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Have you heard the joke about relying on your Facebook friends to help paint your house?

You’ll be painting alone!

“Reliable” can have a lot of different meanings. At best, you can count on someone who’s reliable.

However, sometimes there’s a flip side: the unreliably reliable. You’ve met this person – they’re nice and sincere, but have an exasperating tendency to fade away when you need them the most, just like the Facebook joke.

Here’s a thought: how about deciding to shift from the slippery slope of “reliable” to the firm foundation of “trustworthy”? Changing our future by becoming aware of the words we speak is the focus of the April series, Speak Your Future.

I was reminded of this idea as I read an article about parents faced with post-college boomerang kids. For one dad, the question of “Rent or no rent?” had a single answer.

At lunch after graduation, his son announced that he’d be moving back in. He needed time to sort out what was next. How much time was a mystery.

His parents agreed, yet they made it clear that crashing at his former childhood home couldn’t be forever. The son’s immediate response? “Oh, absolutely not!”

But then they dropped the bombshell. Dad asked for $300 a month.

The son became agitated. “For what?!” he demanded.

Dad proceeded to list all the bills that would go up once he returned – electricity, gas, water. A package deal of $300 was a bargain. At an apartment complex, utilities alone could run that much.

There were a couple of conditions to the deep discount. Their son had to actively participate in the household; he wasn’t a guest. That meant returning to his childhood responsibilities of yardwork and taking out the trash. The dad sternly said, “I don’t want to see Mom struggling with bins the night before pick-up or afterward.”

However, his dad would understand if the son had other things to do. He’d just do the work himself.

What a relief! The son grinned from ear to ear.

Until the dad told him that his rate for taking out the trash was $200. Every month Dad had to pitch in, the son’s rent would immediately increase to $500.

Ouch! That’s a little harsh!

Let’s take another look. Can you relate to this story?

We’ve all had a version of being unreliably reliable. Sometimes we have good intentions, but want someone else to pick up the slack when it comes to taking action. Other times we follow through for everyone else, but flake out when it’s time to put ourselves on the list.

This is the week to become trustworthy with your own desires. Up the ante with your language. Replace words like “maybe” or “someday” with a concrete, confident future filled with words like “progress” and “success”.

Reboot and start with the basics, just like the dad’s expectations for his son, then build on them. If your talk is better than your walk, buddy up with someone for some friendly accountability.

When simple tasks become automatic, you make space for big things to follow.