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Social Reality – Why You Should Keep Goals To Yourself


It’s easy to put our dreams on hold and see them as things that we’ll pursue in the future when we don’t have errands to run, bills to pay, work to do, and people to care for. But the truth is we’ll probably always be busy with one thing another, and as the years go by, we’ll only be getting older and more tired too. NOW really is the best time to make our dreams happen. It’s the only time that we can really count on! Setting goals is a great place to start, but it can feel overwhelming. How do you go about it? What’s the best approach? Derek Sivers believes we should keep our goals to ourselves.


Keep your goals to yourself | Derek Sivers


The Concept

Sivers says that telling someone who you meet today of what you are going to do, then imagine their congratulations is a short-lived moment of satisfaction. He further adds that you should have kept quiet because the good feeling will now make you less likely to do it.


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Repeated psychology tests have proven that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. Any time you have a goal, there are some steps that need to be done, some work that needs to be done to achieve it. Ideally you would not be satisfied until you’d done the work. But when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, psychologists have found that it’s called a “social reality.” The mind is kind of tricked into feeling that it’s already done. And then because you’ve felt that satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary.

When you start telling all your friends and family about this goal, “liking” the relevant pages on Facebook, and updating your statuses to indicate your training plans, you’ve created a public image of yourself as “someone who runs marathons.” If you conceptualize this public commitment as a form of goal progress, you might become less motivated to pursue other goals like training, because it will feel somewhat like you’ve already done enough for now.

Because of the feeling of pride and satisfaction you get just from talking about the goal, your brain tricks you into thinking the work is already done, making you that much less likely to complete the real work required to see your goal to the end!


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We also learn from this scenario in which 163 people across four separate tests. Everyone wrote down their personal goal. Then half of them announced their commitment to this goal to the room, 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.


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As per the scenario, this suggests that we should resist the temptation of announcing our goals to others. We can delay the gratification that the social acknowledgment brings, and we can understand that our mind mistakes the talking for the doing. If we require to talk about something, we can state it in a way that gives us no satisfaction.


If you’ve struggled to achieve your goals after sharing them publicly, why not try keeping them secret? Try waiting until you’ve accomplished resolutions before sharing them to the world. Your resolve and determination will be a model to others, and you may secretly inspire someone else to pursue their own goals.


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