The Cost of Leading an “All-Talk, No-Action” Kind of Life

Where do you fall on the Life Bullshitometer?

The Life Bullshitometer

Is there a dream or plan or notion you find yourself talking about … fairly often … and then promptly doing absolutely nothing about?

You’re not alone.

Here’s an assortment of examples:

  • “I’m going to go back to school to finish my degree someday.”
  • “I’m going to run a marathon. And then a triathlon!”
  • “I’m going to start my ferret grooming business for sure one day.”
  • “I’m going to spend time in Asia teaching ESL.”
  • “I’m going to re-do my website once and for all.”
  • “I’m going to start meditating in the mornings.”
  • “I’m going to start looking for a new job.”
  • “I’m going to put together a little garage band with the guys in the neighborhood who also miss playing music.”
  • “I’m going to go on a road trip where I visit all the places I’ve lived.”
  • Etc. etc.

Pursuing dreams takes effort, and we tend to prefer the path of least resistance. It’s so much easier to do diddly squat, right? At the end of a long week, we don’t always have the energy to work on the website or the business plan or bike for miles in the rain.

Going after goals can be scary, and summoning up the courage to play the drums in front of other humans might feel out of range. Looking for a new job requires a good bit of bravery. Going back to school might involve rejection and failure. It’s tempting to defer a dream when fear’s tentacles are wrapped tightly around our necks.

Dreams and goals are delicious and important; let’s never stop conjuring them. But as we’ve discussed before here, we sometimes fall into the trap of feeling just good enough when we talk about our dreams … just good enough to take zilcho action. Sometimes the dreaming feels adequately satisfying and then all of a sudden four months have gone by and we haven’t moved any closer to starting Fanny’s Fancy Ferrets.

Sometimes we need to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves where we need to come clean. (Talking to yourself on FaceTime can also work, even though it’s a startlingly unflattering experience. Am I the only one who’s horrified by her appearance on FaceTime?) Where have you maybe been talking about a dream, for a while, but not letting it come to life?

The Husband and I talked for years about finding a place to escape the Chicago winter. We were tired of the cold and then we were tired of talking about being tired of the cold. I realized I was being a hypocrite, talking all about Living Like We Mean It but then doing jack shit about it myself. We snapped to attention, then dove into the deep end of the pool (literally and figuratively, ha!) by moving to Palm Springs a couple of years ago. We’re so darned happy and proud we took the leap.

I talked for a while about writing a book, and as I told you here before, my friend Kevin finally said to me over drinks one night, “I don’t think you want it badly enough.” (*Gulp*) I was living an all talk, no action life. BUSTED. I’m so darned happy and proud I waded through the fear.

There is a cost to saying, “I’m going to …” and then never doing it.

What’s the cost? We break integrity with ourselves.

When we want something and don’t do the thing, we train ourselves to believe that our dreams and goals are not only optional (I suppose all self-imposed goals are optional) but also waffly. Unlikely. Dubious. We start to believe that we’re the type of person whose dreams don’t really come true. We start to see ourselves as the kind of person who’s unwilling to work towards things we’ve declared matter. We learn to see ourselves as wannabees. We might even, in our quieter moments (with a drink in hand), think we’re full of shit. We start to languish. And then we become the living dead … walking around with dead dreams fermenting in a body that has a pulse but a beaten-up soul. (Oh! That took a dark turn there, didn’t it?!)

I dramatize, sure. Living an “all talk, no action” kind of life never killed anyone. But we get just 4,000 Mondays and many of us have burned through a bunch of them already. Aren’t we worth it? Don’t we want to arrive at our graves with satisfaction of actually experiencing the experiences we longed for? With the pride of knowing we carried through on our plans? With the knowledge that we maybe set an example for our kids of what it looks like to DREAM AND DO (vs. dream and dick around)? That we gave two shits?

Fancy FerretI’ve been reading Henry David Thoreau’s journals lately, so his classic line is on my mind: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the live you’ve imagined.”

It takes effort and courage to live like we’ve imagined, sure, but we’ve done hard things before and we know we can do hard things again. Let’s talk a big game AND live a big game. Should we all go in together and start that Ferret empire?

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: I have a great idea about how to take action! Why not order my book, You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End with No Regrets?

P.P.S.: Let’s do Instagram together.

P.P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!


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