Committing a plan or a value to spoken word or written word is a powerful act, and it always has consequences.
Even if you have an idea you haven’t acted upon yet – say, a vacation to Puerto Rico – just putting that idea out of your mind and into a communicable form changes your relationship to the idea.
Now that idea of a vacation to Puerto Rico is standing out for people to see. Now the world (and your own conscience) are watching to see if you’ll follow through.
I came across this general thought in a recent Twitter thread from meaningwave DJ Akira the Don:
You can hack the human tendency towards maintaining a consistent self image for your gain by making public statements:— 🌊👑 AKIRA THE DON 🌊👑 (@akirathedon) August 12, 2019
I am healthy
I eat clean
I work out
I am positive and optimistic
I don’t get in arguments online
Saying this in public will force you to live up to it
Once I say that I am going to do something, I feel a great deal more pressure to actually do it. This is true whether I am talking to other people or even if I am talking to myself.
If I say I am going to go to the gym, or to work, or to Puerto Rico, I’ve created the right incentives for actually going: if I do go, I get the credit of being more trustworthy for having kept my word, and if I don’t go, I suffer the consequences of not keeping my word – namely, that people don’t take me seriously when I speak, or when I plan.
I certainly can’t say anything or write anything without consequence. “Idle talk” is a myth, because even idle talk has active psychological and relational consequences.
So I have two choices: letting my word become my destiny or letting my word become my judge. I’d rather pick the former, and I’d rather devote the giving of my word to committing (as Akira does in the tweet above) to the important, good, but difficult things I need to do. But otherwise, I must remember to be very careful about what I say I am going to do.