Stop Talking About Your Goals

Talking will not get you to where you want to be. Only work can do that.

March 07, 2017


I really like Derek Sivers. He’s unconventional, and advocates for doing things your own way. He’s been very successful, but yet he learns and grows in public every day.

Recently, I stumbled across his TED talk: Keep Your Goals To Yourself

It’s an interesting philosophy, stating that when you talk about your goals you are less likely to accomplish them.

Why? When you talk about your goals, you begin to put on an attitude or feeling that personifies that goal. It makes you think that you are closer to your goal than you actually are, and that you are already successful without having put in very much work.

Feeling like there is a lot more work to be done is a much better place to be in than feeling like you have already done enough. You will underestimate the effort necessary to reach your goal when you talk about it.

He backs it up with social psychology in the video.

This Is For Personal Goals. Not Group Goals.

Personal goals lack accountability. That’s exactly why you need the mental capacity to stay motivated and in a mindset of working (not talking).

Group goals are different, because of the built in accountability. Group goals need to be communicated so everyone is on the same page.

Why This Resonates With Me

It’s painful to admit it, but I do this a lot. I love the thought of working on cool projects, and telling people all of the great ideas that I have.

But when it comes down to it, when I sit down to work on that cool project, the motivation is just not there and I waste my time on distractions. Though, in a week I will feel as if I have done something.

This is why I tend to jump from project to project, without having done very much work on any of them.

I actually came to this revelation the other day before watching this video. I looked at all of the things I am working on, and really wondered why I hadn’t made meaningful progress on any of it.

Sure, I do have actual goals that are goals for actual reasons. But when I present them to the world and tell everyone “I am X”, when I am clearly not, it takes away the pressure to put in the work to actually achieve my goals.

I’ll Still Talk About What I am Working On

I don’t think that is a problem. People are genuinely interested in what people are doing. The issue is when the conversation tends towards big picture claims.

The more you can focus on being all about the things you are working on now, the more you can protect that lofty goal that you have in your head.

Talking about what you are working on is important for learning as well. If you know how to explain something in a simple way to someone, then it shows you have mastered the topic.

Call To Action

From now on I won’t be talking about my goals with other people. I’ll talk about the work I am putting in, and the interesting things that come along with that!

Once I have made meaningful progress and can show someone something that I have finished, then I can talk about the goals that I had and the vision for it.

I hope you enjoyed this!