Tell me if you’ve observed this pattern in yourself: you get really excited about different projects, take on a bunch of them, announce these plans to anyone who will listen (because you’re just so excited!)
And then a flip switches.
You step back and look around, and it hits: panic, overwhelm, the sense that everyone is relying on you. Suddenly the projects you were so excited about, feel heavy– like burdens, commitments, “shoulds.” Being overwhelmed by the good stuff is a sad sad feeling.
Like most multipotentialites, my enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of me and I have a tendency to overbook myself and then tell the world about it. I’ve gotten better at this in recent years, but it still happens.
Even the “Pros” Do It
When you’re running a community and announcing your plans publicly, it gets even trickier. I know you guys understand that as a multipotentialite, I’m going to be starting and dropping (and re-starting) various projects. Barbara Sher does the same thing. She did a podcast for a while, dropped that, sends a lot of email newsletters during a period of a few weeks, stops for a while and then six months later, gets back to it, and so on.
Even my friend and mentor, Michelle Ward struggles with overbooking and overwhelm. Watching this video was a great reminder for me (thank you for making it, Michelle) that even the “professional” multipotentialites are still figuring this stuff out.
Should You Announce Your Goals at All?
Derek Sivers makes a very compelling argument that you should not tell people your goals. Basically, the act of sharing gives you a sense of validation which then makes it less likely for you to actually take action.
I agree with this hypothesis. However, I think there needs to be major caveat here: it depends on what your motivation is behind announcing your goals.
Are you announcing your goals to someone who will pat you on the back and send you on your way? Will this be enough for you? Will it make you feel good about yourself?
Or are you announcing your goals to someone who will hold you accountable and say “that’s great, what are you going to do about it?” If you’re experiencing overwhelm after sharing, then there’s a good chance that it’s accountability, not validation that you’ve sought out.
Take the Overwhelm as a Sign that You’re Someone who Follows Through
If you’re someone who isn’t accustom to turning their ideas into action, then yeah, you might get a sense of validation from sharing your big ideas. But once you become a Doer, Derek’s thesis doesn’t really hold up.
If you know that you have the personal power to see your visions come to fruition, then it’s just a matter of choosing which ideas to make happen.
If you’re a Doer, you won’t feel validated by premature approval. That kind of approval is no longer good enough. You may feel panicked however– “accountable.”
Accountability is a great thing. It pushes us to deliver. But what happens if the timing is off? What if you don’t have the time to make it happen right now. How do you handle this?
One Option: Announce, but with a Caveat
Not talking about your goals is hard. Too hard for me (and I’m not ashamed to say that). I think it’s natural that when you’re excited about a project, you want to share that feeling with anyone who will listen. It’s like being in love.
One option is to announce your plans with a caveat like, “this is one idea that I’ve been considering.” That sometimes helps reduce the pressure.
Then again, you could just announce your plans and expect people to understand that you’re a multipotentialite and hence, may later change directions. You could explain it nicely and most people will understand.
Some people will always consider you a flake just because they don’t understand scanners. Don’t worry about pleasing that crowd. Just do the work you want to do.
But when it comes down to it, people are far more absorbed with their own lives and goals and aren’t paying as much attention to your follow-through as you think they are.
What I’ve been Going Through Lately
I write about a lot of plans and personal revelations in the emails I send out to the Puttytribe. In the last three weeks, I’ve written about my plans to start up a Puttylike discussion board and make some multipotentialite-friendly art and inspirational prints. It’s funny. I was so excited about these projects when I wrote the emails (I still am). But as soon I started getting feedback saying “YES! DO IT!” the overwhelm hit. Suddenly, I realized just how many projects I was taking on at once. How would I get all of this done now.
I decided that I may have to wait a bit to put these plans into motion. I still have every intention of making them happen, but when paired up against other work, like finally finishing my television pilot, completing a website I’m designing, truly being in the moment and enjoying the travel experience as I make my way down the West Coast (eee!) and being the best coach I can be to my students, these new plans don’t really hold up. Not right now anyway.
The posters and discussion board will happen eventually, just like the public speaking, group coaching and multiple books I want to write on topics like art, writing + self-publishing, bullying, failure, etc. There’s plenty of time, and we often forget that.
Remember that Not Every Project Must Happen Right Now
As Chris Guillebeau says, “we tend to overestimate what we can complete in a single day, and underestimate what we can complete over longer periods of time.”
You can take on a lot of projects. You can even announce them publicly (though know that it may induce feelings of overwhelm), and then you can shelve them away and get back to them a few months down the road. If these projects are really important to you, they’ll still be there when a free slot opens up.
And if these same projects no longer interest you when you have time for them, then that’s okay too. Let them go.
What projects have you shelved away for later? Do you announce your goals publicly?