Growing Bolder: Wanting to Want

Telling the world (or telling anyone) about your goal too soon delivers an instant ego boost that can actually derail the process before it even gets started.
04/14/2011 05:00pm ET | Updated November 17, 2011
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Sometimes it seems like every 40-plus woman in America wants to be on "Oprah." Or wants to be Oprah. We hear from them every day. Ambition is a great thing. We encourage it; in fact, we nurture it when and where we can. But most of the Oprah-wannabes have little more than the germ of an idea and no clue how to make it happen.

This country is filled with people waiting for someone else to make their dream come true. They honestly believe that when people hear their idea, they will drop everything they're doing (working on their own ideas) and devote whatever resources are necessary to make them stars.

We have had the pleasure of doing stories on and interviewing some very successful, interesting, intelligent, articulate, provocative women. These are no wannabes. They are the real deal. They have unique and, most importantly, authentic voices. They are not peddling schtick. Their messages resonate. Without exception, they worked very hard to get to the point where their voices were heard and their projects appreciated. One of these women is Barbara Hannah Grufferman. Barbara is the author of a wonderful book, "The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More." (We like it so much we've given it the Growing Bolder Playbook for Life Seal!)

This week, Barbara posted a great piece on The Huffington Post about turning positive thoughts into sustainable action. This is one of my favorite topics because we're in the business of inspiring people to live extraordinary lives, to get off the couch and chase their dreams. Barbara offers "5 Sure-Fire Ways to Turn Positive Thought into Sustainable Action" -- five powerful ways to move from a wannabe to a be.

I agree with all of Barbara's great points, but with a slight variation on the first. She says that when you decide to do something, tell the world. Her reasoning is that publicly proclaiming your intentions holds you accountable. I believe that everyone wants to want, but very few really want. Most who say they want to run a marathon don't really want to because it's too hard and requires too much commitment. Most who say they want to write a book like to fantasize about being a published author, but they're not willing to make the sacrifice that Barbara did to write her wonderful book. They like the fantasy but can't handle the reality.

Getting from wanting to want to truly wanting is the trick. I agree with Barbara that at some point you have to speak your intentions to give them life, but telling the world (or telling anyone) too soon delivers an instant ego boost that can actually derail the process before it even gets started. Those who want to want satisfy their need to feel that they're going to do something important simply by saying they are going to do it and then getting back on the couch.

Admittedly, everyone is different (which is why this is such a fascinating topic), but I find I have the most success when I keep personal goals to myself until I've begun to actively pursue them, have fought through the inevitable first stage of self-doubt and have accepted the realization that it's not going to be easy. Once there, I feel like I've earned the right to tell those close to me. Until then, I'm just one of the many who want to want. When I tell someone I'm going after something important, I want them to believe it. There's real power in that. Who wants to be the boy who cried wolf?

Let's face it, if you can't hold yourself accountable, you're doomed to begin with. I agree with Barbara that the Universe has to know what you're up to -- but scream it silently. In your most personal, most private moments let the Universe know that you are committed to losing 10 pounds, starting a new business, writing a screenplay or helping the needy, and then move forward with power and passion. But don't tell a single soul until you've actually wrestled with the wannabe beast, until you've proven to yourself that you can get past the first of what will ultimately be many roadblocks.

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There's a revolution underway, and it's good news for everybody of every age! It's never too late to achieve your dreams. It's never too late to give back to your community and leave a meaningful legacy. It's not about age; it's about attitude. Join the revolution. Confront ageism, and fight the stereotypes of age. Watch "Growing Bolder" on PBS stations coast to coast and connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.