You’re Not Behind, But Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Plans

Source: STIL, via Unsplash (Unsplash License)

Lately, I’ve been more conscious about how often I talk about all the creative projects I want to do this year.

Since I was 18, the primary things I would keep talking about are my dreams and what visions I want to bring to fruition. I mean, for an introvert, I only feel comfortable talking about what I know and as a very shy and awkward teenager, I felt that my grand dreams would make up for my lack of fitting in or being normal like other people who were more likable and highly praised than me.

But due to the rise social media influencers, viral bloggers, and self-made millionaires under 30, I feel extremely far behind. And I believed that it was all due to my lack of working for 20 hours a day, hustling without giving myself a break — if I want to achieve the same astronomical levels of success as everyone else, I’d have to sacrifice my mental and physical health to get there before everyone else who dreams of achieving the same thing.

Society worships three things: money, ease, and the rapid ascension to success because that shows how powerful, intelligent, and creative certain people compared to others.

If you want the masses to bow down before your feet, you have to make a lot of money doing something you’re passionate about, make it look extremely easy, and churn out ten times the amount of work as an average person. You have to be a machine. But you can’t be too obvious about it, since you still have to market yourself as an authentic human and tell everyone they’re special in their own way, yet you still hustle hard behind the scenes and come out on top — because deep down, you know you are the special one and everyone else is failing or mediocre.

I have a love-hate relationship with success and productivity articles and blog posts. On one hand, the truly great ones enable me to hone in on my purpose, be more self-aware of my own skillset, and help me see the potential within myself even when everyone in my past couldn’t see it and made me feel less than. But on the other hand, I dislike how many of these are written by people who only write about being a productivity machine and nothing else — they talk a lot about achieving their goals as a writer, but there aren’t any interesting stories about what it means to be human, what it means to fail, criticism of society, and personal vignettes written with their signature style and distinct writing voice that makes me want to follow them, not for their expertise but for who they are. I mean, come on, there’s more to discuss than just work, work, work.

Am I that far behind?

I may look like I’m far behind everyone else. I’ve experienced setbacks and identity crises, which made me stagnate creatively. But mulling over these things won’t help me move forward, and instead, I’m going to give myself credit for what I’ve finished so far, which weren’t easy feats:

— I wrote my first poetry book at the age of 18.

— I started my first novel at age 18 and finished it over winter break (a few months after my 19th birthday), but I churned out the majority of it (100,000 words) in five weeks.

— In 2014, I recorded my first song “Echoes (At the End of Time).” Even though this song never went viral, I learned that I personally would prefer having a home studio instead of going to a pricey one with pressing time constraints and not much room for experimentation. Being in a studio is quite expensive and each additional hour is like in the $75–100 range.

— I started two WordPress blogs in 2014 and 2015: one was for poetry and the other was for life listicles and essays. Both blogs did pretty well with 100 followers in a few weeks, but I have nothing to show for it because I quit working on those after I went back to college to finish my degree.

— I feel like I’m so far behind other writers and journalists because I studied what I didn’t enjoy for 2.5 years of undergrad (Electrical Engineering). I missed out on opportunities to get ahead of my competitors and be more involved in writing, internships, and connecting with people. I basically was a sad hermit slaving away at circuit problems I could care less about, no one knew who I was, and I’d constantly get passed over for job opportunities because I am not well-connected at all. However, I did survive University Physics I, II, & III, and proved my competence in Fourier Transform (which was a topic I didn’t dread and actually liked).

— I wrote my second poetry book at the age of 21. I got nothing but positive reviews, but I decided to remove it from the market a few months later because I’d changed so much and most of it didn’t resonate with me anymore.

I can put in the work and finish things from start to finish, but on the outside, it looks like I have nothing to show for it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m unsuccessful or that I’m all talk and no show. I have completed projects, and while most people push for churning out everything you do, I hesitated and instead, allowed these dreams I’ve built to slip away. At the time, it wasn’t right for me to promote them because I had a lot of growing and evolving to do and honestly, do I really want my reputation to be based on the work I did at 21?

As I examine my finished but not fully polished projects, I realize that my failed dreams were for the best and I’m immensely thankful that they didn’t go viral or become bestsellers because I’m better now and have more interesting things to say than to talk about my dreams (at least, I hope I do).

I’m at the point where my creativity’s starting to flood back, not to me, but from within me. I recently finished a poetry collection and I can say that I feel confident enough about it to keep it on the market and not remove it three months later. I’ve passed the 100-article threshold and even though I’m not where I want to be just yet and I feel like I’m just beginning, I know that if I do more and remain committed to getting stuff done by a strict deadline, I’ll be better off than I was a few years ago.

But this time, I’m not going to talk about what’s next.

Why should you remain silent about your plans?

  1. It’s important not to be distracted by all the potential ways people could be evaluating you, judging you, or wondering why you aren’t done yet.
  2. The less you talk, the more work you’ll get done and the sooner you can release your projects out into the world.
  3. There’s a higher chance of not following through when you say you’ll do all these great things and then not finishing them on time because everything takes longer to finish than you think.
  4. The more you talk about your personal plans, the more people will wonder if there’s anything of substance with what you’re about to do. Talking excessively about work that hasn’t been done yet is a surefire way to lose credibility.
  5. You might have to go through several drafts, no matter what kind of project you work on. Nothing will be ready right off the bat and you need to keep in mind that announcing things too early can make it difficult for you to keep your promises — and then people will see you as just a wannabe dreamer with no talent or work ethic.
  6. People are skeptical these days and even though you might want to hope for their support, realize that if you’re going to attempt anything outside of your comfort zone and tackle a large project that has the potential to transform the way you think, feel, live, and believe, you won’t gain the attention you’re seeking because honestly, people are fickle and the moment you say you have to delay your release date, the more they aren’t going to trust that you can commit to keeping your vows.
  7. The best course of action to take is to remain silent, eliminate distractions from others, and remain focused on doing the best work you can and completing it. Only then will you have earned your success and transform from a wannabe dreamer to a powerhouse.

But remember, you’re human too. You’re allowed to work behind the scenes without showing results right away, scrap everything you’ve done, and start over again. After all, nobody is expecting you to be the perfect machine who can churn out perfect work on your first try, especially when you’re still new and relatively obscure.

In times like these, it’s best to remind yourself that you’re doing the difficult work, but you can change directions when it’s necessary. People may say you’re not doing enough, but in the end, it’s totally your call and you owe it to yourself to take care of your whole self, so that your work can reflect who you are in your best state of being.