Be Impeccable With Your Word: Day 5

Published on March 27th, 2011

This is part of an ongoing series of articles/posts detailing my experience with experiencing The Four Agreements. If the content below doesn't make any sense out of context, then be sure to check out the original post to better understand my goals and motivations for doing this.

GTD and Renegotiating Agreements

As you may or may not have noticed, there was no previously promised post on my 30 day journey through each one of The Four Agreements. Honestly, I was inspired to write something else that was more apropos to my life at the moment. Have I failed my goal just 4 days in? Not at all! It was an intentional act to learn one of the key lessons of being impeccable with ones words; a lesson that I wish to share now.

Promises, goals, contracts, etc are much like beliefs in that they are all different variations of an agreement. Each agreement requires emotional energy, mental focus, and time to maintain. When they are in alignment and beneficial to our life purpose, this can be a wonderfully rewarding use of our resources because we will likely move forward along our path. When they are not in alignment, negative, too numerous to manage, etc; they can be extremely draining and disempowering to the point of inaction, procrastination, depression, and so on.

In the first agreement, we are advised to break agreements that no longer serve us because they infect our psyches like a computer virus. Think how much energy a person can waste in a given day worrying about not being good enough, smart enough, loved enough, rich enough, pretty enough, etc. These seeds were planted (often by others) and took root, overrunning our minds with weeds and leaving it in blight versus a beautiful garden.

From Beliefs to Goals

The Getting Things Done (GTD) model by David Allen has a similar take on agreements as they relate to goals. If you're like me, you like to please everyone and have a hard time saying 'no.' The inevitable result is an overcommitment to the point of inevitable failure in delivering on even the most simple requests (sure, I'll make the appointment, run the errand, fix that error, etc). When people finally realize this overcommitment, there are 4 ways one can make it out.

  • Work faster (not always possible)
  • Delegate (not always affordable)
  • Say no (be honest with your goals)
  • Renegotiate (be honest with your capabilities)

Being impeccable with one's word means being honest in the highest form of truth. Yes, given enough time, fortitude, and a little luck-most of us can potentially achieve any status in life. But realistically in the short term, Rome wasn't built in a day. If we were impeccable with our word, we would only take on what we could realistically handle. To be blatantly unrealistic is no different than infecting ourselves with negative beliefs. Dream big, yes. Agree to right a novel in a day, no. Renegotiate it into steps that can keep the dream alive while still making marked steps towards in in a given day.


Then break and/or renegotiate those agreements. They maintain too much precious real estate in your conscious mind. And the longer they lay dormant, the longer they rot... potentially infecting your most prized possessions.

So yesterday, I renegotiated the best that I could. I was overwhelmed and in a state where sleep was far more important than pushing beyond my limits to create a post. I renegotiated and benefitted greatly from the wisdom of knowing when enough was enough and that my inner sanity was far more important than meeting an obligation that I myself created out of thin air and holds no meaning to anyone but myself. It is my illusion, my agreement. And rather than get bent out of shape, change it!

The journey of The Four Agreements continues. I look forward to sharing more when and if appropriate to my experience. 

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.