Commit publicly

Here’s a good way to overcome the resistance and execute on the big ideas that terrify you: tell others about your grandiose plans.

You can decide how “public” you want your “public” announcements to be – if you want to go big, you can tell thousands of your loyal readers; or you can just talk to the people you’d dream of collaborating with, your colleagues, your spouse, maybe your boss.

Saying it over and over again has two effects: it makes the big idea more real to you; and you can replace your fear of getting started with how silly you’ll feel having talked about something to people you care about and having not followed through.

(The catch, of course, is that then you have to execute, otherwise you’re just a big talker.  But I know – and you know – that you can execute.  What’s holding you back is the fear of starting.)

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7 Responses to Commit publicly

  1. Abraham Simons says:

    Absolutely right!
    Most of us do not venture out is due to the fear of “Failure”

    Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill

  2. Sasha,

    From my own experience, I feel that publicly committing may have helped me to get started, but it didn’t do much to get me to follow through over the long run. Talking about things that I am going to do (but never actually do) is a bad habit of mine. I have been a “big talker” for many years. For my new blog (Experimental Living), I’ve decided instead to talk about what I have done rather than what I plan to do.

    In any case, I realize that everyone is different, and publicly committing might be more effective for others than it was for me.

  3. Vinay says:

    Sasha – An idea that I think could develop the second ‘effect’ that you mention is available on http://www.stickk.com/ . Do you know it?

    If not, it’s part of the growing behavioural economics / Thaler & Sunstein ‘movement’. The concept is that you create a “commitment contract” on the site, whereby failure to regularly meet your commitment results in you paying out some money. The twist is that the payment goes to an “anti-charity” that would personally really pain you – a rival sports team or the NRA (if you’re very anti- gun control), etc. (The rival football team works for me, by the way!)

    I think it’s a great idea and can be broadcast to the level you want (you do need at least one ‘referee’). So you could inform just your spouse/friend or broadcast it on Facebook/twitter/etc.

    Just a thought for your readers thinking of taking the plunge!

  4. Committing publicly to an idea is definitely a great way to push back on the lizard brain, or resistance. Unfortunately publicly committing to something is also a great way to get what Merlin Mann defines as “Expectational Debt,” which is a huge hindrance to actually getting good work done.

    It seems to me that either publicly stating what you’re doing or holding off on announcing anything until the last minute are both options that a person or business has to make on their own, depending on their current situation.

    P.S. If you’re interested in hearing more about the idea of expectational debt, listen to this podcast by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.

  5. Brajesh Mishra says:

    Completely agree with the concept of declaring publicly. I am using it to force my self to train this year and run my first full marathon next January.

    Blogging and Facebook have made it easy to commit publicly (and to your tribe) and you get words of encouragement from across the globe. I am using blogspot and facebook to keep friends updated on my progress – http://brajeshfullmarathon.blogspot.com/ – and making sure that I stick to my training schedule. So far, I have done a better job than what I would have done without a public commitment.

    I also hope to raise some serious money for charity as the date of my run gets closer

  6. Vinay says:

    *oops, typo in my comment. The idea is to go to an “anti-charity” i.e. you end up donating to the NRA if you are pro- gun control. Cheers.

  7. This is perhaps the second thing I do once I understand that there is a need for me to act. I have started several organizations this way (1) research market (2) tell everyone I am going to do it (3) work it out from there.

    For me, this is a course that not only provides a motivating factor… but also provides a real check of the market. If I hear “uh… Bob is already doing that” or “WOW.. that is brilliant”, I can act on that in a way that my own research cannot catalyze.

    R

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