Almost everything we know about goal setting and communication is wrong. Big time. Here’s why: telling people your goals is a fatal mistake.
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 your 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.
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The secret of having a personal life is not answering too many questions about it.
Lots of us have a bad habit of wearing our hearts on our sleeves. This can make us an open book even to strangers. We definitely don’t want that – mystery is the spice of life, after all. Keeping a clear distinction between your personal life and your professional life is a difficult (but very important) skill to master. You have to be very picky who you share your secrets with, because, unfortunately, not everyone has good intentions.
Importantly, you need to be careful to make sure that the details of your personal life can’t be used to hurt you. It’s useful to have a basic list of certain personal information you should never share with others. If you don’t know how to make your own list, we’re here to help. In fact, we’ve combined some secrets you should always try to keep to yourself, no matter how strong the urge to share them with everyone.
HERE ARE 7 SECRETS TO NEVER TELL ANYONE ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
1. PAST RESENTMENTS
We all have negative stories about our personal life to tell about people we don’t like. (Remember those schoolmates or former colleagues that you held a grudge against years ago – and maybe still do? Yeah, same here.) It’s always best to let go of these feelings and discuss them as little as you can in public. This is for you as much as for others, because negativity is exhausting. Not just to feel but also to listen to. People prefer communicating with positive conversation partners, those who have interesting insights to provide – not ones who gripe about some other people they don’t even know. Let go of whatever’s weighing you down. Try to focus on the present and you’ll find that more and more people will be keen to talk to you.
2. MATERIAL BELONGINGS
As we all know, certain things in life are far more important than their cost. But sometimes, we can’t help but brag about the new car we have, or the new phone we just bought at an exclusive price. As much as Parks and Recreation might tell you otherwise, your colleagues don’t want to know about how you’ve been treating yourself. It can make you come off as arrogant and overly obsessed with the monetary value of things rather than their unique significance. Modesty is a wonderful accessory. You should try and spread it throughout your conversations.
3. GOALS FOR THE FUTURE
You might find this unlikely, but there is actually science behind the fact that you’re much more likely to achieve your long-term goals if you don’t share them with others. When you tell others about your future aspirations, you almost feel as if the enjoyment of achieving the goal has been taken from you. As a result, you don’t work as hard towards it. If you keep your goals to yourself, however, you have a much higher chance of achieving them. And once you have done that, feel free to tell the whole world about it.
4. YOUR INCOME
Only one group of people should be allowed to know the details of your income: the people who work in your bank. Money is never a nice subject to talk about in public because you never know what anyone’s financial situation looks like. It may seem like you’re bragging without meaning to. Money – and knowledge about finances – can shift relationships irreparably. Once your financial situation becomes public knowledge, people just start looking at you differently without being able to help it. To save yourself from that kind of awkward situation, keep the details of your income to your bank statements.
5. GOOD DEEDS
You may have heard that good deeds always attract good karma. That’s true, and you should never be discouraged from doing good – however, if you start bragging about it, it takes on a whole different perspective. Once you brag about something good that you’ve done, you’re making it all about yourself, thus invalidating the good that you’ve already created. Many of the greatest philanthropists in the world remain anonymous for a very good reason. When you do a charitable deed, you want the attention to be on the people or the cause that you’re helping and not on yourself.
Everyone seeks reprieve and enlightenment in different places. Some turn to religion, others turn to sports, others – to mindfulness and meditation. Whatever your choice is, don’t force it on anyone else. Because what’s sure to turn anyone away from your choice of enlightenment is any notion of preaching about how good it is and how nothing else will ever match up. Then you just turn into one of those people who shout on the streets about how their version of religion is the right one. How often do you listen to them? That’s what you’ll be if you start “preaching,” too.
Whether it’s your extended family or your blood relatives, keep the problems in the family. Don’t abuse people’s trust. You’ve been told those secrets because you are close to these people, but they haven’t allowed you to spread them around to everyone in your social circle. They confided in you, and breaking that confidence is the worst thing you could possibly do. Be respectful of other people’s secrets. In return, you can expect for them to treat you the same.
We like to think that everyone is interested in every aspect of our personal life, but unfortunately that’s rarely the case. There are conversations that you should only have in certain environments, and others you shouldn’t have at all. Learn to make that distinction to make sure you don’t turn into an over-sharer. Positive thinking is very important in this process. In closing, don’t bring yourself down if you’ve been doing any of the above things. Just start thinking about how you’re going to be better from now on.