Failed New Year’s resolutions, missed meetings, a failed business merger: what do all of these have in common? They all stemmed on talk that lacked the intent to follow-through. All too often we find ourselves committing, promising, or pitching ideas without recognizing the action steps that naturally follow.

Continually committing yourself to events or ideas without closing them sets up an environment where those behaviors can begin to feel normal. Most people, however, don’t find this behavior professional or reputable. Social media has played a big part in this lack of follow through. How often have you found yourself clicking “yes” to attending a small rock concert for your distant cousin’s band (a type of music you don’t care for)? Not to mention that the “liking” and “tweeting” culture that social media has produced is one that causes many people to “act now” and “think later”.

If you’re reading this article, recognizing behaviors that you exhibit, it isn’t too late to change! Begin by only committing to absolutely attainable behaviors, and keep these promises to yourself. Several ways to do this are by:

  • Breaking tasks up in to manageable sizes (e.g. responding to 5 emails instead of cleaning out the entire inbox before your afternoon hot yoga class).
  • Prioritizing. This means choosing several tasks that you can easily say “yes!” to and follow through with. These should be very few to begin, so that you get in the practice of following through!
  • Saying “no”. If something simply isn’t of importance or interest, politely decline. This could means saying no to attending a meeting that is in a different department that you were cc’d on. By saying no, you’ll feel less burden — and less guilt when you don’t go!

The more you practice following through, the more confident you will become when you say to “Yes! Absolutely! You have my word!”, because you will know that you have the intent to follow through. Your coworkers and clients will appreciate it!