The Art of Flaking: Just Don’t

We have all experienced our share of cancelled plans, flakey friends and missed get together’s. You know that feeling, looking forward to a plan and having it cancelled at the last minute, or just cancelled in general. Frankly put, it’s a shitty feeling.

Equally, we have all been the culprit behind dead end plans that didn’t live long enough to see the light of day. You know how it goes, making and then breaking a plan due to poor scheduling on your part or maybe it sounded better at the time and now you just ain’t in the mood.

So here is my issue: words are thrown around too easily these days and people are so quick to speak and make commitments without being conscious of the meaning of their words and commitments. Just as quick as people are to make plans, they are equally willing to break them. This lackadaisical approach to words and keeping commitments is bothersome and just plain lame. So with all the flakiness going around, why is no one talking about it?

Let me digress, I am not saying you are this horrible human being if you have to cancel on someone. Nor am I suggesting that you pull a Johnny Depp and write your plan in blood as a symbol of your intent not to cancel. Let’s be real. There will be times when you have to break a plan or just opt for something more spontaneous. Life happens, things come up, opportunities arise that you just can’t pass. But when you make it a habit to be so lax about making and breaking plans you were never serious about, that makes you a bona fide flake and being a flake is just not a good look on anyone.

Back track with me now to my early 20’s. I admit, I was a flake. Mind you, a flake has no archetype. It comes in all ages and sexes. A flake may come in the form of your dear old grandma or the cute guy you met at the gym. So back to me being a flake. I would find myself excited to make plans with old friends and new acquaintances, yet just about half of those plans would fizzle out and never come to fruition.

To top it off, it was usually my fault. This applied to my dating life too and I’m sure many guys I crossed paths with totally took me for some cold, heartless b%*!. Making and breaking plans, as well as “double-booking” as some people call it, was my fortè. I would make plans I wasn’t serious about, rationalize my reasons for cancelling, disregard people’s feelings and would even go so far as to convince myself that they didn’t really want to hang out with me that bad.

So what was my problem? Was I just some immature 20-something-year-old? Probably so. But was I also this cold, heartless b%*! who was trying to hurt my friend’s or new dating prospect’s feelings? No way.

The issue at heart was this: I was not intentional. As much as I wanted to believe I would be game for an art walk in two weeks or a sushi date after work, I was not intentional about it. I might have had good intentions about making the plans at the time, but that is not the same as being intentional about making the plans happen. There is a big difference between having good intentions and being intentional.

So, that brings us to the next question: what does it mean to be intentional? Well, lets break it down Merriam-Webster’s style. By definition, intentional means “to be done in a way that is planned or intended.” The definition goes on to say that the word intentional “stresses an awareness of an end to be achieved.” So for one, being intentional means you have an awareness. Not just a passing understanding or a fleeting thought, but an awareness.

This awareness, I believe, should remain intact from the moment the plan is set in stone up until its execution. When you have an awareness of something, it is present in your conscious and your thoughts. The definition also mentions an “end to be achieved.” Ultimately, this is what a plan is all about. You make a plan with the end in mind (or so you should.)

I consider the act of keeping a plan as both a reflection of one’s character and as a commitment. By definition, a commitment is an agreement or pledge to do something in the future. When I think of the word pledge, I think “promise.” And I don’t know about you but last time I checked, a promise is not mean to be broken. And if you break a promise, it does reflect a little about your character.

Light at the end of the tunnel- it’s never too late to change your flakey ways and start being intentional with plans you make and words you speak. And trust me when I say that people will notice and respect you more for it. I can honestly say that I have grown to be way more reliable and consider myself pretty intentional when it comes to making plans and following through with them.

So how is it working out for me, you may ask? Fabulously! Making and keeping plans is a way to keep my relationships healthy and stir up some anticipation and excitement in my life. I find that when I plan something, however small or large it may be, it allows me to better prepare and think about all of the little details that will go into that plan ie. what to wear, what to bring, etc. Spontaneity is great but there is no better feeling than showing up to a date, dinner or event when you are prepared. Most importantly, keeping a plan communicates to my friends, family and people in general that I care.

On the flip side, I totally respect the people in my life who keep their word and their commitments with me. I have come to find that my “inner circle” of friends is mostly comprised of those I can trust (obviously). This trust of course extends to having faith that my friends will keep their word and not commit to “pretend plans” they were never serious about.

My inner circle of friends are also “doers.” They make plans with me in the first place because they want to get out there and enjoy life. Ultimately, it is because we care enough about each other that we keep our word and our friendship afloat. It is a give and take relationship that works beautifully because it is not one-sided. And experiencing life with people who are on the same page as you is an awesome feeling.

My mom once put it bluntly to me: “Honey,” she said, “when someone makes a habit out of breaking plans with you, it’s because they don’t want to be your friend.” Okay, so this may sound a little heartless and extreme but I totally agree with mom here. Relationships take effort and keeping plans is part of that effort.

If someone continuously flakes, despite how genuine or wholesome their intentions may be, they are communicating to you that they don’t really have an interest in facilitating a relationship/friendship with you. They may like you or enjoy being around you, but they just aren’t down to put that effort in. Friendships take work and effort paired with some love and trust, you know.

Here are a few tips to snap out of your flakey ways or avoid a future flakey plan in the making:

-Be intentional. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you aren’t serious about getting coffee or hiking next Saturday, don’t make it a plan.

-Choose to make plans with intentional people. You are setting yourself up for failure otherwise.

-After making a plan, whether it is verbal or via text, follow up. Confirm the plan is still a go.

– Keep the “awareness” of your plan alive. Pencil it on your calendar, iPhone calendar, or scribble it on a post-it and stick it to your forehead. Whatever method works to remind you that you have a commitment.

-Avoid revolving a plan around someone who is a chronic flaker.

-If you must break a plan, have some tact and try to give a heads up in advance. Also, call as opposed to text, it’s more heartfelt and sincere.

-If you must break a plan, try and re-plan for a future date.

I will end on this note. For those that have flaked on me in the past or will flake on me in the future, I have already forgiven them. I can extend a certain amount of grace and slack for their flakiness because I’ve been there and done that. We are all works in progress however, the most important piece of advice I can give you about flaking is this: just don’t.


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