Why telling people your goals is a fatal mistake

by Peter Shallard

Sharing your goals is a fatal mistake

Went to South by South West. This is my obligatory “What I learned at Internet spring break” post blah blah blah… Let’s get to the good stuff.

SXSW made me realize that almost everything we know about goal setting and communication is wrong. Big time. Here’s why:

Meeting people face to face rocks my world. I can’t escape the fact that this Internet schtick doesn’t come naturally to me – I’m an offline man living in an online world. What really grinds my gears is the years (literally years) I spent honing my skills in what NLPers describe as “calibration” and “rapport”.

Basically, I taught myself to pay very careful attention to people’s physiology and it’s meaning. On the Internet, this skill is about as useful as a chocolate kettle. So, when Internet folks get together in the real world, I finally got to use it. At SXSW, I noticed something incredible.

I can’t claim total credit for figuring this out on my own. The concept I’m about to share with you initially came up in discussion with either Adam, Jeff, Marla, Dave or Taylor. I can’t remember who voiced it first (funny that) – but all those folks are ultra smart and don’t need my praise anyway.

The point is:

Telling people about your next big idea robs you of motivation.

What?! Surely not! Surely every experience you’ve ever had indicates that this is patently false. What about sharing goals to create expectations, social pressure and accountability?

Right. When you tell someone you’re gonna do something, something big… You don’t want to look like an idiot. You don’t want to let them down. This creates motivational leverage right? Sure. Sort of. Maybe.

The truth is, sharing your big dreams with us is doing far more harm than good.

Sharing your next big idea is practically orgasmic.

Your eyes sparkle. Your heart flutters. All manner of happy chemicals flood your brain.

Such conversations can light your fire, inspiring you with new nuances for your vision. Even just a smattering of approval from whoever you’re talking to will feel like liquid gold, bathing your ears (and ego) in effervescent sparkles.

Then what happens? To continue the organism metaphor longer than is probably sensible….

You peak. Then, you sit back practically panting. You light a cigarette. You bask in the afterglow and consider a nap. You want to “rest your eyes” for a few minutes.

You might do a lot of things after an idea orgasm. Execution is not one of them.

When you share you big vision conversationally, something interesting is happening in your mind. You’re making vivid mental images of a bright, shiny future. In the theatre of your mind, you can see, hear and even feel success as your idea comes to fruition.

That’s the cause of the massive endorphin rush. The unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between imagined mental imagery versus real, external reality. It thinks the topic of your conversation is real and rewards your brain chemistry accordingly.

Want evidence that your unconscious thinks internal reality is as real as external? Try this quick mental exercise:

Think of a fresh lemon. Conjure up an image of it in your mind. Notice the shiny, dimpled skin and imagine a sharp knife slicing deftly through the center of it. See the micro spray of tangy droplets from the knife’s pressure. Smell the scent of the peel, releasing its aromatic oil into the air.

Are you salivating yet?

Your unconscious mind doesn’t know that the lemon isn’t real. It’s literally preparing your mouth for an acidic assault by coating your tongue in saliva. You saliva glands (like endorphins and most body functions) are entirely regulated by your unconscious mind.

When you tell someone about your next big idea, the mental process of visualizing future success convinces your unconscious mind that it’s already happened. It doesn’t fill your body with pre-victory anxiety… It fills it with post-win celebration!

Telling someone about your big idea is almost as emotional rewarding as achieving it!

The worst part? It can become an addiction.

When the emotional high of sharing your plan inevitably fades, you start seeking that positive feeling again. Which is easier? Actually executing… Or just finding someone new to talk to?

South by South West exposed me to huge numbers of eager entrepreneurs, busy hustling, talking about their huge plans. My body language observation revealed idea orgasm occurring all around me, pretty much 24/7.

The people who have a track record of executing huge things and turning hustle into results acted a little differently. People I met like Dave Navaro, Johnny Truant, Jonathan Fields and Brian Clark all did something different.

They play their cards close. They were cryptic. None of the pros were really talking business and none of them wanted to.

Maybe they were just sick of having the same conversations over and over. Or maybe, they intuitively know that sharing their plans only creates mental faux-victories. Instead of real achievement.

We’re all guilty of this idea-sharing mistake. I did it when I published my plans for my revolutionary quest – although, I haven’t shared any actual details on what’s happening in that space. I’ll wait until I have something superb to actually show you.

I’ve got a radical suggestion. It’s going to be damn tough for you, if you’re stuck in an addictive cycle of indiscriminate idea sharing. It’ll be hard, but think you should try to follow this advice anyway. I guarantee a thirty day trial of this will transform your life.

Are you ready for this? Here goes…

Simply say: “Oh, just you wait…”

Don’t tell us what you’re planning on doing. Don’t share one detail! Not even for the sake of accountability. Instead, say absolutely nothing. If you must speak, just let us know that we should wait and see.

Here’s what’ll happen…

You will buy yourself a very, very brief window of opportunity. Intelligent people will keep an eye on you for a few short weeks or months. They’ll wait and see.

If you get your shit together and actually execute something impressive, you’ll be welcomed into the inner circle of people who walk instead of talk. You’ll come “out of nowhere” and blow people away. Folks will say things like “I knew you were cooking up something!”

(In reality, they didn’t know shit… But they’re happy for you all the same.)

If you fail to ship anything, people will simply forget about you. That might sound bad, but the alternative (which most people are stuck doing) is much worse.

When you blather about your grand designs to everyone you meet, you might be able to create some excitement. Good ideas are still respected! However, if you don’t execute right away, people will remember. Folks will think “what ever happened to that guy with the idea for the supersonic bread slicer?”

They’ll remember your wide-eyed idea sharing. They’ll nod and smile. People who’ve read this post will know exactly what kind of person you are. People who haven’t? They’ll still know but maybe they won’t put words around it.

Telling everyone your goals puts healthy pressure on you to achieve them, yes. NOT telling people what you’re planning creates even more healthy pressure. Plus, when you go out and execute you get to look like you came out of nowhere and exploded onto the market.

This may be the best and most ruthless business advice I’ve ever written:

Shut the **** up and go DO something. Make it something worth other people talking about.

Leaving a comment on this post should be easy ;)

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Ziemba March 17, 2011 at 3:17 am

Finally a non-voyeuristic post that sill manages to get us all hot and bothered.
Save something for the honeymoon, aka launch and see what wonders await in the waiting.

Thanks for percolating Peter

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Larissa January 7, 2013 at 2:25 am

I like your style.

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Marc March 17, 2011 at 3:22 am

Sound advice… I heard something similar to this years ago from my college writing teacher. He said that when you get an idea for a good story, DON’T TELL ANYONE. He repeated this and drummed it into our heads. He said that once you tell even one person, you will never write the story. You’ll be the wanna-be author who tells all his plots to people at parties but never finishes a book.

Reading your physiological descriptions, it makes more sense than ever :)

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Paige Jeffrey March 17, 2011 at 4:13 am

I am very guilty of this. Had a great idea for a book in my head, told my mother and husband all the juicy details, and felt entirely deflated after when I realised it wasn’t nearly as good out of my head as inside it. The problem is that because I spoke it, I didn’t have a draft in front of me that could have easily been edited to work out the flaws. Learned my lesson the hard way!

Totally makes sense, and a brilliant topic to post on. Thanks Peter. :)

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John Clark March 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Best. Post. Ever.
Need not say more…

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June March 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm

With all due respect to your teacher, this is exactly the same advice given by that ace of writing teachers, Dorothea Brande, in 1934, in her classic, wise, and wonderful book, Becoming A Writer. Still in print, and well-worth reading. And much of what she says has applications for any creative endeavor.

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James Chartrand - Men with Pens March 17, 2011 at 3:22 am

Over the years, people have often asked me in interviews: “So what’s next for MwP, James? What’s the current awesome project you’re working on?”

I never tell them.

I’ll sometimes hint if I’m VERY close to launching or releasing, but I don’t want to be the person who says, “I’m working on XYZ and it’ll be awesome!”… and then for whatever reason, the project stalls and it never gets launched.

There’ve been a few of those, too – one of those Big Shiny Ideas that wasn’t so great in practice, a lack of time, a project that ended up sucking too much money, or a drop in interest.

So I’ll say something like, “I’m working on some pretty awesome stuff… but it’s a secret!” and just keep on with what I’m keeping on until I’m ready to let the world know.

Do I tell anyone my secrets and ideas? SURE! But maybe just one or two people – someone I can bounce ideas off and brainstorm or get support when I need it.

The rest? They can wait. Anticipation is 90% of the fun, after all!

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Paris Vega March 17, 2011 at 3:24 am

Thanks, Peter. Guilty as charged. Silence is golden. Found some quotes on silence:
He who has understanding spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

Proverbs 17:27

Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace.

Proverbs 17:28

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

Proverbs 10:19

He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

Proverbs 13:3

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

Proverbs 21:23

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

Proverbs 15:28

A fool’s mouth is his destruction,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.

Proverbs 18:7

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger,
And his glory is to overlook a transgression.

Proverbs 19:11

A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.

Proverbs 29:11

Do you see a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 29:20

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they
will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your
words you will be justified, and by your words you will be
condemned.

Jesus (Matthew 12:36-37)

found this collection at http://solitaryroad.com/prs21.html

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John Hoff March 17, 2011 at 8:01 am

Love it!

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Erika March 17, 2011 at 3:56 am

I see this common pattern in ME all the time! What do you suggest, though, when I have an idea and want to get some feedback or help on it — like, I know what I want to do but need some technical expertise, need market research, etc. What’s the best way to approach someone for help while still keeping the cards close to the chest?

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Pace Smith March 17, 2011 at 4:00 am

To continue the analogy even further…

Those who are happy with and satisfied by their partners don’t come to SXSW looking for a hookup.

It’s a great place to meet people, have hot interchange of ideas, and maybe some of those exchanges will create lasting relationships. But once you have those relationships (a partnership, a mastermind group, or what have you) you don’t have that pent-up need to share because that need is being fulfilled.

So I would piggyback on your advice, Peter, and say that if you’re in that place of pent-up excitement to share your ideas, focus it toward finding a lasting relationship or relationships. Make friends and meet partners who will be with you throughout the year, not just for one hot idea-fling. Then you’ll find it easier to keep cool next year if that’s what you decide to do.

As for me, I’m in the business of sharing revolutionary ideas. I’d rather be seen as someone who is ready and willing to… uh… “share” than someone who plays hard-to-get, regardless of how attractive that would make me appear to others. (;

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James Chartrand - Men with Pens March 17, 2011 at 4:07 am

There were several people at SXSW who were disappointed they didn’t get to “talk business” with others or who wanted to “pick brains” while they were there… but as you said, I think SXSW isn’t the place to do it.

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Shenee March 21, 2011 at 6:07 am

I really like this idea. I like having one or two really close people or even my little community of folks to test ideas and bounce back and forth with. I am gonna put energy into that.

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seanrox March 17, 2011 at 4:11 am

Guiltiest… Is there a program for this affliction? ;)

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Chris Johnston March 17, 2011 at 4:17 am

You just helped me solve a very big problem. A project I am very excited about, and is very achievable with time, resources, and talent available to me has been very hard for me to get started on. I’ve even considered moving on the the next project rather than starting it. Why? Because that euphoria of sharing the idea far exceeds the feeling you get when start the long, hard work of making it actually happen.

I think in the future I’ll go for the orgasm of achievement rather than the mental masturbation of idea sharing.

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Conor Neill March 17, 2011 at 4:18 am

I scarily find myself in the category of idea tellers… and will spend more time bundling up the idea and executing in future. Good reflection.

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Giulietta Nardone March 17, 2011 at 4:34 am

Hi Peter,

I’m a big believer in just following my enthusiasm. It plays better for me. The word goal in any context makes me not want to do anything associated with it. Feels too restrained, dictatorial.

I’ve felt this pressure sometimes on the Internet to belt this stuff out. May have done it once to little result and decided not to do it again. It makes you not want to do it when you’ve shouted it from the mountain tops. The hinting I’m fine with.

I’ve stopped using the word goal. It’s such a corporate word that reminds me of the gobbledygook that often goes on in forced to comply settings.

Sometimes, though, I have to mention what I’m doing to close confidants on this enthusiasm journey because I need some help.

Enjoyed the post. G.

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Matt March 17, 2011 at 4:37 am

Finally, someone has put this phenomenon into words! I have noticed this in my life. In my life I have realized that the level of failure directly correlated with the amount that I ran my mouth about the future plans of the opportunity. I could never put into words the reason for the failed outcomes, but I knew that they were related. I have recently taken a new approach to business goals and have already seen better results. Do not TELL anyone, SHOW them! Great post!

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Lizzy Shaw March 17, 2011 at 5:16 am

Peter;
Thanks for the great post – this is a phenomenon I have seen over and over in entrepreneur groups to which I belong. We’ve all probably been guilty of it, so thanks for putting it into words; your post will help me keep an eye on it.

Again, terrific post!

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Naomi Niles March 17, 2011 at 6:28 am

This is just the reason I only told a few people about the new business we were putting together and told several people I was working on a secret. And I was busting butt on it for a good 4 months, so it was really really hard not to share.

It seems like the more energy you expel talking, the less you have for doing. This is going to sound kind of woo-woo, but I think besides what you mention (which is awesome), it’s also a little “energetic” in nature.

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Erika March 17, 2011 at 6:38 am

“Woo-woo” cracked me up…and also makes total sense.

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Laura White-Ritchie March 17, 2011 at 6:44 am

I’ll admit it. I’ve been feeding off the afterglow lately. All the while I’ve been feeling kinda dirty….like I should be doing something (crazy, I know!). Last week, I decided I’m not going to talk about my big idea again until I actually have something tangible and real.

Now I’m trying to find ways to reward myself for small step victories that don’t involve more idea orgasms. I’ve gone cold turkey and now I’ve got a ton work to do.

Oh, just you wait….

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Alexa Steele March 17, 2011 at 7:28 am

This is something I figured out about myself a long time ago–after getting called on not doing what I said I was going to do one too many times. You do a fantastic job of explaining the reasons behind it. Thank you for your newsletter, I always love reading it.

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John Hoff March 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

My old real estate investor mentor once told me to never tell people how much money you make and what all you have (now and going on), keeping them guessing is what you want to do.

Question….

What about working with employees?

For example, I have an employee who I need to share my “big” idea with so that it can get implemented properly. Are you referring in this post only talking about what you’ve got going on socially?

Also, truth be told I’ve made money by telling people early what I was creating. This made them want what I had and I put them on a list. Then before even launched my product, I already had a list of buyers.

I suppose in this case I could not tell them what it is but ask them if they’d like to be put on a list of a new service coming out which would satisfy their need.

Great post bud and sorry I missed you in Austin. The short notice ended up being too difficult. Ah maybe next time. Perhaps if you come out to Las Vegas during your tour we’ll go have a drink.

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Karen March 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I think, but Peter will have to clarify, he’s talking about the ideas that aren’t fully formed plans yet. You definitely need to share with employees if they’re working on something. It’s really the best way to get quality results from staff. But I think Peter might have been talking about the ideas that people have that don’t yet have much thought behind them. If you’re able to pre-sell your products, that’s awesome! But I’m guessing you’ve got it pretty clear what you’ll be selling in order to tell people about it. Just a thought.

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Tzaddi March 17, 2011 at 9:34 am

Thanks for highlighting this phenomenon, Peter. Derek Sivers gave a TED talk on this very subject that I had totally forgotten about. http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_keep_your_goals_to_yourself.html

I tend towards being really open with people and I think I’ll have to be a bit more careful about it when it comes to new ideas and works-in-progress. For me the other effect of sharing some of that is a feeling of “OMG I still haven’t done that yet”. So it’s not always a high but sometimes a downer.

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Chris Whittington (The Study Gurus) March 17, 2011 at 9:59 am

Loving the chocolate kettle analogy

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James Chartrand - Men with Pens March 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Yeah! What is a chocolate kettle anyways? I want one. No, scratch that. I’d like several.

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Molly Oehmichen March 17, 2011 at 10:57 am

I’ve definitely been caught in this trap with my most recent idea – I’ve also noticed the low afterwards from knowing deep down you somehow “cheated” to get that high.

I only have one problem – How does this concept apply to a mastermind group? If you have a tight knit group that gets together regularly to discuss progress and collaborate, can you share ideas freely in that type of setting?

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Joseph September 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm

of course molly you can share ideas with your group .since the group is one body its best to keep the idea and project in that circle but never spill your beans to outsiders .until the project is done

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Karen March 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Like most of the commentors I find myself in the sharing too much category. I am a verbal processor (heard that term & thought it sounded nicer than ‘chick who talks too much’!) so a lot of my ideas come out of my mouth before I have a chance to regulate. I often find that I either don’t do it, or I’m met with a naysayer and then I follow them rather ian my heart. I allow others to deflate me. When I do keep quiet, I not only execute but then I don’t have the negativity to deal with!
Thanks for this post – quite timely as I have been over-sharing and needed the reminder!

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James Chartrand - Men with Pens March 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Actually, that sounds like a confidence scenario, Karen – it seems like when you feel confident and know the idea is good, you follow your gut instinct. (And as Peter has said several times, it never leads you wrong.)

But it also seems like when you might feel unsure or impulsive about an idea, you tend to verbalize it… and then don’t feel confident enough to stick to your guns to completion. Make sense?

I may be wrong (Peter’s the pro here, not me) but I’d suggest that a new “rule” might be helpful. Each new idea you get that you feel tempted to share with someone, you hold yourself to a 24-hour waiting period… no telling anyone for 24 hours while you think it over.

Might be that you action a lot more… with more confidence!

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Karen March 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

James – thanks for the insight! I’m thinking back on the last few ideas that I shared and the ones that I didn’t and it could be that you’ve pin pointed it. I’m going to take your suggestion and see what develops over the next few weeks. Thanks for the feedback!

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Cory March 19, 2011 at 12:01 am

Oh, Karen, I hear ya… The curse of the “Verbal Processor”…I’m in your sorority and our motto is “Tell it, Sista Chick, TELL it!” ;)

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Cory March 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Guilty as charged. Giving the noisy litter of puppies in my head each a chew toy, so they won’t blow the momentum by barking excitedly and grabbing the pant legs of passers-by!

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Karen March 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm

LOVE the analogy. How apt! :)

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Courtney Cantrell March 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Leaving a comment on this post is very easy. ; )

I’ve never put these things into words the way you’ve done, Peter, but I’ve felt them all the same. I’ve always instinctively played my cards close. Sadly, my motivation is usually the fear that someone will tell me why my ideas won’t work…but still, my own little bubble of silence at least gives me time to do my behind-the-scenes work until the “grand” unveiling!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts…and thanks also for the tantalizing lemon imagery. It worked. ; )

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Patrick Vuleta March 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

I wouldn’t call it tantalizing… I imagined getting acid in my eyes. :P

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Karim March 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

Now imagine it’s the hottest day in summer, you are sweating hard, you are in a desert beach on some lost island, you are very thirsty… and suddenly a cup, a knife and Shallard’s lemons pop up out of nowhere (+water +sugar)… Tahiti girl optional… :p

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Courtney Cantrell March 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Water, sugar, lemons — yes. But I don’t think I’ll be needing the Tahiti girl. :D

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Karim March 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Hey Courtney,
It’s customisable according to your desires, it can be anything/anyone you’d like, now imagine………………… :p

Courtney Cantrell March 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

LOL I guess my imagination focused on the deliciousness and assumed I was keeping my face away from the spray! ;)

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Courtney Cantrell March 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Karim, I’m a writer — I can imagine quite a bit! :D

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Karim March 17, 2011 at 6:07 am

Oww Peter,
That’s a very smart post.

I admit, it happened to me, and fortunately enough I didn’t give details about… eh, nothing at all : )

Keep up the cool things, Peter!

K’

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Johnny B. Truant March 19, 2011 at 2:05 am

“Playing my cards close” and not often discussing my goals is actually something I learned from Deepak Chopra, of all people. The idea is that if you don’t share your goals except with people you KNOW share your values and attitudes, you know you won’t be unduly influenced by their differing perspectives. If you tell someone you want to fly and they so much as raise their eyebrows skeptically, it changes your energy and attitude toward the goal. It makes you start to doubt your own abilities and motivations.

So I only tell those things to people I know will only support me and believe me 100%. I don’t want constructive criticism at the beginning and planning stage. I want to be totally ignorant about my “inabilities” and isolated, free to “fuck things up” entirely on my own. I like to believe that I don’t need input because I know best. It takes a bit of arrogance to do it — and of course, I DON’T always know best and make big mistakes — but I like it because it’s the only way I’ve found to consistently get out of planning and get to doing.

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Karim March 19, 2011 at 3:17 am

Hey Johnny,
It happened to me too,
When a close friend I trusted started to share feedback in regard of some specific aspects, I thought it was perfect for me, in order to try to do things better… but, when paying a close attention to what this friend was doing, how things were done and most importantly why, I understood that the disguised constructive criticism I received was infact just symptoms of self-sabotage that were a manifest in my friends body of work… I am wondering how exagerated I could see it like that, but I am sure of one thing; I would choose myself the kind of cold/objective feedback I’d use to get my things done better, depending on similar situations, or not.

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Johnny B. March 19, 2011 at 9:06 am

Right, that’s part of it too… often people will crap on your ideas because it justifies THEIR choices not to do THEIR own ideas. Not doing anything is the surest way to avoid failure, so you do have to consider that part of what you hear in criticism might just be another person’s defenses.

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Patrick Vuleta March 19, 2011 at 8:04 am

I don’t see anything wrong with telling people your goals as long as it’s backed up by execution.

That said, when I do share it’s always in general terms. My rule is I don’t have a decent idea until it can be trademarked and until it’s in a form where I can apply for a trademark… back off… you’re not hearing about it.

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Patrick Vuleta March 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I’ll add a follow up to this.

While this approach avoids the trap of unsubstantiated bragging, I do find it leads to uncomfortable conversations. When someone asks “What are you doing” and I say “Oh you know… making a website…” it makes me look like I don’t have any plans.

Maybe it’s time to just shut up and say “I’m doing something great!” and leave it at that.

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Karim March 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Hey Patrick,

Maybe the best alternative is “working on a #secretproject,” and that they will discover it when it’s ready.
Not only will they understand, but they will be even more motivated to discover your creation, and you told them just truth : )

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Patick Vuleta March 27, 2011 at 12:43 am

Hmmm great. I’m currently working on #secretproject, it launches in 2 weeks, and when it does you’re all going to flee in terror.

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Karim March 27, 2011 at 4:46 am

Great Patrick!

The anticipation is awful! :)

Rebecca Kellogg March 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I’ve heard variations on this theme before . . . always from people who are doers rather than dreamers.

You’re right, Peter. It is easy to leave a comment after a post like that.

And . . . I’m up to something. But I’m not going to say what yet.

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Shenee March 21, 2011 at 6:12 am

Oh, guilty guilty guilty. I do think it is because I don’t have that person to trust my ideas with so I just tell the world as soon as I think of it. I have a couple of new things coming up and instead of doing what I was gonna do, I will try this and see if it helps make my ideas happen quicker.

I am also really impatient. So I have bad shiny object syndrome.

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Steve Errey - The Confidence Guy March 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

I think sometimes this can come from the need for validation (as James mentions up there (damn you’re good)).

You blurt out what you’re working on because you want people to reinforce both your idea and your value. Often this happens without even realising it; you’re chatting away quite happily and then – blammo – you’ve spilt the beans and are looking for people to tell you how pretty your beans are.

It’s a great lesson (and one I need to remember for my “wait and see”) – have confidence in your beans, don’t spill them unecessarily.

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kerri March 21, 2011 at 6:33 am

You’re a smartacus!

In my job, I fail at stuff all the time because of this. I have lots of ideas, I advertise them before developing them and then cancel them. Which is a really ammunition against my self esteem.

Also, I really like “I’m an offline man living in an online world.” Me too, except gender switch it.

Thanks and cheers.

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Melissa Dinwiddie March 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Bingo! My best friend is in a playwriting class, and the teacher’s one rule is that nobody in the class is allowed to share *anything* about the play they’re working on. With anyone. Even a spouse.

When she first told me this, I immediately got it. So did my friend, who’d worked on another play before, but had lost interest in it after telling everyone in her life about it.

Oh, baby — me too. So, correct forward.

It’s hard not to share ideas when you’re vibrating with excitement about them, but I must admit the scorpio in my loves the mysterious secretive part…

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Grace March 26, 2011 at 4:48 am

As a reformed (recovering?) NLPer I just wanted to say this made me laugh out loud. Shhh … I’m just about to write a piece, not even for the blog, about exactly this topic of holding your dreams close to your chest. I was remembering how my whole body recoiled when a favourite NLP trainer told me she had lost weight by sharing her weight loss goals with her friends, and actively imagining them laughing at her if she failed. Ouch!

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JP June 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Amazing, I need to take this advice seriously. I have had a huge problem with this since middle school when I was accused of being non social with my peers. This caused me to become a fool by being the center of attention. Today, I am seeing my ideas being robbed by my closest friends. Please take this posting seriously. Keep you personal business to yourself! Forget everyone!!

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Elizabeth July 30, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Thank you for your perspective on this. I think the topic is really interesting and you can read my opinion at: http://elizabethyork.com/should-you-tell-people-your-goals

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Olukoya Oluwatamilore David September 3, 2011 at 2:02 am

I used to hear from some pastors that it is good to tell people your dream,telling people your dream will keep the dream alive but you just have to be selective with who you share your dreams with.But I have got to understand a lot of things through this.that telling people your dream will expose me to more danger.Joseph’s story in the bible is a perfect example

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Jess October 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

I have so many money making ideas. I’m a single mom who is unemployed and living with my parents. I tell some people my great, simple ideas that I know, and they know would work, and people basically laugh at me. I’ve realized that one cannot do something completely on their own. You have to find at least one person who believes in you. Also, having some money in the bank to start something up always helps too…. I just want my own business, I can’t go back working for other companies ever again. My ideas would help people and create jobs. Ugh sometimes I wish I grew up in a healthy, family run business.

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Success-Improvement December 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Definitely!

I thought a lot about this matter.

This tip is worth really thinking about… Not just agreeing with the idea, but really implementing it in your life!

I picture a balloon being filled with air or motivation whenever you think about your dream. You want to fill your air inside your balloon and not share it with everyone else.

But, if you share some air with someone that has the same or greater passion for it as you do, then they will give you more air back, and help you blow up your balloon in the form of information or enthusiasm that will help you.

It’s not dangerous to feel the feelings of already having that which you want.. That’s called visualization. I believe that the negative effect of sharing ideas with people that doesn’t share your enthusiasm, is that you will associate their negative energy with your idea. Most people will never believe as much in your dream as you do.

Also, you want to do what YOU want to do. Not what others expect of you. That’s called duties. You don’t want to make your dream a duty.

Therefore, the best way to communicate with others about your life plan is to be cryptic, and then keep blowing delicious air inside your balloon. Having a personal dreaming is truly enjoyable, and it’s the most powerful source of motivation, when you listen – only to yourself, it feels like you’re listening to your true self. At the same time: remember that sharing with people, that you know will help you blow up your balloon, is very fine :)

~ Success-Improvement

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Daniel December 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I laughed quite a bit reading this article.. and the picture you chose to go with it is just perfect.

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Katie January 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Excellent post. I do this a lot where I don’t like to tell people what I’m up to until it’s actually in the works. Now I know it is something I should be doing. I never really bought into that “share your goals so other people hold you accountable thing.” My friends and family are more results driven.

Thanks!

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Dave March 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm

So how do you collaborate with people, professor?

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Raen Boow March 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm

…Sometimes, I just need to hear that what I’m doing is fucked up and WHY it is fucked up. I sensed that what you are saying is something I’ve known quite long, but never listened fully too in certain important occassions. I lost my motivation to do a video for someone by promising them that I would make it. Now it just lays there halffinished and I’m unsure if that peron would care anymore about it if I finished it.

Thank you. Thank you for telling me shut up. :) I will do as Bob Kelso says: Stay away from definite answers! Leave som wiggleroom!

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Tera October 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I totally agree. Not only that but how qualified are the people you share with to know what will help you and what won’t.

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Holly August 22, 2014 at 6:42 pm

In my opinion I’ve told some of my so called “friends” I was going to be a jazz musician. And they said negative comments and tried to discourage me when all I ever did was encourage them. Long story short. I think that in my case its a music career there going to find out I’m pursuing it either way. So I might as well tell them. My “friends” said I couldn’t do it. They said no one listens yo jazz. But I was I can do all things with he who strengthens me. I need new friends. Friends don’t do that. They will reap what they so.

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Katie August 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Go for your dreams, Holly – and yes, get new friends. I feel your pain. I shared one of the greatest creative breakthroughs of my life with my mom a few years ago, and she told me I was bipolar and there must be something wrong with me. It took me two years to realize that comment stuck in my consciousness and created writer’s block. Naysayers will sap every ounce of your enthusiasm, especially in the beginning when you are too excited to notice the damage of subtle sabotage.

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Lunch Break Girl September 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

This is the best post ever. Not only am I always coming up with ideas personally, but it’s also a part of my job. Of course my ideas at work always come into fruition, but I have about a 30% success rate personally. Sharing ideas is something that I love to do, but now I realize it’s because I need to shut the F*kc up!!! Thank you!!

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