Why You Should Never Talk About Your Goals
Trust me, when it comes to talking “goals”, I can talk. I can talk your ear off discussing my strategies for success. I know because I’ve done it so many times before.
I’ve talked about day-trading my money till it’s 16 times what I started with. I’ve talked about writing bestsellers. I’ve talked about building social enterprises that save lives.
In fact, there’s rarely been a time when I haven’t barraged my close friends with plans for future success. And most of these times, I never even ended up trying.
Now, for the first time in my life, I have shut up (well, kind of). I’ve stopped talking about what I want, or where I hope to see myself. And also for the first time, I’m actually making progress. This is not a coincidence.
Even if you’re not the serial-talker that I am, you can probably think of several times that you’ve gone on about what you were going to do. Yet, the times that you’ve actually followed through are likely in the handful. Maybe you were so exhausted by talking about your goals that you never even started. On this of course, I speak from experience.
The scary thing is, you can go on talking without acting for so long that you stop believing you will ever follow through. Even now, there’s probably a little voice in your head that isn’t sure you’ll even try to do what you care about most.
I hear that voice, but I’ve stopped believing it. This time is going to be different. It’ll be different because you’ll make it happen. And you’ll take the first step when you stop talking about your goals.
Why You Should Shut Up
You should shut up about your goals because you’re stalling for a solution you won’t get.
Thing is, if you’re talking about your goals before you’ve started, it’s because you’re seeking validation. Regardless of how amazing the goal is, or how foolproof your strategy to get there, you’re still talking instead of acting because you don’t believe yet.
You’re talking because you’re trying to convince other people that your goals are worth working for. And by convincing others you’re hoping to convince yourself. You want other people to tell you that your goals are worth fighting for.
The truth is, this is not something other people can do for you. There is nothing someone else can tell you that will validate your goals. This is for two reasons:
1. Most People Don’t Get it
First, most people won’t get it. They just don’t understand why your goals are worth fighting for — and they’ll transmit their confusion or their downright skepticism onto you.
See, if you have a goal that’s worthwhile, it’s likely that people around you can’t see why it’s worth pursuing. To create something, you have to pursue a vision that others can’t even see yet. And goal-fulfillment is essentially creative. You’re making something astonishing out of the most common ingredients in our universe: time and energy.
Goal-fulfillment is essentially creative. You’re making something astonishing out of the most common ingredients in our universe: time and energy.
So, it’s likely that the goals that are worth pursuing most — the most ambitious and stunning achievements available to your person — are not even comprehensible to those around you. This vision is what makes your goal worth pursuing.
But this also means that most people around you won’t get what all the fuss is about. They just don’t see what you see. They can’t give you the validation because they don’t believe yet. But that’s no reason to stop.
2. Real Goals Just Need a Leap of Faith
If Gandhi had waited on other peoples’ opinions of civil disobedience to decide that it was worth pursuing, we’d likely never have seen one of the greatest human accomplishments of politics and morality to ever be.
Sure, I’m being a touch dramatic. “Our goals aren’t as revolutionary as Gandhi’s!”
But my point is precisely this: every goal — if it is to mean anything at all — is a revolution in thought. It is an upending of reality, however humble. And that always takes conviction.
If you’re waiting for other people to give you that conviction, you’re delusional. This burden is all yours. Even the people who support you wholeheartedly cannot take the leap of faith for you.
To accomplish a goal is to snatch a vision from the infinite worlds of the possible. It is to bring this goal to life in the rarest and most precious kind of existence — reality. To have the audacity to think that you can even do such a thing is nothing less than monumental stupidity.
But you have to be the one who is stupid enough to try. Nobody else can try for you — however much they cheer.
What About That Voice in Your Head?
So if you can’t talk, what should you do about that insecure voice in your head, the one that seeks validation? Actually, nothing. That voice is an essential part of the process, and any goal worth having comes with this insecurity and unsureness.
When it comes to accomplishing goals, that unsure voice is usually the signal to forge ahead.
You will be afraid when you pursue a goal because change is afoot, and you’re at the thick of it. That’s scary because by choosing to act you are taking responsibility for your future. Things could go wrong, and when they do, it’ll be your fault entirely.
But if there’s ever a future that you want, you have to take the responsibility to make it happen. There is simply no other way it would come to be. So, if your goals are too intimidating to start, if you’re second-guessing yourself or waiting for the right moment, remember: this is exactly what working on your most important goals feels like.
You’re not afraid because something’s wrong, you’re afraid because something is right: you are moving in the right direction. The right place is here. The right time is now. This is exactly who you are supposed to be and this is exactly what you are supposed to do. So just start.
Because once you start working, you’ll realize that you don’t even feel the need to talk about your goals anymore. Acting itself gives you all the validation you need. And as you see that your goals really are worth working on, speaking becomes superfluous. That voice recedes into the background.
And in that silence of pure action — all the effort you put in is worth it in the very moment that you act. It’s worth it because in that instant you know you have accomplished the most extraordinary thing: you would have tried.
If you enjoyed this read, you can find more of my work at: https://siddharthchatterjee.com/blog/