Do Something Nobody Will Hear About
You may find out how much of a badass you truly are
When was the last time you did something no one knew about? When was the last time you wrote a piece no one would ever read? Or finished a book worth of articles and your Facebook feed had no clue?
Sometimes, and a lot more so now, I hide my personal victories because my sense of confidence and worth grows when I know what I am capable of, and I know that no one else knows this.
It’s a refreshing exercise I have started getting into; holding on to projects I’m working on until I’m ready to ship; working, for weeks, months even, and not telling a soul.
Only my wife sees how early I wake and how late I lay, but even she has no idea what exactly I’m working on.
Yes, she has the big picture, but the small things I am most proud of, go unnoticed by her.
And that’s intentional.
I noticed that when I didn’t get the feedback I thought I deserved, I’d start doubting myself. I hated that need for validation I had developed: it sent me watching stats and refreshing my feed to see if anyone had commented. I knew it wasn’t healthy. I knew I had to find a way out.
When I came across a video positing this idea of doing something and not telling anyone, a lot that I had been thinking about clicked: I started small.
I’ll write today, but I won’t publish. I’ll make a collage of pictures but I won’t share. I’ll make a playlist for myself.
Little by little, I noticed I spent more time doing, than waiting.
Now, I feel the tug between sharing what I have done — or what I am doing — and keeping it until it’s ready. I love how it makes me feel: more patient, more grateful. And mostly, more proud of myself.
I’m learning all these things I actually care about and planning to use them when I want to use them. I’m empowered with each step I take because I feel a lot more in control of my actions. No amount of external validation can beat that.
Not yet anyway…
So, how can you do this?
Start small. Pick something you want to do, simply because you want to, and do it. It could be making up your bed or watching a movie you like. It could be binge-watching a show. Yeaup. All that matters is that you do it and don’t tell anyone.
The more exciting it is, the stronger the urge to tell someone would be. So, it’s important to start with something you know is only exciting for you.
You’ve picked your thing. Now what?
Pay attention to your impulse to share. Do you want to post a picture of you watching it? Do you want to make a story or write a review? Whatever it is, pay attention and ask yourself why.
Are you sharing to add value? Or so that you’ll look cool? Do you want a specific person to see this, or for the world to know?
This exercise is to help you notice your personal validation triggers: the things that prompt you to seek someone else’s take on your life.
There’s a difference between getting feedback for an article and wanting someone to approve of your idea (unless your work for a magazine and you do need approval for your idea if it has to go to print!)
There’s a difference between sharing things with the world to make the world more beautiful and casting junk that no one needs.
With practice, you’ll learn how to stop this need for approval. You’ll get to a new kind of excitement: one that keeps you up and night and wakes you early because you’re doing something you want to share with the world and you know you have to wait for it to be done.
It’s that excitement that you’ll carry with your first 10 podcast episodes before you announce your launch date. It’s the one you’ll use to work on a 30-second intro only one person will notice and comment ( this happened to me). It’s the same excitement that will carry you through your book outline and first draft or your first failed digital product.
It’s not everything you do that the world needs to hear. No. It’s what you know the world needs to hear and you’re willing to do everything for it to be ready to be heard.
As you start small, master your impulsivity, and grow in ‘personal victories’, you’ll build the discipline to keep your mouth shut and do the work. You’ll have more clout because you’ve done what you said you were going to do to yourself. You’ll build enough confidence that when you say you’ll do something, you’ll do it, even if no one is watching.
That’s the ultimate goal: to do the things only you can do when no one is watching.
For a huge chunk of your journey, no one will be watching. And even when they start watching, if you pander to them, you’ll either lose those who came for you or lose yourself as you only make for them.
“Everything in moderation, including moderation” — Oscar Wilde
Before you realize it, you’ll be able to take on 6-month projects, announce your book and simply get back to work while everyone wonders how you did it.
This is what you’ll tell yourself as your smile with the smug you deserve:
“I said I was going to do it, so I did”.