Goals And A Field Of Potatoes

Why you should keep your personal goals known only to an inner circle

Anand Soni
The pursuit of purpose
5 min readOct 19, 2021


Let’s talk about goals. A goal is something that you want to achieve in life and for which you not only have a desire but also a plan. It is something you are acting on. As children, we all had some dreams and as we grew up, some of those dreams became goals.

It’s hard to choose a direction in life without knowing what we really want. To do that, we try, experiment and learn about ourselves, our capabilities and inclinations and then — at some point — a rhythm sets in, and it helps us go in one particular direction.

Sometimes, a single event or a series of powerful events change the trajectory in which life is headed. It is usually during such times that a dream potentially becomes a goal.

Different people have different strategies for achieving their goals. This is something that widely varies and is decided individually. Apart from smart work, a lot of preparation and diligence, sometimes (and for some goals), having a social strategy becomes vital.

It may help to have your intentions publicly and widely known so that you can get more guidance and more resources. But, some goals are best kept to oneself and should be subjected to wider knowledge only at an appropriate time.

Let me tell you something that might just change the way you approach your own goals. For good.

I was born and raised in India. Their is a popular idiom in the Hindi language — Aaloo ki kheti which means (literally) potato harvest or a field of potatoes (Aaloo is Potato). What the idiom really means is this — to be a lot more inside than what shows up outside. Exactly like a potato plant. Potato grows under the ground as a starchy root and is not visible until harvested. The Oriental philosophers (who were wise enough to make such an observation) drew an idiom out of it.

So, in the Hindi vernacular, a person who doesn’t show his emotions (despite probably being full of them); a person who keeps his dearest goals to himself and doesn’t let a cue out to the world; a person who is wiser and more accomplished than lets on; a person who talks less and achieves more — a person whose actions are louder than words is often called Aaloo ki kheti.

When we have a goal in mind — especially a goal that potentially defines us, a goal that, philosophically, defines our what and why — it must be approached in a way that helps us keep our energy and excitement high for the maximum time of our journey towards its attainment.

Over time (and with some personal experience), I have come to believe that whenever we are after a goal, we should keep social distractions to the minimum. And I will tell you why.

First, when we announce a personal goal to the society, not only are we excited because of the natural hormonal flow but, the excitement is further boosted by expectations and praises from the society, from friends, near and dear ones. This level of excitement is often not matched by what follows next — the actual work that needs to be done — the tedious work. Fantasising is easy, putting in actual work is not.

Second, when a goal is announced, what do people (everyone else) do? They talk. And when they talk they don’t just shower praises on you. There always are naysayers no matter what you do and no matter where you do it. If naysayers affect you, its best to avoid them by not telling them a thing.

Third, we tend to lose focus when we are being observed (even if it is just in our minds). Have you ever had to experience a stalker examiner? Let me explain. Imagine sitting in an exam hall, writing answers. Now imagine the examiner coming up to you and staring blankly at every word you write. What will happen? Most of us will lose focus and will have to ask them to leave. In life, we can’t always ask people to leave and hence sometimes, it is best that they are not invited.

Fourth, a fear of failure creeps into our spine when we know that people will know! When mistakes are overt, public and visible, the thoughts of ridicule overtake the will to keep going. Even when such thoughts are unwarranted, they affect us. They make us afraid of failing. And one must never fear failures.

Any strategy to goal achievement must identify the factors that are manipulable from the outside and can potentially cause adverse effects on the overall possibility of actually achieving the goal.

And hence, failing like an ant (hardly anyone observes, but the work continues) and succeeding like a roaring lion (hardly anyone misses and the work is done) is a strategy worth giving a try and a virtue worth trying to develop.

But, for doing anything worthwhile in life, we need support. We can’t do it all alone. We need partners in failure as well as in success. And that’s why whatever goal we have in mind, we must have a minimal set of people (our circle) that we can trust completely and that we know will always support us in our best as well as the worst of times.


This circle can be as small as we are comfortable with. It can consist of parents or one or more true friends or spouse or siblings. The idea is — this circle will always support us, will always clap the loudest in our success, will always hold us in failures. Since the circle will always want to see us win, it becomes the only exception to this social strategy. Adopting such a strategy is not walking alone but taking only the most trustworthy with us on our journey. It’s like being Leonidas from 300 (except his eventual failure)!