Is It Better To Keep Your Goals To Yourself?
Some studies say yes, but others say you should probably keep it a secret. People think having a shared goal will help and push you forward.
Here is some very useful advice to better keep your goals to yourself:
Fantasy has risks
Another study found that daydreaming about the future may make it harder to predict possible problems and prepare for the unexpected. Don’t think about success or hope for it. This study shows that, instead of dreaming, it can be very helpful to predict what will happen.
When we dream, we don’t know what’s real or what we’ve seen. If someone knows what to expect, they are confident in what they do. It is a very important point that needs to be thought about. Visualizing things in a positive way is helpful, but don’t be afraid of scary thoughts that aren’t real.
Keep your goal secret
At least for a short while. It may surprise you, but setting goals is best done by yourself. And telling your friends, coworkers, and mom right away isn’t a great idea to get the things you want to happen.
Studies show that sharing goals too soon or on a whim can make it less likely that we’ll reach them. Just telling other people about your plans makes you feel like you’ve done something; it tricks your brain into thinking you’ve done something.
We unconsciously believe that we’ve made progress toward that goal, even though we know that’s not true. It makes us feel like we’re working harder than we are, which makes us less likely to start the real work and take more steps toward our goal. This false sense of effort reduces our drive to do the real task and our chances of accomplishing the objective. Cultivate it so you can absorb constructive criticism, make adjustments, listen to meaningful information, and decisively shut off naysayers when the time comes.
Secrets eliminate critics
It can also be bad to tell people how to reach their goals. Negative people might try to keep you from achieving your goals. The Secrecy Principle says that they can take away the energy you need to reach your goal and make it harder for people to control them. Most people want to keep you from getting what you want. They hate seeing people who are better than them and punish those who try to be average in almost any way possible. And that’s exactly what kind of people they are.
Premature praise reduces the likelihood of success
Peter Gollwitzer of NYU has done some of the most well-known work on goal sharing and motivation. In 2009, Gollwitzer and his colleagues found that alerting others about your aim might reduce your inspiration. Gollwitzer and his team concluded this was because stating objectives gives individuals a premature sense of completion.
In one study, law students were asked to complete a survey about how committed they were to getting the most out of their education. The people whose answers showed a strong desire to become lawyers were put into two groups.
For the first group, an experimenter looked at each participant’s questionnaire and asked them to confirm that the answer they circled was the one they meant.
On the other hand, the second group put their questionnaires in a box and knew their responses would be kept secret.
Then, each group had 45 minutes to work on their legal cases. The first group, whose answers were recognized, worked on the possibilities for less time than the second group, whose answers were secret.
Researchers concluded that if someone notices your identity goal, that’s a reward that might make you stop trying as hard. So, in this case, the experimenter’s acknowledgment of the student’s answers gave them the idea that they were already lawyers, even though they hadn’t yet graduated from law school.
So, if your goal is very important to who you are, you may want to keep it to yourself. This way, praise that comes too soon won’t make you think you’ve already reached your goals and that’s the good stuff.
It isn’t true only when working with someone else to reach a goal. If you require a 5K trainer, you’ll need to talk to that individual. But you can still hide it from other people.
In this study, psychologists listed a few other things that might make it more effective to share your goals:
Think about what’s important about the people you’re sharing it with. Give them specifics, like goals or a schedule, that they can use to hold you accountable.
Give a detailed plan of action and backup plans for things that don’t go as planned (if X happens, I will do Y)
Use the form of this great post “I will practice interview answers to help me get my dream job” instead of “I plan to practice interview answers because that’s what successful job seekers do.”
Sharing your goals with only your most positive supporters might be an exception to the rule. One way to be clear and focused on this is to form an accountability group.
Michael Hyatt says this probably works well for people, but it will not work for those who launch their own business and might not be the best advice for businesses. Keeping things secret seems like a bad idea if a leader’s job is to set a vision and get people to work toward certain goals. On the other hand, he says that the theory might work if your team kept its goals secret from everyone but itself.
Once again, you will have the most success if you confide in those who can truly help you achieve your goals. If you make a broad proclamation about your plans, you open yourself up to criticism and risk disclosing a private element of your life carelessly.
Get up and going, but don’t make a sound at first. Avoid sharing your plans and ambitions as much as possible. Discover a goal and a reason for living that you would pursue even if no one knew about it. Share your goals when you’ve made some actual progress.
That way, you can do what you want without worrying about other people’s thoughts—only your approval matters.