Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

The challenge: Don't speak in future tense

When I lived in Los Angeles, I noticed they have a strange speaking pattern.

Everyone speaks in future tense. (Or, more specifically, present-tense inaction, future-tense action.)

“This guy from EMI is interested and going to be presenting it to the VP.”

“We’re in talks to do a pilot for the fall.”

“I’m getting ready to work on some new material with a writer from Friends.”

Of course these are the things some people have to tell themselves to be hopeful when facing another day of challenges.

But of course nothing materializes. You never hear it mentioned again, and you politely don’t ask. (Surprising circumstances always foiled the certain event.)

I felt like wearing a t-shirt that says, “TELL ME WHEN IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING.”

So now when I hear a future-tense sentence, my ears shut down. I’ll say “cool!” and hope it helps, but I don’t believe a word.

Try noticing this in yourself and others for a week. Are you speaking more in future tense or present tense? Are they?

Remember that announcing your plans makes them less likely to happen.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zilindreen/33215957/