Should You Keep Your Goals to Yourself?

Derek Sivers quotes a study in his Ted Talk: Keep Your Goals to Yourself:

“Everyone wrote down their personal goal. Then half of them announced their commitment to this goal, and half didn’t. Then everyone was given 45 minutes of work that would directly lead them towards their goal, but they were told that they could stop at any time. Now, those who kept their mouths shut worked the entire 45 minutes on average, and when asked afterward, said that they felt that they had a long way to go still to achieve their goal. But those who had announced it quit after only 33 minutes, on average, and when asked afterward, said that they felt much closer to achieving their goal.”

This study shows that by keeping your goal to yourself you’ll increase your work ethic in the short-term.

But what about the long-term?

Personally, I’d qualify Derek Siver’s by saying, “Keep Your Goals to Yourself (sometimes)”.

Some goals I keep private.

I may not want to show too much of my hand. I may not be ready to fully commit, or it maybe too personal, embarrassing, or a surprise.

Some goals I make public.

This gives me a greater sense of accountability since I put a high value on my word. By sharing a goal it may lead to unforeseen relationships with people who have achieved the goal before me or are on the journey alongside me. It may inspire others. And by sharing a goal it may increase my chances of success, especially if that goal requires attention in order to be successful, i.e. making the NYT Best Seller List, building a profitable business, etc.

History shows us that the greatest accomplishments in world history came about from leaders who announced their goal and rallied a nation or team behind it.


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