I’ve been thinking about a tweet I wrote a while ago that garnered a lot of attention:
“New Rule: Until you’ve made progress on a future work project/idea, you’re not allowed to talk about it. Discuss results, not just plans.”
I remember exactly when I was struck by this idea and wrote this down on a piece of paper. At the time, it was something I desperately needed to hear myself.
The reason I think it resonated with others was because we all have a tendency to talk endlessly about what we’ll do in the future.
We’ve all spent time telling friends, “I’m going to start a new website, blog, lemonade stand, dating agency, fashion line”, and we proceed to list off a litany of ways that our project will be the most awesome thing ever, then go home, get ourselves excited and…proceed to do absolutely zero hours work on it for the next 6 months.
Because talking creates the illusion of progress.
This is why people love meetings so much. It’s why people get locked in the endless planning stage of life – because it’s much more exciting than getting our hands dirty with actually moving forward with the difficult work that would lead us to our dream.
That’s why when we finally meet someone who seems to execute, and talks about the things they’ve already accomplished or are in the process of doing right now, it’s insanely attractive.
When we meet people who are in the thick of things, taking action (and even making mistakes), it’s breath of fresh air from all the talkers and pretenders and wannabe’s.
In life, I think we should all aspire to be the one at the party who can share the cool story of what they created, or how they took a chance on a creative project that changed the course of their life – even if it was a disaster, or a harrowing experience, that’s just as good.
What matters is that we are people who do more than just talk.
I remember listening to an interview recently with the screenwriter Kelly Marcel, who talked about her nightmarish experience in being hired to write the script for the Fifty Shades Of Grey movie.
Her story is one of a writer whose work got taken and trodden over, who tried to put her creative stamp on a film and then was overridden by forces in Hollywood out of her control.
She felt heartbroken and took a while to pick herself up mentally from the defeat.
But in the end, she still has the experience to take away from it.
She was there, in the dirt, fighting and taking chances, which meant that even after the whole ordeal was over, she had a fascinating story to share with others that came from being a do-er instead of a talker.
People always ask how they can be more interesting. One of the ways is just to be someone who gets their hands dirty in the busy work of making progress instead of endlessly talking all the time.
Next time you’re at dinner and have that urge to just start talking about a project you might work on in the future, take that energy and instead decide you’re going to wait until you’ve taken a real step towards actually doing it first. It will inspire and motivate you to get moving so you can tell people about your progress.
Ultimately, talking and dreaming about what you might do later is just laying on the ground and endlessly looking at clouds. But it’s the person digging in the mud who has all the gold to share.
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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
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4 Replies to “How Talking LESS Can Make You A Happier, More Successful, More Attractive Person”
That is such a refreshing side on how your brain gets all high of the idea on taking the steps and building that dream over and over again, instead of actually taking action to make it happening.
As your brother talked about repeatedly: millimetre shifts.
This is definitley one for me! Thank you so much for sharing. You’re on topic about what’s going on in my life again.. Thank you for the motivation!
Nothing but love,
Not talking before accomplishing is a great point and a particularly timely reminder for me.
The trap of subconsciously assuming that you have accomplished a project and getting a rewarding jolt of dopamine starts even earlier, when you put it on your “goals” list. This trap is so insidious that even knowing about it does not help you completely avoiding it. And of course, formulating and writing one’s goals is a critical activity that should not be abandoned.
I am wondering if not talking about your plans not only forces you to actually pursue these plans but also negates the smugness created by mere writing down the goals. It it works like that, it’s an even more powerful technique with a potential to bring great results.
Thank you, Steve! And congratulations with your Doctorate!
Couldn’t agree more! So many people around me have been like this in the past (and persisting into the present), and I get tired of the “yes men” who continually talk a big talk without following though with these grandiose visions and schemes. Especially when it involves other people who may be impacted in real ways by the person’s empty promises and fake plans. I enjoy the company of extroverts, but sometimes this is a pitfall for these folks: they will say anything in the moment to charm the friend, family member, or date who is the unfortunate recipient of these wishy-washy declarations, dreams for the future, et al…however, I think it’s certainly made me a skeptic, and enhanced my critical thinking skills to have been around such talk, so that has been a plus. And, the determination to not be the kind of person who consistently does this, as you mentioned. I think it takes a certain kind of forbearance as well as a resolve to ACT, not just talk endlessly about nebulous goals.
Unbelievably appropriate. In other words, walking the walk vs. talking the talk. Incredibly difficult. As always, excellent advice. Thank you.
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