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YouTuber Satchbag’s Goods recently posted a video entitled, “Can We Be Too Inspired?

In the video, he talks about self-hype, and how we build an “idea debt”. The concept of idea debt essentially plays out like this:

  • You come up with a brilliant idea for something you want to do. Write a book, become a world-famous actor, open a bakery, start a video game review channel.
  • You begin telling people about what you’re going to do.
  • You get so excited about telling everyone about your idea, that you feel a false sense of accomplishment.
  • You never actually accomplish your idea, and instead, you give up, getting distracted by other parts of life.
  • The “idea debt” of actually accomplishing your idea haunts you.
  • You live unfulfilled and frustrated.

It turns out that telling people about your ideas before you accomplish them can actually shortchange your progress. In his 2010 TED Talk, “Keep your goals to yourself“, Derek Sivers argues that we shouldn’t try to get others excited about our goals until we’ve accomplished them (or come close to doing so). “After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone, but Derek Sivers says it’s better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.”

We all have a “perfect idea” for how we want our life to go. Chasing perfection is one of the most dangerous traps in our society, and our ideas are the breeding ground for the perfection mentality. It’s easy to hold ourselves to a perfect standard that we dream about, but never try to live out. So what should we do?

  • Work on our goals instead of talking about them. Don’t tell all your friends you’re going to start a band. Start a band, work hard, and invite your friends to a gig.
  • Set a plan and stick to it. Be realistic about your “idea debt”. If you have an idea you believe is a good idea, set a goal. Will you accomplish it? In what timeframe? One year? Five years? Work backward. What would have to be true for you to accomplish that goal? How can you make it true?

Don’t just talk about it. Don’t let the Idea Debt fester. Make it happen.

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