Should You Share Your Goals Or Keep Them to Yourself?

January 3, 2017

Should You Share Your Goals Or Keep Them to Yourself?

Confession: this post was going to take an entirely different direction. Rather than the title you see above, it was initially titled, “Why Sharing Your Goals Will Help You Meet Them.”

As we transition into another year, our thoughts turn to the fresh start and new beginning that each new year seems to offer. In a previous post, I explored why it’s goal-setting and not making resolutions that will help you achieve what you set out to accomplish in the new year.

That post touched on how to set goals in a way that you’ll meet them. One of the actions discussed is to write your goals down. Committing your goals to paper is a powerful step towards meeting them because it makes them tangible.

Another action that I planned to offer up and explore in today’s post is to share your goals with others. I am a big believer that sharing your goals is a crucial step in helping you achieve them. Similar to writing them down, sharing your goals shines a light on them, gives them air, and exposes them. It sounds like we’re talking about plants not goals, but much like a plant, I believe a goal kept in the dark has no chance of surviving.

Initially, I planned to go into detail about why sharing your goals with others is essential to meeting them. However, in looking for studies and statistics to support my points, I encountered many articles that supported a different thought: if you want to meet your goals, don’t share them.

Don’t Share Your Goals if You Want to Achieve Them?

Among the “don’t share your goals” camp is this TED Talk by Derek Sivers.

It’s a brief video, but if you didn’t watch it here is a summary of the point he makes for not sharing your goals:

Sharing your goals makes them less likely to happen because of “social reality.” Your mind is tricked into feeling the goal has already been accomplished because you receive acknowledgment when you share it. The satisfaction you experience replaces the motivation needed to accomplish the goal. Your mind “mistakes the talking for the doing.”

In the video, Sivers goes on to support his statements with additional findings and research.

If you’re a private or reserved person like myself, hearing the suggestion of keeping your goals to yourself might give you a sense of relief. Sometimes I want to hold the things I’m working on to myself. But, if I’m honest with myself, that tendency stems mostly from fear—fear that if I share my goal and miss it, then my failure would be exposed.

What About Accountability?

In my opinion, I increase my chance of failure by not sharing my goals. A significant benefit of telling others about your goals is the accountability that is gained.

Whether it’s through an official accountability partner or simply as a result of “putting yourself out there,” when others know about your goals, you have someone else besides yourself to answer to. That in itself provides motivation to meet your goals.

When you keep your goals to yourself, you can miss them, disregard them, or perpetually extend them, and no one would be the wiser. And yes, we might prefer that our “misses” go unnoticed, but we cut ourselves off from the motivation and accountability that is built in when others do know about our goals. We reduce our chances of meeting our goals when we keep them hidden.

Now there is something to be said for who you share your goals with. I do believe we should choose wisely who we trust with our dreams and desires.

What Do You Think?

Even with the evidence that “social reality” reduces our likelihood of meeting goals, I will continue sharing mine. In my experience, I cannot say that when I share my goals I feel any sense of accomplishment just in the telling of my goals. Rather, I feel like I have a greater responsibility to now hit that goal.

So what’s your take? Do you think sharing your goals helps you meet them, or do you think you’re better off keeping them to yourself?

If you’re up for sharing, what goals are you working on for 2017?

Are you all about goal setting? Do you write them down? What about sharing your goals? Does that help or hurt your chances of achieving them?