Is it bad to share your goals with others?

There’s a fine balance between needing accountability to accomplish our goals and wanting to keep things to ourselves, for whatever reason. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t share all of the things on my bucket list, because I hold some too closely. However, I’ve experienced too many benefits from talking about my goals (online and in real life) to keep them to myself.

Sharing our goals helps us to connect with and get encouragement from other people who want to do (or hear about others doing) similar goals. Together we get to enjoy the excitement of planning, and can exchange tips and ideas to make each experience better.

Sharing goals also keeps me accountable. If you hear me talk about something I plan to do in February, and don’t hear anything else about it and now it’s November, you might ask how it went. And if I haven’t done it yet, I’d be reminded and would follow through, because it’s embarrassing to only talk about doing things yet never actually do them.

But maybe that’s just me.

In the TED talk below, Derek Sivers makes an argument that sharing our goals may make us less likely to accomplish them. Take the 3 minutes to watch the video and let me know: what works best for you? Do you tell people your goals, or keep them to yourself?

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7 thoughts on “Is it bad to share your goals with others?

  1. Pingback: 4 Steps to Accomplishing Your Goals – Step 2: Plan and Take Action | The Goal List

  2. Mik Hetu

    Not so much online but in “real life” you have to very careful to whom you tell your most important and difficult goals, and I’ll give you two reasons.
    The first is the internal psychological effect as described in the TED video, which, btw, is also described – in different terms – by Napoleon Hill. The second reason is external: depending on the people you’ve surrounded yourself with (or are stuck with, such as your family!), you’re either going to get encouragement and support or something in the range from a neutral dismissal to ridicule to indirect but outright sabotage. Negativity from others can be sneaky and insidious, and just like a low-grade infection it can steel your energy and resolve.
    If your circle of friends is full of people who often push their own limits and are constantly expanding their own comfort zones, yes, go ahead and share your goals. If your friends are mostly content to do little more than maintain their own personal status quo, no, do NOT share your goals. If they’re in the habit of maintaining the status quo, and you’re trying to change things (even for just yourself), guess what? To maintain the “group identity” they WILL attempt to pull you back to the person you were yesterday instead of helping you to become the person you could be tomorrow. They may very well still love you, but their fears will rise to just right under the surface of their words and actions toward you.
    If you have a significantly hard-to-achieve goal, whether it is to lose weight, stop smoking, start a business, write a novel, whatever, generally the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut and take steps toward the goal. Once you have a little momentum, not only will it help keep you on track, it’ll help to silence naysayers. For example, if you announce that you want to build a somewhat popular blog, and someone tells you, “That’s good! But don’t get your hopes up too high – they’re are millions of bloggers out there,” you can say (or even think to yourself), “Ya, but I already have 97 followers . . . ”
    This leads to another thought about goals: do not place much weight in negative advice from ANYONE who hasn’t succeeded at something similar to your goal. One step better is to take advice from someone who has both failed and succeeded at something similar.
    For example, plenty of people will tell you why it’s not such a good idea to start a small business. The most curious reason I’ve repeatedly heard for not buying into a franchise is that the parent corporation will control you and tell you how everything has to be done and they’ll profit from your labors . . . uhm, ya, which is totally unlike every job they’ve ever had, right? And because the corporations’ methods do work and have already been refined in other locations through other peoples’ costly mistakes of trial and error, it would be better for you to re-invent the wheel, right? Well, if these reasons are coming from a couch potato, ignore them. Go find someone who can say, “I failed at this, and that, and that. I finally figured out why, and I’ve succeeded at this other thing. Yes, there are some drawbacks to it – I have to do A, B, and C. But here are the benefits – D, E, F, G, and H.”
    Who has much more credibility, the critic on the couch or the person who’s “been there, done that, SOLD the T-shirts!” ?
    Oh well, my morning coffee has certainly kicked in, so it’s time for me to get productive toward my own goals . . . shhhhh, later, I’ll tell y’all what they are!

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    1. Shelly Najjar Post author

      As always, thank you Mik for taking the time to read and comment. I agree (and so does thewhisperingpen, commented below) that there are certain people who might be more helpful and encouraging than others. And yes, I see your point, it happens with goal setting that there will be people who sabotage or discourage you from your goals, but I disagree a little that you should always ignore those comments. That couch potato you mention could have had a business that failed, and the advice is coming from their experience and fears for you. The advice, however discouraging, could be useful in identifying the drawbacks or potential barriers that need to be overcome if you decide to continue with your goal. Still, as you say, exercising discretion in the source, quality, and intention of the advice is wise for all circumstances. Some advice is not worth following. Thanks for your comment, I hope you get your momentum of success going (always encouraging when we hit difficulty, as you mentioned) and feel free to come back and share your goals when you’re ready. I’m sure the community here would be encouraging of your dreams. 🙂

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    1. Shelly Najjar Post author

      Yeah, I think that it might depend on the response you get from people. I haven’t really felt this happen in my life. If you tell some people your goals, they don’t automatically assign that with part of your identity, sometimes they just help you plan or work out the difficulties. Maybe it depends on the helpfulness of your friends… 🙂

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    1. Shelly Najjar Post author

      I also usually don’t like to share things I’m worried I might not be able to complete on the first try, but I’ve started to realize that many of my bucket list items require multiple attempts, so it doesn’t seem as much like failure as simply one step closer to the goal. But I also do like you do and only tell about certain goals to certain people, leaving out the people who will rub it in my face.

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