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I’m going to stop sharing my ideas with people.
Maybe you should too.
Not that everyone should, or that it’s always a bad thing, but the more often you share your ideas with other people, the less often you’re actually going to follow through on them. At least, that’s been the case for me.
I have a bad habit feeling the inner gestation of something exciting and original, only to cut it into pieces and share the slices with anyone willing to listen. This leaves me with little motivation left over for myself.
There are plenty of articles written and research done on this very subject. The results are always the same. Announcing your goals makes you much less likely to take the necessary steps towards achieving them. Our brains send us the same pinch of dopamine when we’re talking to someone about a great idea we have as it would were we to have actually accomplished the goal.
This makes so much sense when I think back to the various ideas I’ve had over the past few years. It’s expensive living in Southern California, so I thought I could jump on the #VanLife train, buy and convert a van, and live in it for a year or so to save some money and maybe do some traveling. It honestly still sounds like fun to me.
I also still don’t have that van three years later.
I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve told about that idea and the variety of “Oh? Cool!”, “That’d be fun, you should do it!”, and “Why not? Better now than never!” reactions I’ve gotten while talking about it at length to friends, family, coworkers, and bartenders trying to be encouraging. I don’t even bring it up anymore because I’m sure people are tired of hearing about it.
I love hot sauce too.
I work in a kitchen and would occasionally bring in peppers to work and mix up different hot sauces to share with whoever else likes to breath fire. Everyone really liked the recipes I threw together. I had a cool idea to start a line of hot sauces called Scotty’s Hotty’s with each flavor having its own specialized pepper-themed pinup-style girl as the label/sticker you could collect with each bottle. Fun, right?
Still haven’t worked on that.
Told so many people, got so many reactions on the small batches I was making, and got discouraged because of the actual business side of starting a business that I just let the idea fade into nothing. Will I ever return to it? Who knows.
My point is that I am absolutely guilty of throwing all my cards on the table so quickly that all I’m really doing is showing people how scattered my mind is when it comes to sticking to one thing. Not the most attractive quality to have.
Writing has been the one consistent thing that I’ve been able to keep up with because, as much as it’s nice getting the feedback from everyone on this site, it’s mostly for myself.
But even with writing, I told a million people about starting a comedy sitcom — never did it. I told people about a book I was trying to write — still haven’t published. I was starting to tell people about how I was going to start a weekly newsletter and give people new writing every week — I guess I made a landing page and wrote the first week email, but still, haven’t really been keeping up on it.
I have gotten more done than I give myself credit for, but not as much as I may have had I just shut the hell up about it.
I understand that this isn’t the case for a lot of people, but for me, I have a hard time not revealing what my plans are when I start getting excited about an idea. Maybe it’s just my attention-seeking nature that makes me want to grab people by the shoulders and pull them uncomfortably close and say into their face Hey! Look at what my brain is thinking of! Isn’t it cool?? Aren’t I smart and clever?! Look at me and tell me it’s awesome!!
I just wish that feeling would stick around during the actually doing it process. I get all the smiles and nods of encouragement when I’m professing my intentions, and then I go about the rest of my day as if I already accomplished the damn thing.
I see it like wanting to paint a mural.
You have a huge wall you’re going to fill with all sorts of colors and designs and you’re so excited to get started. You have a vision for it and it’s going to look amazing, you just know it. You’re also — for the sake of this analogy — pulling a wagon around with you with all the paint you plan on using to complete your masterpiece.
You’re so excited that when people ask you what you’ve been up to, you jump at the chance to tell them about this amazing mural you’re going to paint. They ask you more about it and you in your excitement say, “It’s too hard to explain. Here, let me show you!” You then proceed to pull out a miniature canvas and, using the paint you’re carrying around, replicate your grand idea on a much smaller scale to show this person what your idea is going to look like. They smile and nod and give you a few Oohs and Ahs and tell you how cool it looks and how they can’t wait to see the real thing and you leave feeling really good about yourself and your amazing idea.
You do this for fifty other people.
Every time you find yourself talking to someone you haven’t told about your idea yet, you steer the conversation towards it and eventually there you are, painting a miniature version of your mural for them. They give you the approval you want, and you move on yet again.
Eventually, though, when you find yourself with enough time to actually go and work on the mural, you find that all of the paint cans you were dragging behind you the whole time have little to no paint left. You used it all up showing everyone else a smaller version of your bigger idea. Now, you’re barely left with enough to fill a small frame, let alone a gigantic wall-sized mural. You gave too much of yourself away and don’t have anything left over to carry you to your goal.
This is exactly how I’ve begun to notice it feels when I share too much of a new idea I have. Like I’m just handing over my energy and inspiration bit by bit to anyone willing to listen until my well of creative motivation has run dry.
That’s why I’m just going to shut up from now on. I’m going to start reserving my energy for the things that matter — the ideas themselves.
It may not always be the case, as sometimes it can be really helpful to get advice from other people who may have a different perspective on your vision, but you should ask for that advice sparingly and with intention. Don’t use the idea of asking for advice as an excuse just so you can talk about yourself and how brilliant your idea is.
Keep your ideas close to your heart and nurture them to life first. They need to grow some legs and start taking a few breaths on their own before you just let them wander around in someone else’s head. Every time you hand your idea over for someone else to hold and gawk at, it returns to you weaker and in even more need of attention and care.
If you stop sharing every little thing you think of just to get the quick-burst satisfaction of someone else’s passing approval, you might actually create all these things you keep going on about.
Stop moving your mouth so much and your hands will naturally step up to compensate to bring your inner world into being.