Think Before You Act and Act Before You Speak
You've heard it all too often: "This New Year, I'm going to start hitting the gym every day!" While this is a nice positive mindset to have at the moment, it can be destructive in the long term for your mental health and reputation. Instead, it might be better for all of us to start accomplishing our goals before speaking about them. Here's why:
"When you can't commit to your goals, it makes you look bad"
This is true in most groups of people as your integrity and the trust people have in you to accomplish what you set out to do will be lowered. Interpersonal trust is a game that is similar to what an organization in a buyer-seller relationship might have to play.
"When you give someone your word, that is all they have to judge you by other than the product of your work."
If you don't have any product to show, and your word holds no value, then trust and credibility are lost. The intentions of the person who couldn't commit to their word are eventually questioned despite the previous benevolent experiences. Cynics might think that you are a liar, and optimists will have to make an excuse for your lack of performance. This line of thought goes with retail sales where one study found that "interpersonal credibility [was a] significant predictor of a buyer’s commitment to the vendor organization" (Kemp and Bui). Now while you might have a higher desire to keep trust within your relationships with specific friends, partners, or family members rather than with retail associates, the effects of negative credibility can still eventually catch up with a person as prior research has concluded that the link between trust and commitment is very strong (Anderson and Weitz 1989; Morgan and Hunt 1994).
Think of yourself as a brand
"A credible brand minimizes risk and increases consumer confidence" (Kemp and Bui). We have a reputation that we have to protect at all costs in life. It's part of our human nature to have our fear of being judged, and this is for a very important reason. If we are kicked out of every tribe, or social group, we start to feel lonely, sad, depressed, as our bodies tell us something is wrong.
"This signaling is part of our biological evolution reminding us that we live healthier and longer lives when we all stick together."
This is why it's important to maintain a good brand image of yourself. Find what you're passionate about and good at, and make your reputation shine. You have about 80 years to build your reputation and many chances at it given how many people we can encounter every day, we all have a pretty good chance of living happy and healthy lives. However, you're still in the driver's seat, and you need to pay attention. When we speak about our goals, we are giving an oral obligation that we will complete that goal. This is happening with companies like Tesla Motors where they have promised goals of car production that they cannot meet and their lowering credibility is mirrored in their rocky stock price evaluation. Trust and credibility are everything, its how we evaluate stock prices, its how we know what company to buy from, its how we know if we want to have an intimate relationship with someone, and therefore it's extremely important for all of us to protect our reputations by being trustable and credible.
So, going into this new year in the next month, remember to think to yourself:
"Think before you act and act before you speak"
Think about what you want from life right now, and why you need it. Understand that you need to prove to yourself that you can do what you set out to do before you go and tell everyone else about what you want in life and why you need it. Continue to think differently
- Anderson, Erin, and Barton Weitz. (1989). “Determinants of Continuity in Conventional Industrial Channel Dyads.” Marketing Science 8(4), 310–23.
- Kemp, E., & Bui, M. (2011). Healthy brands: Establishing brand credibility, commitment and connection among consumers. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 28(6), 429-437.
Morgan, Robert M., and Shelby D. Hunt. (1994). “The Commitment-Trust Theory of Relationship Marketing.” Journal of Marketing 58 (July), 20–38.