Why The Skill of Punctuality Can Help Anyone Become More Self-Confident
Our time is always limited, but it’s only valuable when we choose to respect it
It wasn’t necessarily a school lesson or a parent’s lecture that taught me the value in punctuality, but it had simply come from the environment and people I had surrounded myself with.
The trains in Japan are nearly always on time, and if it is one minute late then announcements are made throughout the system to apologize to everyone. Business meetings always start on time — if not five minutes early — and friends consistently show up to plans when they said they would, and a courtesy “Sorry I’m running late!” text is sent if they are running just mere minutes late.
It seems like such a small thing to be on time, but cultivating this skill for punctuality is not just a way to make life run smoother, but I have found that it is a fundamental skill in building self-confidence. Here are a few reasons why:
When you respect other people’s time, you’ll command respect from others.
It’s apparent that being on time means you respect other people’s time, but the habit also commands respect from others.
When we are meeting someone who we know is always late, we often allow ourselves to be late as well. But when we are meeting a person who is always punctual, we make an effort to be on time to match them — suddenly the value of the time of a person who is consistently punctual is much greater than the person who is always late.
Like honesty and kindness, being on time naturally commands respect from others. We value time from people who we trust will be on time for us.
When you are on time, it not only shows others that you’re dependable, but it shows you that you can rely on yourself.
It’s not strange to see a seven-year-old on the train going to school by themselves in Japan. Starting in elementary school, children are often expected to take themselves to their own commitments, whether that be after school activities, household errands, or maybe even a dentist appointment.
This is only possible in a culture where children are confident in their ability to manage themselves. As the saying goes, with independence comes responsibility, and while it may seem like such a basic thing, being where you need to be at the correct time requires relying on yourself.
It is essentially an act of trusting yourself.
You practice self-respect when you decide to assign meaning to your words.
Often when we think about punctuality, many of us view it as an act of respect for others, but it’s also an act of self-respect. It means that when we say we will do something, it actually means something.
For the person who says they’ll show up at 8 o’clock and never does, their words have no value. For the person who always shows up on time, when they say something it actually means something.
The ability to hold yourself accountable and follow through on your actions is one of the most effective ways to build your own confidence. It signals to yourself that your words hold meaning, and that what you say matters. And when you recognize that your words hold value, you only build respect for yourself.
When you are punctual, you teach yourself to draw stronger boundaries.
Has a manager ever asked you to work ridiculous hours? Were you able to say no?
It’s much easier to draw lines in how you are willing to spend your time — to yourself, your family, your boss, your coworkers — when you otherwise are punctual to your commitments. If you are always on time, people can’t ask you to give up time that is not theirs.
It also makes the choice to stop spending time with people who don’t value your time much easier — being consistently late is a form of stealing, and why would we let anyone willingly steal from us? You naturally build the confidence to say no when you practice self-respect.
Time is always limited, but it’s only valuable when we make it so.
The occasional slip-up happens — the best thing to do then is to laugh it off and move on in these cases — but we should always strive to be punctual because it’s one of the most fundamental ways to practice self-respect and build our own confidence.
Time is always limited, but our time is only valuable when we choose to assign value to it. So spend it like the precious resource it is, and you’ll find that you’ll be more confident, more autonomous, and more at peace in the way you hold yourself around others.