I remember as a child always being reminded to be a person of integrity, meaning that I should do what I said I would do and that I should complete the things that I started. What I didn’t realize is that these qualities would somehow differentiate those who are successful from the rest. I don’t mean to say that you can never quit anything, but it is hard to judge any experience or activity unless you give it sufficient time.

Anyone who has ever bought a house or a new car has had the experience of being bombarded with page after page of disclosures, disclaimers, and terms of purchase. Some of the best business and legal advice of modern times is to “put it in writing”. So what ever happened to the value of your word and the concept of integrity? I am by no means suggesting that business should be conducted without contracts, but what I am suggesting is that we all live with integrity and that we regard the value of our word with the utmost importance.

Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. ~ don Miguel Ruiz

While most of us are likely to keep our word when we have promised something to someone else, we frequently let ourselves down. Have you ever noticed that you have the same New Year’s resolutions year after year? Have you ever decided to change a thought or behavior only to find that you revert back to the same ones? This is because at some point, you made the first exception. One of the most common defense mechanisms is rationalization. For example, “I am too tired to exercise today so I will do it tomorrow.” When tomorrow comes, it is likely that you will rationalize yet again, and before you know it, you have fallen back into your old pattern of not exercising. This creates animosity in your own mind, which is a low-level energy that will drag you down.

When you tell yourself that you will do something, do it!

In order to gain clarity on your level of integrity, I would like to suggest a simple exercise. Get an empty jar or container that would be good for collecting change. Each time you find that you “lie” to yourself or others, you don’t follow through with something that is important to you, you speak negatively about others, etc., put a coin (or bill) in the jar. You decide the denomination of the currency, but make it an amount that will impact you. Do this for at least two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, donate the money to your spiritual source or the charity of your choice. You can repeat this exercise over and over again as an awareness tool.

Keeping our word to others and to ourselves is something to which many of us do not give a second thought. The next time you decide that you will commit to something, take a moment to think about whether or not you are truly capable and committed to following through and honoring your word. Make sure that it is something that you truly intend to do, and if not, then learn to say “no”. Write down your commitments and put them into your schedule.