make from a pressured state are never going to turn out as well as those ones that you make through clarity and calm. Give it some time and space and the way forward will reveal itself.
#5: Don’t Make a Decision
This is possibly my favourite tool! Instead of making a decision about something, I make no decision. I decide that I won’t decide. In many cases, the choice that once seemed so pressing and important will magically just evaporate.
In this case, it obviously wasn’t that important and ‘hurrah’ I wasted no time or energy thinking about it. Victory!
In other cases, life decides and makes the way forward so impossibly clear that I couldn’t legitimately say that “I decided” to say Yes to it, but rather, it just happened. A door opens and a hand is placed on my low back gently guiding me forward. All things Flow are moving me downstream and I go without thought.
#6: If it’s not a clear decision (if there’s doubt) then you’re not clear. And a not-clear decision leads to a murky promise.
I used to use a lot of mental energy and time wondering about if something was right for me or not. I would go over and over the pros and cons, asking friends and colleagues what I should do. I was absorbed in the dilemma of the decision.
And then, I realized, if it’s not clear, it’s not clear. If it’s not clear, there’s something murky about the decision. There’s something ‘off’ about it that I ought to pay attention to.
And I would begin to either a) get curious about what is off and see if I could re-arrange it to make it ‘on’ or b) Decide not to make a decision
This option reminds me of what Osho says:
“If your room is dark, just bring light in. Even a small candle will do, and the whole darkness disappears. And once you have a candle you know where the door is. You don’t have to think about it: “Where is the door?” Only blind people think about where the door is. “
People who have eyes and the light is there, they don’t think. Have you ever thought “Where is the door?” You simply get up and go out. You never give a single thought to where the door is. You don’t start groping for the door or hitting your head against the wall. You simply see, and there is not even a flicker of thought. You simply go out.”
This is the kind of clarity that an aligned decision comes from. You just know. You just do. You’re not hemming and hawing. Hemming and hawing is a sign of lack of alignment. It’s saying “don’t go. something’s off.” Now, I pay attention to that.
#7 If a promise feels limiting in a not-good way, then give yourself options for an out.
I experienced this one a lot with attempting to craft an agreement with my clients that I could live with and that would really honour my nature.
As I considered what to include, there were a few things that felt off to me.
One was scheduling.
I like having appointments with my clients, but I really don’t like it when I’m in a day of melancholic journalling and relishing in feeling crappy and having to switch gears into being a productive, high-value-providing Coach.
I also don’t like it when I’ve made an appointment, and it means that I need to miss an incredible opportunity that arises spontaneously and magically through life circumstances that seem clearly like what I ought to be doing.
When I was more concerned with being responsible, I would just buck-up and show-up to my calls on those days. I made a point of never missing an appointment. I was working under the influence of one of my mentor’s who had advised me that I should focus on learning how to become more ‘count-on-able’.
But the truth about that was…it made me hate coaching.
Because my truth was, in that moment, I didn’t WANT to coach. I wanted to lie on my couch and sulk, listen to music and write in my journal. I wanted to do the magical thing that was presenting itself that day. And I resented having to keep my promise to honour my word.
Keeping my appointment, however honourable, wasn’t authentic for me.
And so, when I decided to start working 1-1 again, I did so on an upfront condition that is now a part of my “Terms of Engagement” Page. (LINK) You can check it out at the link but the gist of it is, that I have an agreement with my clients that either of us can cancel and reschedule our appointment the day of, by texting. This was such a relief and a huge gift of freedom that I gave myself.
It rarely happens, but I love the freedom. And actually, it more often happens that my clients will use this option and they are so gratefully relieved to be able to attend to the thing that is pressing for them that day, rather than to have to show up to our call because they said that they would.
The second area where this showed up for me is in Content Creation.
When I most recently created the “Human Design for Leaders” program. I was worried about creating the video content since it was a lot of videos that needed to be created. I knew it would take months. I was afraid that if I told the group I would create X number of videos per month that I wouldn’t be able to do it.
In my past programs, I’d had the uncomfortable experience of promising X content modules/month and then also not enjoying creating them…putting them off and dreading the creation because I said I’d do it. I had created a lot of content this way, and I didn’t want to do it anymore.
So, this time, I was just up-front about it. I told the group that I’d be creating the content on my own timing and as I felt inspired to do so. I gave them an idea of what the content would be but gave myself the leeway I needed in order to have creative freedom. I didn’t want to have to deliver it in a certain way, or on a certain timeline.
I also included a clause in the terms of engagement for that program about the content creation that said this: I reserve the right to shift the mode of delivery for our work together if a better way presents itself. Should this happen you will be well informed as to why and how the changes will take place. And of course, if the changes don’t suit you, you are always free to go.
#8 Make trial promises
My friend and I used to collaborate in business together. Together we earned hundreds of thousands of dollars. And we kept our financial agreements simple. Everything was always up for negotiation. We always wanted things to feel good. We would make agreements based on a per project, or per event basis.
So for example, we might decide that for a particular event a certain price point made sense for our offering and that a certain profit-share would also work for us. But then, for the following event, we would change the price point and profit-share. It was always based on what seemed aligned for the time. We never expected the agreement to stay the same.
I loved the freedom of this and making decisions with her always felt good. During the negotiation conversation, we would both be as honest and open about anything and everything as possible…doing our best to articulate every last little niggle that seemed even remotely ‘off’.
Overall, it was an extremely happy and prosperous partnership with very few promise-related bumps.
The “trial promise” option could also apply if you’re launching a new offering, but you’re not sure that you’ll love delivering it. You could let people know that you’re offering it for 3 months on a trial basis and that if it works out, you’ll continue from there monthly. This gives you the leeway to exit after the trial period is over.
#9 Just be honest
Most people understand, DEEPLY understand, what it’s like to agree to something that no longer feels good. They know that feeling of bondage and how uncomfortable it is.
If you’ve made a promise that doesn’t feel good for you, you always have the option to be honest about it. Let the people that you’re in an agreement with know what’s happening for you, and explore options for how to change the agreement or how to exit the promise gracefully.
#10 Treat Promises with a Degree of Gravity – aka. Be Awkward Not Likeable.
Extricating yourself from a Promise is SO MUCH HARDER than learning how not to make the promise in the first place.
Learning how not to make a promise is also hard.
Because it’s so lovely to be ‘that’ girl who says YES. It’s so gratifying to please others. It’s so lovely to be a ‘man of your word.’ It’s so much in keeping with what the world wants us to be.
On the other hand, it’s so awkward to be that person that asks about the fine-print. It’s so annoying to be the person that speaks to the hidden agendas and expectations. It’s so unattractive to delay a decision until there’s clarity.
It’s so flakey to appear like a non-committal flake.
And yet, I have come to truly understand on an energetic level the life-sucking cost of making inauthentic promises. So much so, that I am much more willing to be awkward and to appear non-committal to others.
I’ve experienced the pain of making promises that I don’t want to keep so many times. I’m less willing to experience that pain.
Treat your promises with gravity and be willing to be awkward.
#11 Become Aware of Your Leadership Vulnerabilities.
Yesterday I was assisting a client to clarify her Passion statement (part of the Discover your Genius process.) Part of her passion statement is about enjoying “companionship”.
She realized and owned that she loves to be in connection with another person. As a projector, this is really natural. Projectors are designed to focus on another, and specifically, one at a time.
And yet, this had also played out as a vulnerability for her. Her desire for companionship had lead her into relationships and agreements with others in which she was accepting sub-par arrangments and dishonouring behaviours, simply to receive the companionship that she so loves.
As we brought this area of both strength, and vulnerability to light, she is now more prepared to create true and honouring companionship.
From a Human Design perspective, the centres in our design that are undefined present us with leadership vulnerabilities which, without our awareness of them, can very easily lead us into promises that we won’t really want to keep.
For example, people that have the emotional centre undefined (the Solar Plexus), will often end up doing things just to keep the people around them happy. They don’t want to make any waves, because if the people around them are upset, they will be the ones who take in that un-processed emotional energy through their undefined centre.
The conditioning impact of our undefined centres is so profound. When I discovered this, I realized that most of my behaviours were driven by these centres. It’s a tricky topic to do justice in a few paragraphs, so I’ll spare myself, and you. Here’s the link to videos on all 9 of the Undefined Centres, so that you can learn about yours.
#12 Unearth Hidden Agendas and Expectations, Yours and Theirs.
In agreements with others, hidden agendas are so often present, but unconscious. They are hidden even from ourselves. And it is these unconscious agendas that eventually make themselves known, and wreck havoc in our relationships.
Similarly, we often enter into agreements with others with unspoken expectations. And then, when those expectations aren’t met, we feel betrayed and upset.
Before entering into an agreement, ask yourself what your hidden agendas are. And what are your expectations of this agreement. Then, bring these into the conversation.
Keep your Future Clean by Being Flakey
There you have it. All of my best tactics, so far, on how to avoid making promises that you won’t end up wanting to keep.
Some people may judge this as being “flakey”. I’ve come to see it differently. I’ve come to see being ‘flakey’ as a healthy thing. That more of us really ought to embrace our inner flake and commit our energies to fewer things.
The effect of doing so feels so healthy and full of life to me, experientially, that I wish this experience for you and everyone I know. I’d love to hear your stories as you experiment with these.
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