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Home > Audio, Podcast > Those who talk, but do not do

Those who talk, but do not do

May 16th, 2008

Career Opportunities podcast logoThose who talk, but do not do
By Douglas E. Welch

[audio:http://welchwrite.com/career/audio/2008/career-op-20080516.mp3]

Listen: Those who talk, but do not do

“I want to…” “I need to…” “I would love to…”

We hear these every day from those around us. We might even say it ourselves. Then come the excuses. “I don’t have enough time. I’m too busy. I don’t have the money.” There are a hundred more. While I can easily forgive occasionally slipping into this mode, one of the most frustrating experiences is knowing or working with someone who professes to want or need so much and yet does nothing to achieve any goals. What they are often saying is that they lack the will to do something, not the time.

The truth is, anyone who is complaining about a lack of time to do something is really suffering from a lack of priorities. What they are really saying is, “Someone told me (object X) should be a priority in my life, but I find that other things more important.” Unfortunately, instead of just admitting that fact, they continue to say how much they want or need to accomplish that goal at every possible occasion. They want the best of both worlds. They want credit for “wanting” to do something without the trouble of ever actually doing something about it. They want to appear wise and noble for recognizing the goal, but thwarted by reality, not their own poor planning.

To be honest, everyone, myself included, can fall into this trap. It seems to be a part of human nature. That said, when I realize I am acting this way, or called on the carpet by a friend, I do everything I can to stop. I either take direct action towards the goal, or I let it go and simply stop talking about it. No one…not even myself…wants to hear how I want to accomplish a goal, but refuse to do anything about it, over and over again. It sets up a cycle of pity and despair that only spirals lower over time.

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What I find intolerable in myself, I also find intolerable in others. Someone who is constantly mired in “talk, but not do” will quickly find our friendship waning. In my own personal case, I will either ignore the problem, as other aspects of the friendship are good, or I simply stop spending time with the person.

Call it a pet peeve, but I am horribly biased towards those who take action over those who simply talk. Perhaps it is because I have lived in LA for so many years, where talk is truly cheap and millions of projects never come to fruition. I see so much talent wasted here, everyday, that anyone who takes even the smallest action towards achieving their goals, I see as a hero.

How do you put action behind your words, wishes and wants? Simply find one concrete action you can take. When you hear yourself say, “I need to lose weight”, take a few minutes to research dieting options, go for a walk or put back that second donut. Immediate action almost guarantees future action.

Immediate action almost guarantees future action.

I first learned this lesson in college. Faced with large projects like papers or presentations, I would take some concrete action on the day that it was assigned. This could take the form of a few jotted notes, requesting a book from the library or discussing the project with my professor. To be clear, I might not take further action for a week or more, but this first immediate action made it much easier to face the next step. I didn’t have to get over the inertia of starting, I only had to continue.

Taking action on a goal shows a certain level of commitment. Not only will it energize you, it will elicit the support of those around you. People are much more willing to help people who are taking action already. On the other hand, if you only talk about your goals and constantly bemoan your inability to achieve them, people will quickly come to understand that you have no commitment to your goals, only lip service. You want to “have achieved” your goals, without any of the work. Take action…and take it often. Otherwise you risk damaging your friendships and your career.


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