You’re probably familiar with the idea of sharing your goals publicly. You announce to the world that you’re going to lose 20 pounds, learn Mandarin, or take a trip to Tahiti over next Christmas.
It’s common advice, but is it good advice?
Opinions vary on the subject. As with most things, it depends on the person.
Pros of Sharing Your Goals
Sharing your goals publicly has several advantages:
1. It makes you more accountable. The most compelling argument for sharing your goals is being held accountable by your peers. It’s a little easier to let yourself down than it is to face public ridicule.
- Most of us are concerned with how we appear to others, so sharing your goals can add extra incentive to accomplish them.
2. It makes your goals real. Most of us keep our goals inside, which keeps them less tangible. Once you put them out there for the whole world to see, your goals are transformed from a mere thought to something real.
3. It keeps you focused. The fear of failing publicly has a way of focusing your attention. If you routinely have trouble focusing, sharing your goals could prove to be helpful.
4. You stay motivated. Your motivation is likely to stay higher when you share your goals. Sustained motivation is a challenge for most people.
There’s no doubt that goal-sharing looks good on paper and has several advantages. Peer pressure can be a powerful thing. Who doesn’t want to look successful in front of the gang?
Cons of Sharing Your Goals
On the other hand, sharing your goals might be detrimental to your success.
1. Does sharing make you more preoccupied with what others think? A fully developed, emotionally healthy person isn’t too concerned with the opinions of others. If you find yourself preoccupied with what other people think, that might be something you want to address.
2. Others are likely to sabotage you. While there are a few people that truly have your best interests at heart, many do not. Some of these people might even be among your closest friends and family members. Many people want you to do well, just not better than they’re doing.
- When you share big goals and are successful, you force others to look at themselves. People feel the need to justify their own shortcomings, which is uncomfortable. It’s easier to discourage you than to explain why they’re not as successful as you’re trying to be.
- This discouragement can seem harmless, but it isn’t. A simple statement like, “Are you sure you want to run a marathon? Don’t you have bad feet? I’d rather spend the time with my children instead of spending it running,” can really take the wind out of your sails.
Announcing your goals can clearly have negative consequences, too. It can depend on the people you have in your social circle. It also depends on your basic nature. Are you easily discouraged?
While many self-help gurus are in favor of sharing your goals, science disagrees. Several studies have shown that sharing your goals publicly makes you less likely to accomplish them.
The praise you receive for announcing your goals can actually sap your motivation to continue.
So, should you share your goals publicly or keep them to yourself? It depends on you. Try it both ways and see which way supports you more effectively.