First Rule of Your Goals : You don’t talk about your goals
Imagine this, after wasting the entire month before your exams and just days before the D-Day, you decide to get down to business. You make up your mind, tighten your belt and storm off from the bachelors’ paradise after announcing with confidence how and what you are going to achieve over the next couple of days.
Whoa! Now, you need to back up a little there. Because you just made a HUGE mistake. Trust me when I say this, because it comes from years of experience in failing, The First Rule of Achieving Your Goals is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR GOALS! You might think – what has announcing your goals got to do with anything?
“Isn’t it a good thing? Since now you are clear about your goals and since people know about them, you’re accountable for it?”
You’d think that, wouldn’t you. I did. I think most people do. It seems like common sense to tell somebody about a goal you’re planning on meeting; doing so suddenly creates an external motivator (not letting down said person) which should help you stay motivated.
There are several factors that make this a dumb-ass mistake. For one, the assumption that other people give a shit. Not that I’m saying your parents and friends are stuck-ups who don’t care about you and want you to fail, but a majority of the people are too busy with their own life and their own problems to even think about yours.
The messed up part is, that’s not even the real reason why you should keep your mouth shut. The real reason is in SCIENCE. Yup, its scientifically proved that you’re better off not sharing your goals than blurting out the details to everyone. Read on for the details:
Psychological researchers have been studying the intention-behaviour gap, and the stuff that affects it, since the 1920′s. Basically, we as humans like to dream. A lot. We have tons and tons of dreams, goals, and fantasies. We are also (usually) smart enough to know the first steps we need to take in order to achieve these goals. Oftentimes the first step is right in front of us, whether it be a quick phone call or an application.
Another thing about humans is, we find it the hardest to take those first steps. And the steps after that, well … forget it, not gonna happen! That’s why those psychologists call it the intention-behaviour gap! (Which basically means, we have the intention to do something but our behaviour suggests otherwise.)
Peter Gollwitzer and some other researchers at NYU released a paper a few year ago entitled, “When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?” In this paper, they detail the findings of their research on the effects of announcing one’s goals on the intention-behaviour gap.
In the experiments they conducted, they asked a group of people to define a goal they’d like to achieve. For the experiment, they would be given 45 minutes to work on the goal. Here’s the play: half of the group announced their goals to the room, while the other half kept their traps shut.
The results were pretty astounding.
The group that didn’t say anything tended to work for the entire 45 minutes, and when asked about their progress, they said they had a lot more work to do until they were done. However, the group that announced their goal quit after only 33 minutes on average, and they tended to say they felt much closer to completing the goal.
See, when you announce your goal to someone and they affirm it, you feel good. You feel like you’ve actually taken a step towards the goal. It gives you some satisfaction. This is called a social reality. The affirmation of your goal by people whose respect your desire actually makes you feel like you’ve somewhat achieved it, even though you haven’t done shit.
Check out this video of Derek Sivers, who clearly knows what he’s talking about:
Derek Sivers: “It may seem unnatural to keep your intentions and plans private, but try it. If you do tell a friend, make sure not to say it as a satisfaction (“I’ve joined a gym and bought running shoes. I’m going to do it!”), but as dissatisfaction (“I want to lose 20 pounds, so kick my ass if I don’t, OK?”) “
Have your learned something new today? I sure have. Are you going to follow this from now on?