Day 22: Why I disagree with Derek Siver’s Ted talk “Keep your goals to yourself”

When you have a new goal do you share that with your family and friends or keep hush about it? In his Ted talk ” Keep your goals to yourself” Derek Sivers  says that  if you share your goals you most probably won’t ever see them come to light. That goes against every goal setting advice I have ever heard. Could Derek actually be right?

I debated about whether publishing today’s post. So far I have been on board with every Ted speaker, been dancing to the same tune been right up on that wagon with them, but I just can’t do that with today’s Ted talk post. I just don’t agree with Derek Sivers view on goal setting.  The core message of his Ted talk was that when you tell someone your goals your brain is tricked into thinking that you have already achieved that goal or in Derek’s words “telling someone your goals make them less likely to happen” Basically  Derek says once are brain believes that we have achieved the goal we become less motivated to actually achieve them.

Why I disagree with Derek Siver’s Ted talk “Keep your goals to yourself”

You have to be held accountable for your goals

I am big on accountability. I believe that we are not hard enough on ourselves and can become lazy with our projects if we keep them to ourselves.  I include myself in that scenario. I can be a huge procrastinator. That’s one of the reasons I started this whole 365 Days of Ted  challenge as a way to ingrain discipline and consistency into me. If we tell our family and friends about our goals they can keep us accountable and make sure that we are pushing ourselves forward.   I have been in a Mastermind group for 3 months now for that very reason – to keep me accountable to what I say I am going to do.

You never know who might be able to help

By sharing your goal with others you might get help from a person you never expected. This help can be in the form or advice, a resource or an introduction to someone else who can help. I find that people generally like to help each other out and if you are keeping quiet on your goals nobody will be able to offer assistance.

Sometimes you need a cheer squad

When you hit a bump in reaching your goals your motivation can plummet.  Having the support of family and friends to boost your spirits can work wonders to help you pick yourself back up and move yourself forward. There’s no cheer squad if nobody knows what you are doing.

Keeping goals to yourself goes against visualising success

In the sporting world athletes are often told to visualise their success to the point that they can feel the victory before it has even happened. It becomes so real to them, so imagined and practiced in their mind that it feels like it has already happened. Their brains are tricked into thinking that they have already reached their goal but that doesn’t  stop it happening in reality – their motivation isn’t diminished it’s enhanced.

Their also another aspect I want to briefly touch upon, that’s a bit out there, but interesting all the same. The law of attraction has been a buzz word ever since that awful movie The Secret came out all those years ago. Whilst I think that the movie was awful I do think that there is some truth in the theory of law of attraction ‘manifestation’ which basically means that when a person completely and wholly visualises something to the point that they believe it to be truth it manifests in one way or another.

Now I am not saying that this is manifested by the universe. I am also not saying it isn’t. I don’t know. It could simply  be that when we wholly believe something to be true we get laser focus and super charged awareness on it and are able to see opportunities or resource to help us reach our goals that perhaps we hadn’t noticed before.

When I think you shouldn’t share your goals

I do think that there are times when its definitely best not to share your goals such as telling your goals to unsupportive or negative people. If you think that the reaction from someone is going to be negative then don’t bother telling them. Don’t let anyone distinguish your dreams.  I’ve been there. I was recently discussing 365 Days of Ted with a writer friend. I expected them to be supportive or at least show an interest, but it was more like cold dismissive interest. I now know that I wont be discussing my 365 Days of Ted with them again as it would be an unsupportive exchange.

To Derek’s credit he has backed up his position with social psychology studies. One of these involved 160 people over 4 tests.  All the participants were told to think of their personal goals. Half the group were told to share that goal and the others kept it a secret. The group were then given 45 minutes of tasks to do that would directly move them towards their goal.  The group who kept hush about their goals worked for the full 45 minutes whilst the group who shared their intent lost motivation and quit after 33 minutes.

I must admit in a sense I can understand Derek’s message that if our brain thinks that a goal has already been reached that the  motivation may waiver. I do think though that the motivation may waiver even more if we keep secretive about our goals.   I believe that it is more important to give life and oxygen to a goal and get accountability on ourselves than do it alone. On the issue of accountability Derek agrees. Derek says that if we must share a goal that at least communicate it in a way that leave you absolutely  no satisfaction and ask them to keep you accountable.