Why I announce many of my plans.
Some people love to withhold information, others overshare. I’ve had people tell me that they needed a candy bar because their sugar was plummeting while they left out that they were allergic to peanuts. This is one of the most important things to communicate when you are asking someone else to pick out a candy bar for you to consume.
If you are sharing a medical condition of diabetes, and request help with treatment via candy bar, it is on you to let the person know if there are any additional life-threatening aspects to consider.
Similarly, I’ve been in line at the grocery store and had people just randomly open up about being diabetic and then detail their dietary habits against my will.
What makes some of us so comfortable with broadcasting our personal lives while others will hide things, and what makes people choose which item goes into what category?
Our Desire for Status
As a social species, virtually every decision we make is with regard to how we feel it will affect our social standing with our desired groups. This motivates us to share things that make us seem more impressive while omitting things that could cost us these social points.
Some people will brag about having never done certain activities. Have you not heard men brag about not even knowing how to do a dish? Why? Because in the world they set up in their minds, doing dishes is beneath them. Having ever done a dish, even once, was a sign of weakness.
So, these men would boast about what is now seen as nothing but pathetic. You don’t want to do dishes that you had no problem using? You expect someone else to just clean and pick up after you?
We have a tendency to only broadcast what we feel will elevate our status and even this will be limited based on how we have observed others reacting to someone else spilling the tea on their goals.
Our Desire for Connection
One of our most important needs is the need to belong with our social group. This is an evolutionary hang-up from our days where fitting in connected 100% with being able to survive. For extremely average people, this is easy. There is no effort necessary to fit into the mold if you are a perfect product of it.
This is where our special interests and dreams come into play. The more grand the dream or idea, the more weight behind it, the more open to ridicule it can become.
It isn’t uncommon for lower-class children to be bullied out of college dreams by the adults in their families. Similarly, people from rural families will be ridiculed for wanting to take a job in the city just because of the opportunities for advancement. These younger generations who are striving for more can be treated as “too uppity” for the family.
That’s certainly what happened when I announced that I was leaving the cornfield to work as a nuclear scientist in the Navy. (“Nuc-you-lur power? Oh, smell you!”) It happened again when I decided to work in law (“Even a power plant is beneath you, eh?”). Again when I became a writer and actor while I was living in Nashville, TN (“Anything to avoid a real job, huh?”).
I had a couple of family members excited for my opportunities, but the majority treated me like I was scum for not wanting to be trash. I aspired to own a home, have all of my bills paid, and have money left over. What a horrible child I grew up to become.
Of course, the people who were too good to associate with my high-falutin’ ass weren’t too good to reach out to me for bail money when they got arrested. My cash wasn’t too dirty if they wanted some. My career in law also wasn’t so uppity whenever someone wanted to speak with me about alcohol-related domestic troubles.
Many people wish to have a harmonious relationship with their families. Depending on your situation, living in your truth could cause an uproar to the status quo. It isn’t uncommon for people to keep plans to themselves until the last minute for the sake of harmony.
But, Which Is Better for Our Goals?
Good news — that depends 100% on you.
Many people say that you shouldn’t reveal your goals; keep those cards close to your chest. Others swear by sharing the goals because it makes them feel compelled to make the goals come to fruition. Each of these concepts can be completely true. It may work out better for one person to keep their plans to themselves, while for another, sharing the plans helps them out.
What Is the Goal, and What Is the Goal of Sharing the Goal?
We all have reasons for wanting to keep things to ourselves and what to share. We’re often seeking external validation when we talk about our goals. Depending on the situation, this can actually be wonderful.
Something most successes will share is how grateful they are for the invaluable help of their families or closest friends during the early years. Those who didn’t have family or friends will discuss a mentor changing their lives. Someone was a catalyst.
The Navy randomly introduced science into my life. Similarly, the Navy is what changed my career to law. It was the Commanding Officer of my Judge Advocate General Corps who was the catalyst that drove me towards writing. But, the writing never would have happened if not for — surprise, surprise — language teachers of my youth. No matter which path I took, it always pointed me back to writing.
From the moment I accepted my identity as a writer, I publicized everything. Why? Because I had writer friends who did similar. I watched these writer friends go from aspiring writers to published writers who tour conventions.
Something these writer friends and I had in common was not a whole lot of support from home. Thus, all of our support came from external sources. Mainly, each other.
When you announce that you are a writer, you are always asked about whatever book you are working on, even if you don’t write books. These writer friends knew that they were being watched. They decided to use broadcasting as a system to keep themselves honest. When several writers are friends with one another, we form an accountability circle. We become invested in each others’ successes.
Over the years, nothing makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something more than when other writers say “Because of you, I ____________.” I’ve had people decide to name names in memoirs because I called out my family in public storytelling events (some are on YouTube). I’ve had friends submit to magazines (in one case, start a magazine) because I was selling articles. There are poets who have written in response to a piece of mine that moved them.
That’s right — some poetry exists because of poetry I’ve shared. That idea is very surreal to me.
So, I broadcast for two primary reasons.
Marketing and Research
I share plans to solicit feedback. I have non-reader friends, who ultimately influence nothing because why would I change my writing for people who don’t even read?
I have reader friends who are well versed in the latest publications and media. I like to get feedback from these friends as they are similar to my market. What these people like, I know my target customers would also like. And, vice versa.
I have writer friends who are the bulk of my support group. No matter what I consider doing, these are the people who are most likely to go “You’ve got this, Neth!”
I also have writer friends who are struggling. They are among the published, but at a part of their journey where they are running on fumes. These friends need to see friends hitting checkpoints because it reminds them that these checkpoints can be hit.
Flying My Freak Flag
I’ve always been different. I’ve never had much luck trying to do what works for other people. I’ve always had to approach things from a different angle. I even have a book releasing on just this subject, later in the year.
There were no local role models for me. There aren’t a slew of writers and painters and actors here. Even traditional professionals fall into the trap of thinking they are better at their services than they are simply because the locals don’t know enough to know how bad the professionals are at their jobs. That’s how we wind up with doctors who have multiple malpractice cases for depressing mistakes against them running important offices and county hospitals (such as a doctor who caused brain damage to a fetus by not sterilizing a needle when performing amniocentesis).
I announce what I do because I know there are people who wish they could. I know people read my posts and want to do the things I do. I’m public with my moves because I want to encourage others to have the courage to take the action steps.
Want to write a piece? Write it! Want to give theater a chance? Go to an audition, or volunteer to work backstage. One minute I was a stage manager, then I was acting in Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical. Curious about painting? Go buy a cheapo paint kit and take it for a spin. It’s fun!
Just as I write about my personal experiences in the hopes that others can benefit from the lessons I’ve learned, I share my decisions in the hopes that others will choose to live their best lives. If this post motivates one person to take an action they wouldn’t have otherwise taken, it was worth the time I spent putting it out there.
Know Your Situation
You should pick whatever is best for your situation. Just try to make decisions that push you closer to your goals rather than create more distance. If you work better without others knowing your moves, or if someone else knowing your goals puts you in a place that compromises your safety, you should not feel guilty for keeping them to yourself. If your family is one of ridicule, it is fine to keep things close to your chest.
I used to call my folks every time something great happened. Unfortunately, my professional accomplishments aren’t impressive to them. Accepted into a top military program (nuclear energy) — no big deal. I graduated college magna cum laude — I wasted money on an unimportant education. After winning volunteer of the year, the Mid TN Paralegal Association asked me to serve as the chair for the Board of Community Services — I was stupid for taking a position that doesn’t pay anything.
I get it — your closest loved ones may not be your biggest cheerleaders. You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself for that. It wasn’t my fault that my dreams and goals were too big for my loved ones to appreciate the progress I made towards them. I just had to choose to distance myself from those who found my goals to be ridiculous and find people who knew that my goals were aspirational.
My MTPA peers held a huge party to celebrate my accomplishments in Law, just as my writer/actor/artist friends have been the most supportive of my creative endeavors. That’s another thing that motivates me to broadcast. I have friends and family watching my social media feed and cursing my every success. I want them to see other people supporting me. I want them to see [John Doe, Author] compliment my work or [Local City Council] thank me for my work on an Artist Reception that I hosted.
Find an online group. Find your online tribe. Broadcast to them. You’d be surprised how much further you can go when people are blowing wind into your sails instead of serving as an anchor to hold you back.
Many thanks, and Best Blessings,
Related Journaling Prompts: What are my goals? What are the benefits of sharing them versus keeping them to myself? Should I consider finding an online group I can discuss my plans with so that my personal friends don’t know?