Keeping Quiet – The Secret to Achieving Your Goals?

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Posted October 23, 2013 by Kristen J. Zavo in On the Ladder
Conventional wisdom suggests that when you set a new goal, it makes sense to tell people in order to hold yourself accountable. Say you want to run a 5K. If you tell your friends, and maybe even join a team, one would think you’d be more likely to succeed. If you were to slack off on your training, your friends or team would remind you why you set that goal in the first place, and motivate you got back on track. Plus, you wouldn’t want the embarrassment of failing, right?

However, some argue though that announcing your ambitions to the world might be the very thing holding you back. In the short 3-minute clip below, Derek Sivers explains why telling others your goal might actually make you less likely to achieve it.

He argues that when you share your intentions with people, you generally get social acknowledgement (Congratulations! Woo-hoo – Good for you!), and that the warm and fuzzy feeling you experience as a result, registers in your brain as action – thereby removing the incentive to actually take the necessary steps towards your goal.

When you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it…the mind is kind of tricked into feeling that it’s already done. And then, because you felt the satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual work necessary.

As a believer in the Law of Attraction, I find this idea interesting – but I’m not sold. For anyone not familiar, a basic premise of the law is that in order to achieve (or receive) something, you need to feel it first, as though you’ve already succeeded.

For example, we’ve all heard about how many athletes imagine winning the race and the feeling of crossing the finish line before a big event, and what a difference it makes. This shows us just how powerful the mind is in achieving our goals, in addition to hard work.

So if sharing your goals and dreams allows you to experience related positive feelings (not to mention provide accountability, motivation and community), then couldn’t it actually help you?

When thinking about whether to keep mum or shout your goals from the rooftops, maybe the key is to strike a balance between both extremes. Think carefully about who you share what goals with, and be clear about how you’d like them to support you, if at all.

Your turn – what do you think? What has your experience been? Does sharing your goals help or hinder your progress towards achieving them?


About the Author

Kristen J. Zavo

Kristen J. Zavo is a finance and strategy professional, with a special interest in the retail industry. Having always been interested in the people side of business, Kristen loves to explore, reflect on, and share stories about the challenges and adventures of being a businesswoman. No topic is off limits - whether it's how to handle being the only woman in the boardroom, or figuring out how to to pack all the "essentials" for a 2-week business trip in just a carry-on! Outside of work, she loves exploring new places, spending time at the beach and meeting friends to workout (spin or yoga, anyone?!).

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