"IDEALISM: the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically.” - the dictionary.

I’ve been learning what it’s like to let go of idealism.  It served its purpose in provoking me to chase after my business dream.  As much as I’m a big fan of idealism, on its own it didn’t have the capacity to sustain me.  I began to feel the sobering reality that idealism no longer was serving me well.

One of the mistakes I made that stemmed from my idealism was this:  I was compromising my integrity.

There’s a difference between Idealism and Integrity.

Personally, I define integrity as words and actions match.  Combined, they are consistent, reliable and trustworthy.  You do what you say you’re going to do.  Your yes is your yes and you follow through to completion.  That, to me, is integrity.

Whether you commit to a one time task or an ongoing task, delivering what you say is what matters most.

INTEGRITY:  If I say, “I will wash your car this Saturday.”  Not every Saturday.  This one Saturday. And I follow through?  That’s integrity.

IDEALISM:  If I say, “I will wash your car on Saturdays.”  I show up on a Saturday and wash your car and the next Saturday I wash it again, but then, uh oh, I stop washing your car.  That, to me, is a lack of integrity because I didn’t follow through on what I said I’d do.

What went wrong in that example?

Making vague commitments without a clear, specific timeline diminishes integrity.

I noticed my idealism would make unrealistic commitments.  Oops!  That’s a problem.  How do I stop this from happening?!?

Shorter timelines.

Shorter timelines?  Yes, it’s that simple!  Who’dathunkit!

LIFE LESSON:  I would be genuinely sincere [“I’d love to wash your car!!”], but the vagueness is unrealistic.  Enthusiasm is great, but with no clear timeline?  Big mistake.

Simply saying ‘yes’ is too general and allows too much room for error.  I’m now learning how to make short-term commitments, with a fully committed heart.

Idealism easily turns into “over-promising.”

(over-promising is not cool.)

When I don’t state a realistic timeline, I have entered the zone of over-promising.

When I enthusiastically say yes to others, but am not able to deliver, I’m negatively impacting people I care about.   When I don’t carefully think through my decision before saying yes, my follow through falls short.

INTEGRITY NEEDS TO BE SPECIFIC:  Being in a young business, I have many uncertainties and what used to be easy to say yes to, no longer is.  I’m evolving, which requires fluidity. I soon began to realize that what I had to give was limited.  “I will wash your car for two Saturdays.”  I can make “a” commitment, but not an “ongoing” commitment.

Which led me to the best question ever!

REFLECTIVE QUESTION:  What do I have to give?  Realistically, what can my offering be?  Be specific.

For example, “I’d love to wash your car.  I’m only free this Saturday morning.  Does that work for you?”  

CONCLUSION:  I will give only what I absolutely know I have to give.  How liberating! If I am limited in what I can offer, then I happily choose quality time over quantity time.

Committing to an immediate need was much more doable than a foregoing need.  Does that make my offering any less valuable?  No, not at all.

“Although I can only give one Saturday to wash your car, I will give you 100% of me in that moment.”

What is the win?  Although short-term, I am fully present and giving all of me.

WISDOM:  It is better to say yes with a committed follow through than to say yes with good intentions.

HOW ABOUT YOU?  Is there anywhere in your life that you have good intentions but fall short on your follow through?  If so, have you ever asked yourself why that is?  And could it be the solution is simple and easy:  be specific and realistic with what you can offer and with your timeline.



ps.  For a free 20 minute consultation, please book a time on my scheduler.  Always happy to connect and listen to the things you are processing.  www.karenthrall.com/book