We Need to Talk about Goals....Or Not?

I recently listened to a TED Talk by Derek Sivers and it hit me right in my goal-loving heart.  

Basically, he said that the best way to sabotage your goals is to tell people about them. He explained that sharing goals with other people leads to a “social reality,” a feeling of happiness like what you’d feel if you had already reached your goal. Because you already feel satisfied, you’re less likely to put in the hard work to actually achieve your goal.

So, let me get this straight…If I tell people about my goals, I’m more likely to fail? Whaaa?

How depressing is that? I couldn’t help but think… not talking about your goals sounds more risky than sharing them. 

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about how dreaming big paralyzes people. We get so caught up in how scary our lifelong dreams are that we give up before taking baby steps toward them. We keep them to ourselves instead of telling the world because we’re afraid. Afraid of all sorts of stuff - Afraid of feeling uncomfortable. Afraid of not being good enough. Afraid of failing. And unless we face those fears and start taking steps to go from dreaming our dreams to living them, we let them stay buried forever.

Folks, that’s is my personal opinion based on what I teach and coach but it’s also backed by research. Sharing personal or professional goals with others can help keep you more accountable. Ever tried exercising in the morning? Knowing that someone is waiting for you at 6 am can make most any lazy person get out of bed (and by lazy I mean me!).


Talking about your goals helps on so many levels: you get immediate champions, you have people to hold you accountable, you get a built-in support network, and you have cheerleaders applauding your progress and celebrating your big wins.

So, should we believe Sivers or not? Should we talk about our goals or keep them to ourselves? The right answer is…

Do what’s best for you. Forget the research.

Do you think having the support of a friend will keep you more accountable? Then share your goals and ask them to be your accountability buddy, like I do. (Do you think I would really run #100bySummer without my girlies joining in?)

Or would keeping your goals a secret until you made some progress help you stay motivated? Maybe you plot out the first tiny steps on your own before sharing your ideas with the world; you can still lean on friends and family for emotional support if you need to, so you don’t have to go it completely alone (read more on how support networks can launch you faster and further here).  

Each of us is different. Some people need a lot of privacy, others need to talk things out. And certain goals might be easier to share than others.

Sorry, Derek Sivers. The most important thing isn’t deciding whether you should talk about your goals. It’s realizing that you have a dream, trusting yourself, and making that leap from dreaming big to setting manageable goals in the first place. The rest will sort itself out.

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