If you had a friend who told you they’d be there to help you move on Saturday then didn’t show up, how would you feel?
Once, fine. Things happen. Every time? You’re not going to trust them any more. They’ve overdrawn the account. They might be there for the good times, but you won’t trust them to come through when the chips are down. You’ll stop asking them to do things.
Have you lost your own trust? Do you trust yourself to come through? You see every responsibility you shirk, every time you phone it in, every time you turn on The Bachelor instead of writing another 500 words.
This is a common reason not to plan: you don’t trust yourself to do anything about it. If you plan your day, you’re just going to ignore it and put out fires as they come up. If you create a budget, you’re just going to set it aside and make impulsive purchases until you figure out how to cover an emergency. You stop planning because it wastes time and creates guilt.
Here’s the secret: you’re not alone.
Everyone goes through this from time to time. We get ambitious. We take on too much. We don’t achieve everything we wanted to. If we aren’t careful, we start thinking we’re never going to get anything done.
A trust debt with yourself is just as real as a trust debt with someone else, but you can still pay it off.
Here’s how you earn back your own trust to get the job done.
- Start making deposits. You’ve overdrawn your account with yourself. It’s time to start making deposits again. Start small, where the stakes are low. Just like you’d ask an undependable friend to bring ketchup to a barbeque. Ketchup is nice to have, but nobody needs ketchup. Once you’ve shown yourself you can handle ketchup, step up to a bag of chips, then baked beans.
- Keep commitments fanatically. Close out your task list every day. If you can’t come through as originally agreed, renegotiate the commitment. I’d rather see you reschedule a task for another day than leave it unfinished and untouched at the end of the day. Rescheduling a task shows that you’re taking responsibility for it, even if you can’t take action that day.
- Put in the reps. Regaining trust takes time. You can’t make a single deposit that wipes out a history of overdrafts. You’ll need to make deposits until it’s a habit and you stop thinking about it. Establishing trust is a process, not an event.
- Develop your commitment muscles. After an injury, you adjust your workout routine, right? You rest if necessary, then start back with lighter weight and more reps. You get the movement back. You remind yourself of how the exercise is supposed to feel. It’s okay if you feel like you’re going through the motions—you’ve seen The Karate Kid. There’s a muscle memory to keeping commitments, too.
- If you lose traction, ease up. Sometimes, all you need to do to get traction back is to ease up off the accelerator and try again, a little more slowly. You’re not permanently lowering your expectations of yourself, but acknowledging that you’re not at 100%. Meet yourself where you are, just like you’d work with someone else who’s trying to change.
The process is pretty much the same when rebuilding your trust with someone else. You may need to do more to prove your desire to change is sincere. When trust is low, costs rise quickly when others are involved. All the more reasons to pay off the trust debt as quickly as you can.
If you’re going to achieve great things, you need to trust yourself to get the job done. It isn’t always easy going. When you stumble, pick yourself up and move forward. Earn back your trust. You’ll be happier and more productive.