You’re probably familiar with the idea of sharing your goals publicly. You announce to the world that you’re going to eat less meat, save $5,000 for a holiday, learn how to knit, or donate blood.

But before you share your goals with anyone, you need to know if it’s advantageous or damaging.

Is it a good idea to share your goals?

The simple answer is yes and no. Just like almost anything in life, there are pros and cons to sharing your goals with friends and family members.

Sharing your goals has several advantages

It can make you more accountable

One of the most compelling reasons for sharing your personal goals is being accountable to someone.

It can be quite easy to let yourself down if no one knows. And it’s much harder to let someone else down.

Many of us are concerned with how we appear to others. So sharing your goals can add an extra incentive to accomplish them, think of it as goal commitment.

You never know, the person you share your goal with might become a goal sharing buddy. And it’s a great way to get positive feedback on your progress.

It can make your big goals seem more real

Many of us keep our goals and ambitions to ourselves. Which often makes them less tangible, and more of a fantasy. Once you tell someone about them, they are transformed and suddenly real.

And you never know, the person you tell might have a similar goal.

It can help keep you focused

The fear of failing is real. And this fear can help focus your attention where it needs to be to achieve your goals. If you often have trouble focusing, setting up a time to meet with a friend to work on your own goals together can help.

It can keep you motivated

Your motivation and willpower will likely be higher when you share your set goals. The people you share them with are likely to check in on how you are doing occasionally. Which provides sustained motivation by keeping it at the top of your mind.

There is no doubt that sharing your goals looks good on paper. But even though there are a lot of advantages, there are also a handful of disadvantages. And while peer pressure can be a powerful thing, it also goes both ways, becoming detrimental to your chances of success.

When sharing your goals is a bad idea

Announcing your goals can also have negative effects. But it really depends on the people that you have in your social circle. It also depends on your nature.

Are you easily discouraged?

Just like being more accountable, having little or nothing to show for yourself can be incredibly discouraging.

Sometimes a simple comment like “why would you want to train for a marathon? That’s going to take up so much of your time. I know what I’d rather do with all that time”.

The negative feedback can really derail your progress and motivation, even if you have good reasons for in the first place.

Do you care what others think?

Sometimes people want to know why you want to achieve something. And sometimes it doesn’t matter how many times you explain it, they just don’t get it.

They might think you can’t achieve it. Or that you are wasting your time. Which can diminish your hard work and what you thought was a great idea.

It’s easier for some people to talk down to you about your goals because it often forces them to look at themselves. And look at the shortcomings in their own life, which can be incredibly uncomfortable. It’s easier for them to discourage you than explain why they aren’t trying to be better themselves.

The threat of sabotage

Sometimes people just aren’t nice. While many people really have your best interests at heart, there are some that don’t. And those that do want to see you do well, might not want you to do better than they are doing.

Sometimes your friends and family may not realise that they are sabotaging you and your progress.

  • your partner surprises you with a trip to your favourite brewery when you’re taking a month off alcohol
  • your friends buy a decadent cake for your birthday when you’re trying to eat healthier
  • you never take time off to rest and burn out easily
  • you buy goods that don’t align with your weight loss intentions

You can also sabotage yourself via procrastination. You put anything and everything before working on your goals. Procrasti-cleaning is a real thing!

The fear of failure

The praise you receive when announcing your goals can easily zap your motivation to continue. And the fear of failing or not living up to your expectations can be alarming.

Working on your attitude towards goals and failure can help.

Science thinks it’s not a good idea

Conventional wisdom and self-help gurus will praise the effects of successful goal achievement through sharing.

But a recent study done by NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer has shown that sharing your goals makes you less likely to accomplish them. And it turns out the odds are stacked against you because of your identity, self-regulation and your emotions.

A second study by the American Psychology Association also provided science-backed reasons not to share your goals.

Derek Sivers Ted Talk – Keep your goals to yourself

Where to share your goals

If you do decide to share your goals, there are plenty of places for finding the right person.

  • on social media or a social network
  • with an accountability partner
  • as written new year’s resolutions
  • with your inner circle of friends
  • with like-minded people with similar goals
  • on to-do lists near your workspace
  • with your personal trainer, business coach or life coach

Contrary to what you may have heard, in most cases you get more benefit from sharing your goal than if you don’t – as long as you share it with someone whose opinion you value,

– Howard Klein, Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business

So, should you share your goals or keep them to yourself? And the answer is, it really depends. It depends on you and how you deal with motivation, focus and discouragement. So pick the best way that suits you and your needs.

Perhaps next time you share with some people but keep it to yourself around others.


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