What Happens When You Announce Goals?

And why my goals are well-kept secrets.

Goals are what breeds habits in our lives.

If we want to lose weight, we need habits that’ll help us lose weight.

If we want a successful business, we need to develop skills to help us run a better business.

So you set your goals and feel really happy about them.

But there still is one other decision you have to make:

Should you tell others about them or not?

And while many of us believe it’s a simple yes or no answer, it’s actually quite complicated if you dig into it further. After all, there are some compelling arguments out there for both sides.

Should You Tell Them?

I first learned about this aspect of goal setting from one of Jay Shetty’s videos. He talked about goals but he specifically talked about a study of Harvard students. They were asked to set goals and will be visited again in 10 years to see if they achieved their goals.

What the research found was that the students who wrote their goals down, created a plan AND told other people about it were more likely to succeed.

Furthermore many will argue of telling people is smart because it creates accountability. Many believe it’s the key to hitting your goals because you’ll have someone who cares and is invested in you.

Another way you can look at announcing goals can be in the form of storytelling. And there are multiple examples of people telling others their goals and making it part of their stories. Not to mention storytelling is a powerful tactic in today’s society where we long for connection.

You’d think that more people would be successful if they simply pipped up right?

Not exactly.

Why It’s Better To Be Cautious Or Avoid It

I’ve always taken the middle ground in many situations. I do announce my goals, but when I’m in public, I say them vaguely. There are only a few people who know the specific details and my motivations behind my goals.

I even mention in one of my recent videos my stance on it.

The reason I like this method is that I still believe it’s key to talk about them. It’s an opportunity to reaffirm yourself that you are working towards your goals. You’re reminding yourself and goals are honestly tools that help you develop specific habits.

By telling people really close what you are going after brings you that much closer to achieving it and getting the motivation for it.

Even on a conservative level, it feels good to tell people what’s on your mind and where you want to go.

But a 2017 study led by Peter Gollwitzer, shows the opposite.

The result of the study showed that when your intentions are announced or told to large groups, you’re already creating a premature sense of completeness.

While there is certainly a sense of pride from what you intend to do, the pride alone isn’t a source of motivation but more of a hindrance later on.

The study also went on to say that when you are writing down or even thinking about your intentions there is a gap between where you’re at right now and where you wish to be. This gap, however big or small artificially shrinks when you announce goals compared to when you keep them in.

It’s for this reason why many researchers are suggesting to keep your goals in, or at least to not talk about them to every individual you meet. The reason being is that these goals can be identity goals: goals that influence your view of who you are.

From career goals to even development of habits can easily be identity goals and talking about them to everyone can shrink your opportunities of achieving them. This only backfires more and keeps you away from doing the things that you want to do in life.

What’s The Best Call?

I have a bit of a bias towards my own method for obvious reasons. It works well for me and I think telling a few people about my goals works. So long as these are people I care about and are invested in my success.

I got that position mainly because I used to make monthly goal videos a few years ago. I posted my goals publicly through videos and blog posts. And even if they weren’t viewed that much, I still didn’t achieve most of the goals that I announced for that month.

Whether I was setting goals all wrong is beside the point. The fact I announced them was what got me so hung up. Things only started to change once I stuck to telling a few people.

Some other great articles to read.