Should you share your goals or keep them quiet

I recently saw a TED Talk that was presented in 2010 by Derek Sivers, a very successful entrepreneur. He speaks succinctly and gives very specific goal-making advice – Keep your goals to yourself. Here is a link to the talk, in case you’d like to check it out:

Sivers cites research studies in psychology and states that when you share your goals with others, it actually makes you feel less motivated to do the work necessary to achieve those goals. It seems counter-intuitive, because you would think that sharing your goals would give you a motivating sense of accountability. Apparently, the reality is usually the opposite. There are numerous studies showing this to be the case.

Various research studies have concluded that when someone notices your goal, any type of acknowledgment or recognition that happens as a result effectively functions as a reward that may cause you to reduce your efforts. The mind is tricked into feeling that it’s already done with accomplishing the goal, so the goal is somehow transformed into feeling like a reality, instead of a goal. Consequently, your feeling of satisfaction or contentment reduces or completely eliminates your willingness to do the real, hard work necessary to actually achieve the goal.

I did find some research in opposition to what I just described. Research conducted by a team of Ohio State University  found that people tended to be even more committed to their goals after they shared them. The key was who they shared them with. If they shared their goals with someone they saw as having “higher status,” or whose opinions they respected, then sharing the goals was a motivating factor. If respondents shared with people not that important to them, then sharing the goals was ineffective or detrimental to achieving them.

In a press release, the lead author of the study was quoted as saying, “If you don’t care about the opinion of whom you tell, it doesn’t affect your desire to persist — which is really what goal commitment is all about.”

Sharing your goal with people who you want to impress helps make you more motivated because you care what the person thinks of you. You may love your friends, but their kind opinion is not likely to be motivating for very long.

But what about ‘Speaking things into being?

That’s an expression you’ve probably heard. It’s connected to the Law of Attraction, a process was the focus of the bestselling book, The Secret,  which was published in 2006 and has sold over 30 million copies.

According to the Law of Attraction, we are the only ones responsible for both the positive and negative influences that come into our lives, because those things are based on our own thoughts and actions. It is a concept also known as manifestation. Manifestation is the bringing of something tangible into your life through attraction and belief. In other words, if you think it, it will come.

Did you ever see the old Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams”? The most famous quote from that movie is, “If you build it, he will come.”

Costner’s character builds a baseball field in his cornfield, and the world’s most famous baseball players show up to play. (Yes, they’re deceased but that’s another issue).

There are different ways to approach manifestation. To start with, you need to know what it is that you want. After all, you are the only one who truly knows your dreams. Your goals. Think about them. When you have them as clear in your mind as possible, you ask the universe for what you want. You can speak your intentions out loud. You can create a vision board with words and images of what represent your goals and dreams. I have heard of people creating a “future box” – some type of container full of pictures of items representing what they want to manifest. I have also heard of people writing a letter to the universe to put the words on paper and make them real … although obviously they can’t mail the letter because I don’t think the universe even has a P. O. Box.

Knowing with specificity what you want is clearly only part of getting what you want.  You have to look at things as if from the eyes and mind of your future self, and try to act accordingly. The research I’ve done about the Law of Attraction all reiterates that the more you can ‘Be’ the person who already has / does / feels the things you want in your life, the more it helps that reality to come about.

When you tell everyone you know about your goals, it takes a lot of time and energy. You start off usually by stating your goals, then will try to make them understand your goals, end up explaining why you’d like to accomplish those goals, and may end up justifying them.  Unless you’re looking for financial investors, you don’t owe anybody too many explanations for your own goals. The exception to that would be anybody you are in a committed relationship with, and that person probably going to understand and support your goals and dreams.

How to stay quiet about your goals

When you have a goal or dream that means a lot to you, it might be hard to keep it to yourself. Remind yourself that you’re not necessarily keeping it quiet forever, adjust until you make part of it or all of it actually happen. When my husband was still alive, we were very close and I would say we shared about 80% of our goals. I have 3 teenage children with whom I share relationships that enjoy open and honest communication. I only share my broad goals with them because the smaller goals don’t affect their day to day life. Even more importantly, I want them to be focusing on setting and striving for their own goals, not be concerned about mine.

If you find yourself frequently tempted to blurt out what you’d rather keep private, maybe one or all of these techniques would help you get that under control better:

Keep a journal in your handwriting or on your computer

Seeing your goal written down is impactful. Did you ever have to write sentences over and over again in school? Or write information over again on flash cards? Writing things down really helps commit them to memory and helps you internalize them.

My disability has made my handwriting awful. So instead of doing a handwritten version, I create documents on my computer. I find it registers with me just as strongly is if I had used a pen and paper.

Whichever way you prefer to do it, write down those goals in as much detail as possible. The process will make them more real to you, and help keep your mind on a course to make them happen. Remember, these are your personal goals and dreams so you can always amend them, change them, adjust them as your desires may change.

Record voice memos

Most smart phones have a voice memo feature that allows you to voice record notes to yourself. You can play the back to yourself at any time, save them to your data storage, or forward them to your computer. Hearing yourself state your intentions in your own words and in your own voice may provide powerful motivation to ‘make it happen.’

Recite personal affirmations

Another proven way to provide yourself with consistent motivation to keep moving forward in pursuit of your goals is through personal affirmations. These are positive, declarative statements. Daily affirmations put your goals, ideas and thoughts into words. The words are what you will turn into into actions. The actions are what will reach your goals. Here are a few examples of affirmations to manifest your goals and intentions.

  • I make things happen. I will take action. I will accomplish my goals.
  • I make good decisions with confidence
  • I act with courage and conviction.
  • I will only share my goals after I’ve turned them into achievements.
  • I am capable and successful.

What do you think?

While researching information for this post, I learned a lot about the negative consequences of sharing goals too soon, some of which I had never thought about before. Is there anything you find helps you achieve your goals? Anything you’ve noticed really throws you off track? Please reach out and share because I’d love to know!


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