The Rewards of Honoring Commitments

by Tess on March 11, 2010

Elderly Woman Creative Commons License photo credit: doortoriver

A while ago my hubs volunteered me to edit a manuscript written by our 80 year old, dear friend, Caroline.

I now understand editors earn every cent they charge!

Several times while reading her book I wanted to quit.
I wanted to drop it off on her doorstep, ring the door bell and run.
I know that sounds cruel. I'm being honest here!
It was slow going and I was very frustrated. It wasn't some thing I wanted to do with my free time.
I now realize why my hubs thought I would be perfect for the job. He knew I'd stick with it. He knew I'd be brave enough to explain how much work still needed to be done.
Last week her son called to inquire how the editing was going. I told him my honest opinion, "I'm almost finished but the book needs a lot of work!"
He asked for details and later got very defensive. I would be defensive too, if someone was criticizing my aging mother's book!
It wasn't easy to tell him, but I felt he needed to know. I didn't want his mother to be disappointed when she saw the damage done by my read pen!
I finished editing the book a couple hours ago. I finally feel good about the experience. I did my best. I kept my word.  My job is finished.
So why didn't I quit?
Why didn't I drop it off and run? One word..commitment.
I gave Caroline and my hubs my word, I said I would do the editing and I did.
I'm finished now and I'm left with a happy heart.
Another reason? I care.
I have compassion for older adults. I put myself in Caroline's shoes and asked, "Who will help me when I'm 80 years old? Will anyone care what I think or write?" I don't have the answer to that but…
I hope some will care enough to help me when I'm old…even if I need a lot of work!
Is there a commitment you've had a hard time keeping lately?

What kept you going?

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    { 31 comments… read them below or add one }

    Eduard @ People Skills Decoded March 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    For me, the best benefit of honoring commitment is trust. When people can count on you to do what you said you will, they can trust you. And this can simplify social dynamics a lot.

    PS: changed my blog name :)


    Lori March 11, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    (Hi Eduard, I like your blog’s new name.) ;)

    Hi Tess,
    Thanks for being open and honest about the commitment you have made. And, good for you for following it through — it must have meant a lot to you to continue.
    Bravo, girl!

    I’ve been very careful about the commitments I’ve made this and last year. When I DO make them, I do everything in my power to keep them. Right-o!

    Happy day to you.
    .-= Lori´s last post…Omm Writer =-.


    Wilma Ham March 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Tess.
    Wow, commitment is indeed an action and does requires courage.
    I can imagine how your ‘tough love’ was hard to do, especially when it is not accepted in the spirit it was given. However good for you and you are staying on that pedestal.
    For me commitment has to do with being in-integrity, a hot topic for me.
    You were in-integrity and yes as Eduard says, people who are in-integrity can be trusted.
    The world would be a better place if being-in-integrity was how we lived our lives.
    If we stopped over promising, if we stopped blaming or being defensive when we ask for feedback, if we stopped hiding out as if we are NOT responsible.
    My commitment to learning is a difficult one to keep, I do have a tendency to accept things of lesser quality, do things not to a level I would like and then complain afterwards.
    But as you and I keep saying, accepting that we are a work in progress will take care of that. It allows me to observe, let go of my own defensiveness and get on with improving.
    And I am sure you will have a lot of people who care to keep you on your pedestal. I am in :~) xox Wilma
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last post…Wilma on Our out-of-integrity world =-.


    Patricia March 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I have honored my commitments but over time I am much more careful about what I commit too – maybe it is wisdom.
    I promised my father, as he was dying, I would marry my husband and take care of my Mother when she needed assistance. My husband is disappointing me right now because he is avoiding helping me with our finances and just keeps doing the same ol’ same ol’ which then I have to figure out….which makes me feel like I am promoting his avoidance and I am in the work zone all by myself.
    He is also angry that I am ill – again, and about the economy failing right near retirement, which is now impossible – he will have to work for at least 12 more years just to get out of this hole…
    Who knew that my mother’s years and years of teaching, she would not be grandfathered into the health care plan and that she would live – bright and sharp until 94 and she fractured her spine…Who knew that caring for her 24/7 and a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder would make me so ill and burn out my adrenal system…and result in so much pain and fatigue…?
    I think I will end up being proud of myself and figuring all this out to good results…and I too am not afraid to say what needs to be said…
    I too think I will care for my partner in his end days and that there may be no money or anyone to do the extra care for me….It is part of being a certain age, and a reality check…
    Thank you for editing the book…and keeping your commitments. It is a really big deal…:)
    .-= Patricia´s last post…Ecotopia ~ Ernest Callenbach, A Relook at an Inspiring Book =-.


    Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord March 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Wow, that’s a pretty intense story, and I say that knowing how frustrating it can be to get knee-deep into something and want to bail out. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve had to keep any commitments… Isn’t that funny? Or odd might be the better word. I’ve lived most of my life with the idea that if things get really bad, I can bail. That doesn’t mean I don’t try my best at the things I do, but it also doesn’t mean I take on exceedingly difficult asks very often.

    You have me wondering when that mentality showed up in me? I’d love to say it’s when my father walked out (I was ten), but honestly, I don’t know.

    All I know is that our world needs people like you who live up to their word. I’m going to be more cognizant of this moving forward, thanks to you.
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last post…Life, Death, and Reflection =-.


    Evita March 11, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Tess

    What you did was in one word – amazing! I so love that you followed through with the task.

    There are times when we do commit to something and when the day or moment comes, we may really not want to follow through. And there are times where I think that is okay, and there are times where I think we should follow through. In this case, I would have done the exact same thing.

    One of the things I really admire so much is empathy, and this whole example is rich with so many virtues, and for me empathy really shines so brightly – as do you :)
    .-= Evita´s last post…To Do Or Not To Do? (Can I Get A Sign, Please?) =-.


    Catrien Ross March 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Tess, I am new here – thank you for this thought-provoking post. Someone who honors commitments also needs to draw on personal wisdom because we live in a real world where many people never think about sticking to “commitments” they make. I sense your husband’s pride in your writing abilities and character in setting you up for this commitment. But Patricia’s comment shows what can happen when we accept commitments that may not be deeply in accord with our own intuition or wishes. I think that we need to be vigilant about self-honesty in our reactions and responses. And I also think that there are times when it becomes impossible to keep our previous commitments because the situation or circumstances or inner validation has changed. Renegotiation or reframing of the original commitment then becomes necessary if we are to remain true to our own intentions, or, as Wilma says, continue to be “in-tegrity.” Much to think about, Tess, thank you. Warm wishes from the mountains in Japan – Catrien Ross.


    Patty - Why Not Start Now? March 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Tess – I’m like Lori, needing to be careful of what I take on to ensure that I can actually keep the commitment. Otherwise, I have a tendency to take on too much! And I love your story not just for what you write about commitment, but for the courage you had to be honest about the book itself. It would have been so easy to say, “it’s great.” Or even easier for you to make only a few red marks with your pen, as you saw what you were getting into, and then say the rest was just fine. Very inspiring. Thanks, Tess.
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last post…At the End of the Day, A Poem About Happiness =-.


    Davina March 11, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Congrats on reaping the rewards of perseverance Tess! I recently committed to a proofreading project that meant I had to work through last weekend. It was difficult to focus because it had come up at the last minute and I wasn’t psyched up to work. However, I made sure to make some time for myself, even though my mind kept wanting me to make it harder and ONLY work. I made time for myself and the job still got done on time.
    .-= Davina´s last post…A Sacred Space Is Not Always Sunny =-.


    Lana-{Daring Clarity} March 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Dear Tess, I honestly wouldn’t expect you to do anything different than what you did. I think integrity and reliability are two of the core characteristics of who you are .

    I noticed that recently I was very annoyed by people who are not keeping their commitments. After thinking about it more, I realized that if I want people around me to do what they say they would do, I’d better straighten up my own act. I can’t say that I am bad at keeping commitments but there are some minor things that I don’t do sometimes – return a phone call when promised, write an email etc. So I am committed to become more committed and hopefully those who I attract into my life will become more committed as well:)
    .-= Lana-{Daring Clarity}´s last post…How I Got to The Core, Got Scared… and Survived. =-.


    Caroline March 12, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Your posts are always spot on! And just what I needed to read. I tend to be lazy…and sometimes I think I can do a good enough job. Commitment is not easy. Oh no! It takes work to be committed. But you are 100% right. The fulfillment you get when you commit to (and complete) a project is the best feeling in the world!
    .-= Caroline´s last post…Becoming something… =-.


    Cheryl Paris March 12, 2010 at 2:56 am


    I admire your sincerity that you took to edit the manuscript written by an ‘old lady’.
    Your husband knew that ‘you were just perfect for the job to be done’. I personally feel and have observed that women are more committed to a task than men.



    Paul March 12, 2010 at 4:36 am


    A lovely post; i could almost feel your emotion. Thank you for sharing your experience. You’re obviously a very dedicated person and true to your word; it sounds like your husband knows it too.

    I understand your thoughts about caring of the elderly. I would like to think, when I get older there will be people who would care, for me in some capacity.


    .-= Paul´s last post…When the time is right! =-.


    Peggy March 12, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Hello Miss Tess!

    One of my toughest committments is the one’s I make for myself. To write every morning in my morning pages (been good so far! but not also easy to honor it). Wilma and I have talked a lot about being in-integrity and right now, that means keeping the committments I’ve made to myself.

    BTW – I have my ticket to Vegas – not sure if you’re around the night I leave, but I made sure to book the red eye flight home so on the off chance you’re free – we could have dinner! May 22…toolboxgrl at gmail dot com

    .-= Peggy´s last post…What I Do To Others, I Do To Myself =-.


    Carolynn March 12, 2010 at 9:05 am

    How timely. I just put up a post on my blog about a commitment I’ve made to myself. It is totally about keeping one’s word and that, right there, is the definition of integrity.

    Good job! Your karma bank will be filled to overflowing for helping that woman produce something that she can be truly proud of. It says a lot about you that you edited her manuscript properly and took her work seriously.
    .-= Carolynn´s last post…This is IT! =-.


    Marko @ CalmGrowth March 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

    First of all, this is a great story.
    I think it’s great that you endured to the end, and managed to finish editing the book. Blessed are those who have for you as a friend. I say that honestly.

    Now, I want to answer your questions:

    “Is there a commitment you’ve had a hard time keeping lately?”
    Of course it has, all the time… I have never been perfect. :)

    “What kept you going?”
    I am. Me alone…
    Man often does not see that the greatest enemy is not in environment, but in himself.
    .-= Marko @ CalmGrowth´s last post…How to Become a Millionaire =-.


    Jannie Funster March 12, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Tess, I will certainly care for you when you are 80! Of course, I’ll be 79 so I may have to stop and take frequent donut breaks.

    Tess, what a beautiful, beautiful thing to follow through on your promise. And your commitment to your personal integrity on what you found her book was missing. You just keep on amazing me with the person you are.

    I have been struggling with juggling commitments lately, so I need to put a positive spin on my plans! I have letters, snailmail ones that need writing and mailing, probably about 20 in all. I will take J.D.’s approach and say I am going to create lands of positive energy with each letter — already have the envelopes addressed! Even if just a page each filled with love, and a photo will change my whole world for the better.

    Just do it!

    And of course, I still owe Lance his parcel of excellent condition mis-matched socks. That one I’ll put up near the top of my list.

    Off to write 3 letters now — yes, before I do another thing. Well, I do need to go to the ladies’ room first, them make some lunch. :)

    You have inspired me. Thanks!!

    .-= Jannie Funster´s last post…Beautiful Austin, Texas — Through A Donut Hole =-.


    Tess Bold Life March 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I agree trust…it doesn’t get much better than that!

    I just love your sense of humor! I felt I couldn’t back out because she had no one else to help her and I knew it when I said yes. Yes right-o.

    Wilma you crazy Kiwi…OK just silly about the pedestal. Besides we’re taking me off and putting Robin on! Yes we are a work in progress but I believe I have that commitment thing down. Sometimes we have to do what we don’t want to do for our fellow human beings.

    I’m sorry you’re sick again and I do hope you feel better real soon. It’s tough being a boomer and having all plans fall through. Younger people can make up for lost time and money easier. Although time and money are an illusion;)

    I just remain grateful, with a loving consciousness and now that all will unfold as it’s suppose to…it’s that t-word again. Trust!

    Megan, You’re awesome and I look forward to meeting you next week!
    .-= Tess Bold Life´s last post…The Rewards of Honoring Commitments =-.


    Topi March 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Tess, I’ve just starting visiting, and am enjoying your posts.

    My Mum used to say that “nothing worth having is easy to achieve”. When I’m finding it hard to honour a commitment, I remind myself of that saying, and tell myself that my return on investment will make it worthwhile. Plus, it’s a matter of personal integrity for me to see a commitment through. Having said that, there are only so many hours in the day, so I’ve definitely become more careful about the commitments I take on these days…


    Hilary March 13, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Hi Tess .. gosh that was a great thing to do – I now hope she has the commitment to go forward with her book and make something of it? Her family’s commitment may be harder?!

    Re commitment – having one’s own is ok – yes tough .. but we make our decisions and again we make our choice to do, part do, or fail .. for whatever reason. As you know my two major ones .. one I’ve seen through, and my mother I am committed to – she has said she couldn’t cope .. if I hadn’t been there (committed) .. I hope others see this commitment from one – is actually two sided (and may be multi-faceted).

    Commitment – requires support from others .. my mother and I don’t really get it .. and it is very sad. (This point is in .. not because of my situation — but perhaps other readers may see something in the notation made?)

    I was wondering about commitment from another angle – the commitment of a position of authority, responsibility .. in this case my mother’s Nursing Centre .. and how their organisational (management mainly) commitment to my mind hasn’t been 100% – that is difficult to get round.

    Thanks – I don’t commit now if I can’t do – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Women – how much education have women had in the past 2,000 years? =-.


    Stephen - Rat Race Trap March 13, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Hi Tess, I agree you should honor your commitments. That is exactly why I also believe you should be very, very, careful about what you commit to. People aren’t very disciplined when making commitments and that leads to trouble down the road. Honor your commitments, but be careful about making them in the first place.
    .-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last post…Taking a Stand For Something =-.


    Lance March 13, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Hey Tess,
    There’s something about keeping our word, about doing what we say we will. Such an important part of living a life that is filled just doing the right thing. It reminds me of an organization I have been involved with for many years at our local elementary school. And – we had reached the point where our kids were nearly done with it. And I was burned out. So – the easy thing would have been to have walked away. I have certainly witnessed this over the years, with this group – on a smaller level. Today, I’m happy to say that I have found someone who is passionate about this group, and is taking the lead in wonderful ways. And – I can easily now step back and away from this commitment. As much of a challenge as the last year or so has been, being where this group is today feels really good.

    And – good on you, Tess, for sticking with this – even when it was challenging. As hard as it may be to hear the critique you had to share – the gift is in what you have given so that the end product will truly shine!
    .-= Lance´s last post…Reflecting On It All =-.


    suzen March 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Tess! Great story and what a perfect example of the typical “traps” we can get into, without meaning to! I detest dread – I don’t do or say I’ll do anything I might dread. At least not knowingly!

    That being said, it’s easy to start something, then realize ugh, should not have been so optimistic cuz this is really not what I thought it would be. Been there, and hasn’t everybody? I try to slip into a “chop wood, carry water” zen mind to complete whatever it is, stay calm, and not think any negative thoughts.

    I think it is imperative we honor our committments – and try to do so without complaining, as “ideal” as this may sound.

    .-= suzen´s last post…Cheap Peeps =-.


    Joy March 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    As I read I thought *of course* you keep commitments, and you care, and I love that about you. What a rare treat it is to find someone who keeps their word!
    I am careful not to promise, because a promise is golden and once given should be kept. There have been days I wanted to just quit, but in each case I am glad I’ve seen it to the end, because I believe there is a lesson to be had and if I quit in the middle, life will stop me along the way and send me back to relearn it. Whatever it is I’m trying to avoid by quitting will only be there waiting for me later on. Probably bigger/worse/more frustrating than initally. Conversely, whatever I am meant to learn is necessary and often results in some type of joy I would otherwise not have known.


    Doug Cartwright March 15, 2010 at 3:47 am


    The lady who helped train me as a coach said “commitment = freedom” and that got me thinking a lot over the years. Yes, commitment can ‘trap’ us but it also frees us. When I got married I committed to love one person and that gives me the freedom to fully express myself to her. Ironically, committing to something can give us the freedom to explore it in a deeper and more significant way. It’s only society that jokes about how awful commitment is. But I agree with others above who say you should be careful what you commit to….!

    Thanks Tess


    janice | Sharing the Journey March 15, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Editing’s hard at the best of times, Tess, even if it isn’t for an elderly person, so kudos to you. That balance between keeping it ‘theirs’ when sometimes it would be so much easier to rewrite than to edit and proofread. But that’s where your coaching and therapy skills merge with your commitment as a decent human being. You’re an empowerer, not a fixer, and you can simultaneously focus on the details while being aware of the bigger picture. Holding onto that bigger picture can often strengthen our resolve to honour commitments. That’s why coaches help co-create miracles when family members are often too close to be able to. It’s our job to make ourselves redundant after we’ve given others the skills to expand their own lives. If your friend does another book, she’ll have gained from the process you illustrated as you edited with integrity.


    Tess Bold Life March 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

    You’re one who saw empathy. It was the sole reason I committed. Thanks for understanding.

    Welcome to the bold life. Thanks for your opinion. We all know what’s right for us individually. I couldn’t have been at peace with myself if I didn’t follow through. The only reason I could think of was “I don’t feel like it.” Not good enough for me;)

    Thanks for your compliments and I see your integrity shine through as always.

    You go girl…an example for all of us!

    There is no doubt in my mind you will attract more committed people. Thanks for stepping up to the task you’re integrity effects all of us and vise versa.

    Thanks for stopping by and adding your comment. I know we think a like and learn from each other. That’s why you’re easy to love!

    I’m not sure about the man woman thing. My hubs is very very committed especially when it comes to his word. He must know I am as well. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

    Thanks! Blessed am I for having you as a commenter and reader. The feeling is mutual.

    You’re the best now please pass the donuts!

    Wow you noticed the second reason I followed through. Thanks. I refuse to be one who doesn’t respect the elderly. They mean the world to me.

    Toolbox girl I’m marking my calendar for May 22. (read last line) I’ll have to get a ride to where ever we choose. I’ll fly in for the day and fly back the same. Woo hoo…oh wait I better check with my hubby before I promise;)

    I understand exactly what you’re saying about the organization unfortunately I have no answers. I know you get it or you wouldn’t be with your mother now. You’re a gift to our world.

    Yes sometimes I do make commitments no because they’re comfortable or feel good. I feel it’s the “right” thing to do. This was one of them.

    Yeah for me and you! She was ecstatic with the end result even though she had a difficult time accepting it. She told me yesterday she “owes me.” No she doesn’t!

    I agree with you on all points. Isn’t life grand?

    I like that you “get it.” Can’t wait to meet this weekend!

    Thanks for your input. My freedom came in knowing I did the right thing for me.

    From one coach to another, yeah to life, love and keeping our commitments in difficult times. I needed to do what it took and I did. I have no regrets. I’m glad I made it and followed through.
    .-= Tess Bold Life´s last post…The Rewards of Honoring Commitments =-.


    Robin Easton March 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Dear Tess, I relate to this in so many ways, but before I explain I have to say that I really sense this deep affinity that you have for commitment. I’ve sensed that in you before, just in your writing and dealings with others. I also have to say that you are very brave taking on an editing like this, far more than most may realize who have not been involved in the literary world.

    I related to it from both sides. When I was younger I held a great attachment to my writing and if someone edited it I took it personally, like I wasn’t good enough or that it was an attack on me. :) Well, writing a book ended that very fast. I could NOT find friends who would be totally honest with about what they liked and didn’t like or to “have at it” ruthlessly with their “red pen”. I would beg them be “cruel” LOL! :) and then when my husband helped me and he was very honest and matter of fact about it. I LOVED it. Finally an honest critical editor. I grew to really value exactly what YOU have given this woman. Anything less, and you might as well not do it.

    So in light of all that when I read this post I thought, “Tess has given this woman a REAL gift.” It’s a bit like “tough love”. Sometimes if we REALLY love someone it means NOT giving them what they may “think” they want, but instead giving them what they REALLY need.

    I really appreciate what you gave this woman, and how tough it was especially when her son was upset with you. But the truth is you REALLY gave her something. Any less and you would have given her nothing. And although giving her nothing would have been much easier on you in terms of work, safer in terms of not risking being rejected by her son, and so on….you STILL stuck to your guns/commitment and gave the real deal. Wow! I applaud you for that dear friend. You’re amazing and acted with high integrity. So proud of you. Thank you. Hugging you a big one. Robin
    .-= Robin Easton´s last post…How We Shape Our World =-.


    Tess Bold Life March 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Thank you soul sister of mine. I appreciate your love and understanding. I’m eternally grateful. xo
    .-= Tess Bold Life´s last post…The Rewards of Honoring Commitments =-.


    nagrona March 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    My commitment was to myself. It has been very hard. My father, true friend, and only older family died this year. I am raising a young daughter alone . My husband is in federal prison and I am in t5he act of getting a divorce. Things have been VERY hard, especially financially. I am on the repair and owe it all to my perseverance. Faith in myself and in the goodness of eventuality. I continue to struggle.


    Tess Bold Life March 16, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I know you can get through this and I hope you find support. Reach out and ask for it. If you give me your snail mail address I’ll send you a copy of my book at no cost. God Bless! xo
    .-= Tess Bold Life´s last post…The Rewards of Honoring Commitments =-.


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