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Sharing Your Goal Will Reduce Your Chance of Reaching It

Sharing Your Goal Will Reduce Your Chance of Reaching It

This time, it’s going to work. You’re going to achieve your goal. You announce your plan on Facebook. People know what you’re doing. Failure means humiliation. A couple months later, someone asks how your goal is coming along. You mumble an excuse for why you didn’t make it. Other tasks took priority.You haven’t been feeling so good lately. You just plumb forgot about it.

But you know the truth. You lost motivation. What looked like a 400 meter sprint turned out to be a 10 mile marathon. It’s just not fun anymore. You justify quitting and announce a new goal.This time, it’s going to work. But probably not.

Announcing goals is exciting. It feels like you’ve just achieved something big. You talk about what you’re going to do and everyone pats you on the back. The grander the scheme that you dream up, the more excited people get for you. Sharing your goals with the world gives you that positive feedback and validation that you so desperately crave. And that’s exactly why you don’t want to share them.

Sharing Goals Creates an Illusion of Progress

In 2009, NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer conducted four tests in a German university. The purpose: find out how likely we are to achieve our goals after we share them.

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Gollwitzer set up four different tests, consisting of 163 psychology and law students. After each person wrote down a personal goal, half of them were to announce their commitment to the room, while the other half did not. All the students were given 45 minutes to work on their goals, and were told that they could stop at any time. The students that​ didn’t​ announce their goals worked the entire 45 minutes on average, and felt that they had a long way to go before their goal would be achieved. The students who did announce their goals only worked 33 minutes on average, and felt they were much closer to achieving their goals.

Is it possible that the latter group worked harder than the other? Could this be why they feel closer to their goal? Sure, that’s possible. But it’s also obvious that this group had better things to do. This group assumed it was a done deal, while the former group took on a more realistic viewpoint. Who would you bet on?

Sharing Goals Steals Your Motivation

Whether you’re looking to become a lawyer or a better parent, your brain looks for indicators that you’re moving along. According to Gollwitzer, these indicators are calledidentity symbols.

From research article, ‘When Intentions Go Public’:

Positive self-descriptions made in public qualify as powerful identity symbols (Gollwitzer, Wicklund, & Hilton, 1982), and having an audience for behavioral intentions that specify the successful performance of an identity-relevant activity should have the same symbolic impact.

Saying you’re going to do something creates the same identity symbols you’d get from actually doing it. If you say you’re going to become a great lawyer, get the body of a fitness model, or become the world’s greatest Candy Crush player, your brain already feels like you’re there. You’re going to sink back into your chair, pleased with your progress. You think about all the good things that are coming your way. Facebook just stole your motivation and you don’t even realize it.

Try TheseApproaches

How are you supposed to get motivated if you can’t talk about your goals?

Here’s an approach from NYU psychologist Gabriele Oettingen:

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What does work better is a hybrid approach that combines positive thinking with “realism.” Here’s how it works. Think of a wish. For a few minutes, imagine the wish coming true, letting your mind wander and drift where it will. Then shift gears. Spend a few more minutes imagining the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing your wish.

This simple process, which my colleagues and I call “mental contrasting,” has produced powerful results in laboratory experiments.

A compliment to mental contrasting is an accountability group. These are groups of people who are on the same journey as you. They understand the difficulties you face, and share in the joys of small victories. Make sure to join an accountability group that is specific to your goals. If weight loss is your goal, join a group of people who are all trying to lose weight.

Another option is to tempt your friends with the almighty dollar. You may have heard the story of the Las Vegas pit boss who offered a cash reward to anyone who caught him smoking. You don’t have to offer thousands of dollars; even $25 per workout missed is enough to tempt your friends and keep you in check.

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Final Thoughts

In September 2010, Derek Sivers presented a TED Talk called, “Keep your goals to yourself”. Although this video racked up 3.5 million views (and no doubt prompted many discussions), you still see many people announcing their goals on social media. Have you ever noticed that those people never seem to reach their goal? Are you one of them?

Do yourself a favor, and save the celebration for once you’ve made it.

Featured photo credit: Nancy G via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

“Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

“Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

So, How To Get out of Busyness?

Take a look at these articles to help you get unstuck:

Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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