What Are Commitments? 10 Examples and How People Break Them

In a previous article, I got mad about some things that make it so difficult to stay focused and reach higher levels of financial success. One of those things I mentioned that are so important, are commitments.

Commitments are promises or obligations that individuals make to themselves or others, creating a sense of responsibility and accountability. They are essential in maintaining healthy relationships, personal growth, and achieving goals.

However, commitments can be challenging to uphold, and people often find themselves struggling to honor them. In this article, I would like to explore 10 examples of commitments across various areas of life, along with common ways people break them.

1. Client Commitments

In professional settings, commitments to clients are crucial for building trust and maintaining successful business relationships. For example, a graphic designer might commit to delivering a client's logo design within a specified timeframe. Breaking such commitments can result in damaged reputation and loss of clientele. People often break client commitments by failing to meet deadlines, delivering subpar work, or completely abandoning projects due to poor planning or overcommitment.

Clients also make commitments when engaging the services of a contractor or freelancer. For instance, a client might commit to providing necessary information and feedback within agreed-upon timeframes. However, there are instances where clients fail to honor their commitments, leading to project delays and difficulties for the contractor. This can happen when clients repeatedly miss deadlines for providing crucial materials or fail to provide clear instructions, resulting in confusion and setbacks. Such actions by clients can significantly impact the quality of work and strain the working relationship between the client and the contractor.

It's important to understand that both contractors and clients should respect their commitments. I've been on both sides of the equation and can't tell you how many times I've had clients or potential clients make promises, that they have failed to follow through on and it has caused a chain of events that led to me also breaking commitments ranging from being unable to pay for rent and bills, to being so stressed out that I chose to break commitments such as exercising or spending time with my family. I've also hired help from contractors who have completely failed at delivering what they committed to doing, or their work was so sub-par compared to what they claimed they would do, that I had to break commitments to my own clients and redo the work.

Here are a few more examples of potential clients breaking commitments, that have occurred very recently at the time of writing this article:

  1. Meeting with a first prospect, discussing their needs, walking them through how my services will help them, agreeing on a price, shaking hands on it, spending several hours creating a proposal with said price, then having them flip their decision and decline with a reason that it’s too expensive for their current budget. Two weeks later they called back, we talked on the phone, and agreed to a revised set of short term goals and reworked the offer to fit their budget. Again, they verbally agreed, I reworked the proposal, and they then proceeded to send me incomplete information, never signed the proposal, and never replied to follow up emails essentially ghosting me.
  2. Having a second client make repeated promises over and over that they have multiple projects they want to send me “next week or the week after” only to have this continue for months. Trusting that the projects were coming “next week” and the income would be enough, I repeatedly make a commitment to leaving capacity open for it, and lose more than a month income. Chain reaction causes me to fall behind on rent, late fees on credit cards, borrow money from extended family, and fail to meet my commitment to pay them back. 
  3. A third client who wants me to make a commitment to start their project asap, and insists that the project that is very urgent. Then I discover after several long phone calls, and talking about multiple other projects (carrots), that this urgent project will only take less than an hour of time and they are leaving town for at least a week on the same day so even if I do the hour of work (which by the way I've said multiple times that I no longer want to bill by the hour), I won't be able to get paid or follow up for at least another week.
  4. A fourth client who repeatedly cancels scheduled meetings at the last minute, or just doesn’t show up at all and later wants to reschedule out of the blue. 
  5. A fifth prospective client who literally tells me, "don't get a full time job, or take on too many projects because I am going to have a ton of work for you". I then hear from them over a month later asking if I have time for a couple projects, I respond yes. Now two months later I'm still waiting for them to move forward with the first step after multiple follow up conversations.

I always try to be understanding as to reasons that may be unknown to me why prospects and clients break their commitments. I may never know what they are going through or what their true intentions are, but I won't lie, it is really upsetting.

As you can imagine, as a contractor putting trust and faith into the word and commitments of a handful of prospective clients, and then having them all more or less break those commitments almost simultaneously, it puts a tremendous amount of stress and emotional and mental stress on me due to a disruption in income and creating uncertainty for my family.

Even though it makes me mad, I need to continue to handle it professionally. As much as I would love to have "other opportunities" to fall back on, I've invested a lot of effort just into building relationships with several of these clients. I realize that it's "on me" to create a backup plan, maintain a backup fund, and increase my lead flow - but it still doesn't mean that the people I choose to work with, should be excused from holding their commitments. I can guarantee that if I made a commitment to them, took a deposit, and failed to do what I promised to do, or just disappeared, that they would be furious.

2. Employer Commitments

Employees make commitments to their employers when they accept a job. These commitments typically include fulfilling assigned tasks, meeting deadlines, and maintaining a certain level of performance. Breaking employer commitments may lead to disciplinary actions, strained work relationships, or even termination. Common ways people break employer commitments include chronic lateness, consistently underperforming, or neglecting assigned responsibilities.

While employees have commitments to their employers, employers themselves also have responsibilities to their employees. They commit to providing a safe work environment, fair compensation, and opportunities for growth. However, there are cases where employers break their commitments, negatively affecting employee morale and satisfaction. For example, an employer might promise salary raises or promotions but consistently delay or fail to deliver on these commitments. Such actions can lead to employee disillusionment, decreased motivation, and a sense of mistrust towards the employer. When employers break commitments, it can have detrimental effects on the overall work atmosphere and employee loyalty.

It is important to recognize that commitments work both ways in professional relationships, and maintaining open communication and accountability is crucial for success.

3. Family Commitments

Commitments within a family are vital for nurturing healthy relationships and maintaining a supportive environment. These commitments may include spending quality time together, supporting one another emotionally, or taking care of specific household responsibilities. People often break family commitments by prioritizing work or personal interests over spending time with loved ones, neglecting their emotional needs, or failing to contribute to shared responsibilities.

4. Exercise Commitments

Commitments to physical well-being, such as exercise routines, play a significant role in maintaining good health. Whether it's committing to a regular gym schedule or engaging in a specific physical activity, breaking exercise commitments can hinder progress and impact overall well-being. People frequently break exercise commitments by succumbing to laziness, making excuses, or lacking motivation to maintain a consistent routine.

5. Financial Commitments

Commitments regarding finances are essential for maintaining stability and responsible money management. These commitments may involve paying bills on time, budgeting, or saving for future goals. Breaking financial commitments can lead to debt, financial instability, or strained relationships with creditors. People often break financial commitments by overspending, failing to track expenses, or neglecting to fulfill repayment obligations.

6. Personal Growth Commitments

Commitments related to personal growth and self-improvement contribute to overall well-being and success. These commitments might involve attending workshops, reading books, or acquiring new skills. However, people often struggle with breaking personal growth commitments due to a lack of discipline, distractions, or losing interest over time.

7. Relationship Commitments

Commitments in relationships include trust, loyalty, and support. Breaking relationship commitments can lead to mistrust, and the deterioration of the bond. People often break relationship commitments by lying, cheating, or failing to communicate effectively.

8. Health Commitments

Commitments to health involve maintaining a balanced lifestyle, making healthy choices, and seeking necessary medical care. Breaking health commitments can have detrimental effects on physical and mental well-being. People frequently break health commitments by engaging in unhealthy habits, disregarding medical advice, or neglecting self-care routines.

9. Academic Commitments

Commitments to academic pursuits are vital for educational success and personal growth. These commitments may include attending classes regularly, completing assignments on time, and studying diligently. Breaking academic commitments can result in poor grades, missed opportunities, or delays in graduation. Students often break academic commitments by procrastinating, skipping classes, or engaging in academic dishonesty.

10. Social Commitments

Social commitments encompass various aspects of our interactions with others, including friendships, community involvement, and social responsibilities. These commitments may involve attending social events, supporting friends in times of need, or actively participating in community initiatives. Breaking social commitments can lead to strained relationships, isolation, and a sense of unreliability. People often break social commitments by canceling plans at the last minute, failing to follow through on promises, or consistently prioritizing personal interests over social obligations.

Breaking Commitments: Common Factors

While commitments are intended to be honored, various factors contribute to their breakage across different areas of life. Some common reasons for breaking commitments include:

  1. Overcommitment: Taking on too many commitments simultaneously can lead to an overwhelming workload, making it difficult to fulfill each obligation effectively.
  2. Lack of Prioritization: Failing to prioritize commitments appropriately can result in neglecting certain obligations, as other activities or responsibilities take precedence.
  3. Poor Time Management: Inadequate planning and time management skills can lead to missed deadlines, incomplete tasks, or a lack of progress on commitments.
  4. Lack of Motivation: A lack of intrinsic motivation can make it challenging to stay dedicated and committed to fulfilling obligations over an extended period.
  5. Unrealistic Expectations: Setting unrealistic goals or expectations can lead to frustration and demotivation when they cannot be met, increasing the likelihood of breaking commitments.
  6. External Circumstances: Unexpected events, emergencies, or external factors beyond one's control can disrupt or hinder the ability to fulfill commitments.


Commitments play a fundamental role in our personal and professional lives, shaping our relationships, goals, and overall well-being. While it is essential to make commitments, it is equally important to understand the challenges associated with keeping them. By recognizing common areas where commitments are made and understanding the factors that contribute to their breakage, we can take proactive steps to improve our commitment-keeping abilities.

Whether it's fulfilling client obligations, honoring family commitments, or maintaining personal well-being, upholding commitments requires self-discipline, effective time management, and a genuine desire to follow through on promises.

By striving to be accountable and responsible individuals, we can strengthen our relationships, hopefully achieve our goals, and increase our likelihood of living a more fulfilling life.

A good spot to start with this is just understanding our personal capacity.

We all only have a fixed amount of time each day, and a limited amount of energy and attention that we will be able to allocate to the commitments we make.

Repeatedly stretching beyond that capacity just leads to being overcommitted. And being overcommitted burns up all of our time, energy, and attention - ultimately causing more stress and strain for ourselves and those around us.

Read More

Join my email list for ambitious readers.

I write content specifically for business-driven software developers, designers, freelancers, creators, and other digital entrepreneurs.

You'll get valuable money mindset hacks, business metrics, and resources to help you succeed at increasing and exceeding your personal money goals. Joining this list will help you avoid falling victim to the trap of widely held and false personal beliefs about money that keep many of us stuck financially.

Your information will not be sold or shared.

About Me

Making progress with a website or digital marketing project can be both difficult and time consuming. I would like to share with you many of the key insights I’ve discovered from my own experience that can provide a significant boost of positive results.

Here are 3 ways that I can help you:

1. Learn from my free articles and videos on this site. Topics range from UX and User Centric Design, to planning, discovery, money, strategy, design, and more.

2. Subscribe, and get additional access to my offers. Free content is helpful, but once inside you will gain access to additional resources, tools, checklists, progress tracking, and standard operating procedures which you may implement in your own business.

3. To hire me to help with your project, CLICK HERE to schedule a time to talk on the phone.

Nathan Bray

Founder / UX / Design