I’ve always ascribed to the “kind of keep them a secret” position.  It’s comfy and safe there. 

If I tell people what I am working toward, they will encourage me and push me, but they’ll also know if I fail.  So, I pick and choose who I tell what. 

This blog has been a huge step out of said comfort zone to announce to the world that I am joining the legions of people who feel called to write.  My heart was RACING when I made the first post – why?  I was fearful of judgment and failure, when in reality, I’ve gotten positive responses and encouragement from every post.  And, it’s not just my sister and close friends who are reading this!! 

That’s pretty cool.

Then, just a few days ago, I was driving and listening to a Ted Talk.  I love Ted Talks, and this particular one was titled, “Keep your goals to yourself” by Derek Sivers.   

It’s short – only three minutes or so, but he essentially says that if you share your goals, you are far less likely to succeed.  What?!?  This is because you get encouragement and warm fuzzies just from sharing your goals (like I have with this blog), so your brain decides it’s already reached the goal!

He offers three strategies for countering this:  “you could resist the temptation to announce your goal, you can delay the gratification that social acknowledgment brings, and you can understand that your mind mistakes the talking for the doing, but if you do need to talk about something, you can state it in a way that gives you no satisfaction, such as ‘I really want to run this marathon so I need to train 5 times a week and kick my ass if I don’t.’” 

Who wants to get their ass kicked?  Not me, but I do want to be accountable toward reaching my goals.

So now what? 

I’ve already put it all out there and shared my goals.  I’ve gotten gratification and social acknowledgement from my posts.  According to Mr. Sivers, the only thing left to do is to state my goal in a miserable fashion for myself, so I’ll just use his marathon example as a template. 

Here goes:  “I really want to write a novel, so I need to write every single day – I’ll fail if I don’t.”  And I won’t fail everyone who reads this, I’ll fail me.  That is the scariest prospect of all.

No Comments

  1. hawleywood40 on April 22, 2011 at 1:26 am

    I can really relate to this! I recently made the choice to “put it out there” that I am a writer who intends to break into the publishing world too, and it scared me silly. But I did it because I knew that fear of people knowing my dream and watching me fall on my face might just keep me scrabbling even more to make it happen : ).

    • Amy Isaman on April 22, 2011 at 3:15 am

      Those were my thoughts exactly! A perk has been that this blog has been fun too – and its kept me focused and, like you, scrabbling to do something about this big announcement I made.

  2. Dad on April 22, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I totally disagree with Mr. Sivers. I learned at the PACE Seminar (oh no, not Pace again) that the subconscious cannot distinguish negative from positive affirmations (goals). Thus, “don’t fail” registers as “fail”. The example given was a golfer standing at the tee thinking “don’t hit the ball in the water” and then immediately hitting the ball in the water. Always visualize what you want to achieve and set your goals accordingly. Watch a downhill racer visualize every turn, every gate, every jump, before she starts down the course. She is NOT thinking “don’t crash”. Think leather bound first editions, book signings, untold wealth from royalties, and recognition as one of America’s great writers. Make your first writing goal a short note to Mr. Sivers telling him he sucks, in a positive way of course.

    • Amy Isaman on April 22, 2011 at 3:18 am

      Dad – did you watch the talk? He actually cites studies!! I don’t necessarily think he’s talking about the power of visualization but rather the idea that when we get kudos or “atta girls” for something, we are not as inclined to complete it because we’ve already gotten the psychological gratification of an “atta girl.” I agree that visualization is a good tool; I just found his perspective interesting. I hadn’t ever heard that before, but it did make some sense to me too.

  3. Dr. Tom Bibey on April 22, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Well kid, here’s my take on it. It’s like what I just wrote on my blog; with art you toss your heart out there and see if people stomp on it. Some will reject you, but when folks embrace you the pain is forgotten in a hurry.

    I guess it’s bit like dating, although I am an old happily married guy and haven’t been an expert in that subject for many decades. If you don’t take some chances on rejection there is no way to ever have to good fortune to figure out who loves you for just who you are.

    Write what is true to you and it will work out over time. Don’t hold back. All I can share is my experience, but it has worked out fine for me and my book, and I’m a “heart on the sleeve” old man if there ever was one.

    Dr. B, author, “The Mandolin Case”

    • Amy Isaman on April 22, 2011 at 3:27 am

      I’m so glad you posted a comment because now I found your blog, and its wonderful! Thank you! I agree with your philosophy – write your truth and those with whom it resonates will find you. Others may leave (or stomp on it) and that’s okay too. This blog is a huge step in me embracing and figuring all that out, and its definitely a fun journey.

  4. Stacie Gardner on April 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I am so glad you are writing this blog, because now there are those of us out there like me who can share the journey with you!! I tend to agree more with Dr. Bibey than with Mr. Sivers; in general, sharing our goals is sort of like a system of checks and balances. We all need kudos and “atta girls” to keep going some days! If nobody knows what you are trying, then you won’t get “checked up on” plus positive feedback, for me at least, is one of the things that keeps me going. If I’m dieting, and someone says, “hey, you’re looking great!” then I am much more likely to continue whatever it is I’m doing successfully to lose weight. You are a great writer, and I am so lucky to share your experience!!

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