Should You Keep Your Goals to Yourself?

I have always believed that you are more likely to accomplish big goals if you declare them publicly. My rationale has been that this creates the accountability you need to follow-through. But now I am not so sure.

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Derek Sivers makes a compelling case against going public with your goals in his short talk at the 2010 Ted Conference. (The talk is only a little over three minutes long.) His basic premise is this: telling someone your goals makes them less likely to happen.

If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest that you buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, 4.0. It will save you HOURS of learning Evernote on your own.

Why is this true? According to him, it is because you get the psychological satisfaction of accomplishing the goal without having to actually do the work. In other words, talking becomes a substitute for doing.

This goes against conventional goal-setting wisdom. However, Sivers cites the work of several psychologists, including Kurt Lewin, Wera Mahler, and Peter Gollwitzer. He then describes a fascinating study that Dr. Gollwitzer conducted in 2009.

In four separate tests, 163 people wrote down a personal goal. Half of them announced their commitment to their goal; half of them didn’t. Then they were given 45-minutes to work toward their goal but told that they could stop at any time.

Those who had kept their mouth shut, worked the entire 45 minutes. Afterward, they said they still had a lot of work to do in order to accomplish their goal. On the other hand, those who had gone public, stopped after 33 minutes (on average). They felt they were already close to accomplishing their goal and didn’t need to work the entire time.

I personally think Sivers’ premise makes sense for individuals. In fact, I am completely re-thinking this, since I took exactly the opposite point of view in an earlier post. I am going to experiment with a new goal I have created for myself but have not yet expressed publicly.

However, I wonder if Sivers’ philosophy makes sense for organizations. After all, as a leader, a big part of your job is to cast vision and create alignment around specific outcomes. How can you do this without going public?

Perhaps, the application is that you don’t share the goal with outsiders. Instead, you keep it between your teammates. As someone once said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do,” so why announce it until you have accomplished it?

Honestly, I am not sure what to think about the organizational application. I am still mulling it over.

Question: What do you think? Should you go public with your goals or not?
Learn how eight simple but powerful tweaks can help you grow your platform. Get my new video series, Your Platform Makeover. It’s free for a limited time. Click here to watch it now.

Get the FREE video series now

Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://www.peopleskillsdecoded.com Eduard – Conversation Starters

    Hi Michael,

    I have to say, I’m always in support of scientific research, but this idea of not sharing your goals seems like a premature conclusion to me. Maybe it depends on one’s values. For some people, peer pressure can be a huge motivator, for some not so much.

    Cheers, Eduard

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your comment. That’s why I think it makes sense to test it. That’s what I plan to do.

      • http://www.kinderboost.com Michael Gray

        But if you ANNOUNCE that you are making plans to test this theory, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? ;)

  • http://www.moonboatcafe.com Cassandra Frear

    This is a very intriguing discussion. Accountability can be a powerful tool for change, as witnessed by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers.

    But I’ve noticed that it does shift the emphasis from doing to satisfying the expectations of others. It’s an important shift in energy and focus. Perhaps this is why people being held accountable often stop doing their newly acquired behavior when they are no longer held accountable.

    For changes to stick, they have to worked into a lifestyle. The focus has to be on incremental, achievable changes over time. If we’re not doing the changes, not keeping the commitment, it’s time to stop and ask why. What do we REALLY want?

  • http://mandythompson.com mandythompson

    I watched that video earlier this week and it surprised me, since I have personally experienced the exact opposite. Sharing my goals with others has been an effective motivator for me… I’m not a fan of failure, especially public failure. Yes, I did find a sense of accomplishment in stating a goal, and maybe that sense slowed me down… Maybe. But it’s not quite the same as actually achieving the goal. And, without the eyes of onlookers, I may have quit altogether… I’d rather take the slow route, than to take no route at all.

    Here’s another angle: All the people in the 2009 test *knew* that they were being observed–even those who didn’t publicly share their goal… They still knew that the experimenters were playing with this concept of goal achievement and observing their behavior… I wonder if those hard-working 45ers would’ve pushed as much if *no one at all* knew they were slugging away at a goal…?

    Note: You did it as well >> “I am going to experiment with a new goal I have created for myself but have not yet expressed publicly.” This is probably the way to go. Anonymous goal achievement.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You make some great points. I will report back on my little experiment, though it will likely be a month or so.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony Alicea

    I believe I stand in between both points. On one hand, I completely see the rationale of not shouting your goal from a mountaintop. That’s enough work in itself for many people to be satisfied with.

    On the other hand, I strongly believe that it is wise to share goals with those closest to you. They will encourage you and push you forward to achieving your goals. Not everyone is perfectly self-motivated and many of us need a push from someone that we highly respect to keep us focused and know that someone believes that we can attain our goal.

  • Jevon Bolden

    I have to say that I am fairly quiet about my goals and have always believed that actions speak louder than words. The other part of it for me is that I feel like I am somehow giving away a portion of the power I need to accomplish certain goals when I tell too many people. It is important to protect your plans and goals from dream-stealers and naysayers. I have a small group who I share my goals with because they understand me and the heart from which my goals develop. I trust that they will be supportive, honest, and encouraging. Everyone is not like that. So especially in the infancy stages of forming and pursuing my goals, I keep a tight lid on them. As they begin to produce fruit, I feel they are strong enough to be shared and essentially withstand the praise or criticism from others.

    • http://thinkingtoodeeply.blogspot.com Karin

      I can certainly relate to the ‘dream-stealers and naysayers’ if one’s visions and goals are shared too soon.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Should You Keep Your Goals to Yourself? -- Topsy.com

  • Joni

    Michael,

    I was astounded, and I have written about it, to find that in a letter to my mother sent in 1979 when I was 18, that I had stated very specifically the goal I had earn a master’s degree and do precisely what I am doing right now. It was in 2005, three years after her death, that I discovered that letter written to her. I had no recollection of ever specifically having that clear of a goal or certainly of writing that letter. Words can hardly describe the affirmation, at 45 years old, that I felt at seeing I had achieved something I had hoped for at 18. My step-dad, my family, and then others with whom I’ve shared the letter to encourage, have benefited from that discovery.

    That aside, I’ve always found it troubling to aspire to too much on the personal side, given that divine intervention seems to take care of most of my goals other than the usual, earn degrees, pursue excellence, etc. In fact, someone asked me yesterday in an interview what my goals were and I loosely said to maybe teach (although I really need to earn a Ph.D. to do that full time), and to write fiction. So your column does have me thinking on that end.

    As for organizational goals, I think they must be shared for accountability–at least within the organization itself and perhaps with its stakeholders. I believe goals should be set and shared at each level and with one’s board so the organization will not stagnate or become complacent or consider it is “doing the best it can with what it has.” Especially when its employees and leaders have been there for a while. I believe if new goals or strategies are not continually set and shared it will stagnate or decline. And I believe sometimes the only way to measure if goals are being set is to share them with one’s leaders or boards.

  • Juan

    Hi Mike, I think keeping my goals in private make me feel like I am working towards achieve them while others are resting. I am action oriented and like competition so this goes along with the way I am. I other words -telling or not telling to other people your goals and getting them done, depends more on our own personality (Action, Technical, Relationship, Structured). Maybe a Relationship type person, wants everybody to know it, therefore he/she tells to everybody that listen her/his goals.
    In the corporate world – I think we have to tell our goals clearly and repeat them all the time.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      There probably needs to be some more research done on this. I am not sure the sample of 163 was broad enough or the methodology sound enough. It seems like this would be a great Ph.D. dissertation for someone!

  • Gary

    I think goals are a personal thing and each person as an individual will react different to making them public. If you define making them public as telling someone else about your goals, then telling an accountability partner is making them public. This can help people accomplish a goal. But, I have been asked to hold someone accountable and it seemed that was more imprtant to him. I still think telling someone helps in accomplishing the goals.

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

    Mike, this is really interesting. I’m glad you blogged about it. Like you, my intuition is that stating a goal would essentially create a sense of accountability. Derek Sivers talks about the psychology of sharing our goals publicly, but I think a change in our culture has impacted this. Today, people judge others more on heart and intentions than actions and accomplishments. For better or worse many of us applaud trying as much as we applaud winning both for others and ourselves.

    • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

      One thing I would add is that there’s a big difference between the perceived sense of accountability some of us get from stating a goal publicly and the actual accountability of having someone who is going to ask us about our progress on a regular basis.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s an interesting perspective I had not thought about, Paul. Thanks.

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    I’m not really buying this. I mean, I’m not doubting the research, but I think the application he gives is stretching it. It’s good to be aware of the truth that our minds can be tricked into believing that talking is the same as doing. Our minds and our bodies will want to believe that anything is the same as doing.

    We “trick” ourselves in lots of ways to avoid the hard work it takes to change. Even listening to or reading about what we should do can substitute for doing. St. James addresses this when he exhorts, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

    We need others to hold us accountable and to help us. And in order to have someone hold us to what we want to see come true in our lives we have to speak it. Others can’t read our minds. We need each other. “Two are better than one,…For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” (Ecc. 4:9,10) We need help to change.

    I know, in my own life, when I try to make significant changes, I’m successful to the degree that I’m open about my “goals” and honest about my struggles. When I try to keep my mouth shut, to do it on my own, and hope to surprise others, I go no where. Except maybe backwards. Then my head fills with all the excuses and justifications for why I can’t do what I know I want and need to do. My mind is “tricked into believing” that my excuses are good enough for not doing.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You make some great points, dear—as usual. Thanks for commenting!

    • http://timothyfish.blogspot.com Timothy Fish

      Perhaps it is just a trick, but I think part of what makes it work is that until we voice our goals and get affirmation that we can do it we question whether it is a reasonable goal or not. That’s part of what the experiment showed. Once people have stated the goal, it seems like an easier task, so they don’t work as hard at it. For the other people, they Won’t feel confident that they can accomplish it until the goal is within sight, when they’ve done enough to prove that they can do it.

  • Wayne

    I think this concept carries weight far beyone goal setting. It seems indicative of human nature in general and that in religion, politics and relationships talking about things easily replaces doing them, and actually can give the false illusion of engaging in activities that are merely being discussed. Here is a quote I recently read from Charles Marsh..”If only holiness were measured by the volume of our incessant chatter, we would be universally praised as the most holy nation on earth. But in our fretful, theatrical piety, we have come to mistake noisiness for holiness….” I think the same could be applied to goal setting in general. It is an intentional act to ensure that talking about things, no matter what the area does not replace action.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Remember when Ross Perot famously said, “We think that if we talk about it on television, we have done it.” Same principle in play, I think.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    Very interesting, Mike! I”ve tended not to announce my goals because it feels like I’m jinxing myself. Oh and there’s that whole feeling like an idiot if I don’t make it. LOL I didn’t even tell very many people my dream of writing novel for a long time. So put me in the camp of keeping my mouth shut for the ones that matter the most to me.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have some author friends who refuse to talk about the book they are working on. They are highly productive. There may be something to this!

  • http://berkerblog.blogspot.com SueB

    Does this decision have to be a “one size fits all” conception? I think both theories can work for different situations. At the beginning of each year I pick a word, announce it on my blog and then focus on the word throughout the year. At the end of this year I plan to post the different ways I reached my goal of focusing on my word. This year my word was “committed”. Another goal I announced on my blog was to raise $100 in sponsorships for a 5k run/walk for Autism that I did. Because I announced that goal, caring folks donated $200 and I had the satisfaction of being able to participate in the run/walk. (I walked it.) But I can think of many instances where a goal should be kept a secret. How about if I make a goal of praying for the Lord to bring someone back to the fold? Revealing that to the person could either encourage them or make them rebel. Caring actions on the person’s behalf may be a better public testimony.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    For organizations goals must be public, at least to those who are involved in accomplishing them. It would be hard to stay motivated if you are not sure what your working toward.

    On a personal level it depends on the goal and the person. I don’t publicize all of my goals since some are personal and apply only to me. The goals I have which include others are shared.

    Overall, It is a personal choice in my opinion.

  • Dan

    If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:

    Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A Vision Wall (inspiring images attached to your goals) is available too.
    Works also on mobile, and syncs with Evernote.

  • http://www.lamplightministry.com Jennifer Mersberger

    I like your point about personal vs group goal setting. I totally agree that the leader casts the vision for the group and have personally experienced the frustration of being on a team without a clearly stated goal.

    On the other hand, I have been immensely blessed by sharing my personal goals with others. They have covered the effort in prayer and have been encouraged to pursue their own goals by following my progress.

    Ultimately it’s up to each of us to know what motivates us and our motive behind sharing the goals with others.
    Great discussion!

    Jennifer
    http://www.lamplightministry.com

  • http://www.greggfraley.com/blog Gregg Fraley

    I had a mentor in my early days, Bill McGrane, who believed in secret goals. He thought there was a power to having the secret, and protecting yourself from criticism and negativism. He advised going about your business, and then “springing” an accomplishment on others when it was done. The surprise and delight being part of the payoff.

    I know it’s anecdotal, but personally, secret goals work better for me. I’ve tried public declarations and if the goal is a lofty one, you must endure the slings and arrows of disbelief, criticism, and worse. And, if one shifts the mission, even for good reasons, it requires explanations.

    Organizationally there is a parallel, which is the “skunk works.” For some projects secrecy allows a new concept to live and breathe, and prototypes/pilots to be made — before the idea killers get ahold of it.

    Lovely post as always, thank you for your consistently interesting provocations.

  • http://timothyfish.blogspot.com Timothy Fish

    For some reason, it’s in my nature to not share my goals. I don’t announce that I’m going to do something, instead I just show up one day with it done. That works great for me because if I announce my goals I spend too much time worrying about whether I’ll be able to deliver on my promise.

    For organizations I see a potential problem in that the people doing the work would have a hard time doing the work if they don’t know where they are headed. For it to work, the person with the goal has to know everything about what he needs to accomplish it and his subordinates must respect him for his abilities. The simple fact is that most organizational leaders don’t have a clue as to what is required to reach their goal, so they rely on other people who do.

    But as Microsoft has shown over the years, when you announce you’re doing something, people expect you to finish it ontime. It doesn’t matter how good all your other software is, if the latest and greatest thing is late, people are going to complain.

  • Blair Shelton

    Michael,

    Another interesting post; thanks for sharing. I have personally found that the route people take to achieve goals is based on that person. I feel like having goals hidden away makes me accountable to myself and I can surprise (and hopefully impress) my boss by achieving goals that he did not know I had. On the other hand, the goals that are publicly stated end up just getting enough done to meet them. I often feel like I am bound to them as they are and I cannot change them if I find a better goal to shoot for.

    On the flip side to this, it seems some people will never achieve their goals if they are not motivated by outside forces to achieve them. The constant outside pressure will keep the project moving towards completion.

    So each person behaves differently. Perhaps the group of people for the experiment were not diverse enough; who knows?

  • Mark McKeen

    I have two thoughts on this video: First, I believe that Derek Sivers’ premise is true…at least for me, and at least on some goals. But I also think that it depends much on the personality of the individual. I tend to be incredibly people-oriented and not so much task-oriented, so talking about things is one of my strengths. Recently, I was sharing a personal goal with a number of people. Talking about the goal became the goal itself, and I soon abandoned what I had started. Sivers has an interesting point, and it definitely gives the individual the option to think: “should I publicize this goal or not?” before embarking on it. Some goals are worth publicizing, and others aren’t.

    My other thought is that Sivers simply accredits the research to all people in all circumstances. It is important to realize that the *average* person stopped after 33 minutes of working on their goal. That means that some worked longer, and, no doubt, felt they needed more time to accomplish their goals. If 100% of the people who shared their goal stopped early, then you would be able to apply this premise to all people.

    So Sivers gives some reason to evaluate goals and publicizing them, but in the end, I don’t think his premise can be considered a dogmatic statement.

  • Kevin

    I have never thought of it this way but in looking back I can definitely recall times where I verbalized a goal publicly, put a lot of initial effort toward it, then became distracted toward something else – yet still felt like the goal was accomplished. Conversely, there have been times when I worked on a goal/project and put a tremendous amount of time into it, achieved the goal – and only then shared the results of that work. I must say I felt a lot more satisfaction from the latter than the former!

  • http://www.heretowhere.com Jared Brandon

    I’ve always thought this! Though… I could never verbalize it quite so well. I know this is how it works for me, but I could also see some people being motivated by sharing their goals with others and seeing that as a form of “Step 1″ or accountability. I just told my wife about a project I’ve been planning and researching for almost a year now. But now I feel significantly less attached and somewhat crestfallen… like since the secret is out, they shock and awe is gone too and I have much less motivation. Now to get re-inspired…

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I think there is a lot of truth in this study. Take weight loss for example. How many people do you know that announced that they were going to lose 10, 20, or even 50 pounds and then gave up after a week. I would much rather take on the goal, share it with a coach or mentor, and then wait for people to say after a few weeks… “Are you losing weight?” I’ve found that I’m especially motivated when someone tells me that I can’t do something or they think something is impossible.

    I’ve written about this concept on my blog a while back… it’s the difference between “have to” and “want to.” When you announce your plans to the world you get all the satisfaction up front, but then you are in “have to” mode. You have to perform, or you have to make excuses. If you keep the goal to yourself and possibly a coach or mentor, you have a lot more freedom and as you start to see results you “want to” continue on.
    I don’t know about you, but as a creative person, I hate having rigid “have to” guidelines. Suddenly fun activities become a chore.
    Maybe it’s the mystery writer in me, but I like to keep people guessing.

    I think the same thing applies to corporate work. Goals should be shared on a basic format with the team, but creativity and individuality should be encouraged. Having a sense of competition and doing something that has never been done before are great motivators.

    That’s what makes your blog so great, you always have new and exciting topics, not rote leadership 101 repetition.

    (For reference, my “Have To” post can be found here http://bit.ly/aOGmed )

  • Linda

    Ummmm…the group that spoke their goal stopped sooner and felt closer to their goal…were they in fact closer to their goal? Did the confidence they received from speaking their goal and getting support allow their minds to be free and engaged during the task. Were the people who worked longer actually more productive? Were they more nervous because they did not have support? Activity does not always mean productivity.

    To draw a conclusion from this video is a bit challenging.

    However, I have heard that people who tell the story they have in their hearts are less likely to commit to the task of converting that story into a finished written piece.

    Perhaps the answer to sharing your goals in the future would depend greatly on your success with accomplishing goals for your life independently in the past.

    There are times when support helps us break out of our inertia.

    And there are times when we really don’t want to change, or we would.

  • http://www.garyminor.com Gary Minor

    Mike, I like Zig ziglar’s approach. “Quit goals”, you need to share, so others can help you stay accountable. for instace, quit smoking goals need to be shared with those you used to smoke with. Stop eateing dessert neds to be shared with those you eat with, so they will quit offering to split a dessert with you.

    On the other hand, what Zig calls “go up” goals,maybe should be kept more close to the vest. IF you goal is to become the #1 salesperson on the team, keeping that one to yourself and your sales manager, is enough. Sharing it with the person who is usually the #1 sales person, may not be helpful.

    Oragnizaitonal goals hlpe others in the org to set priorities and focus. If you keep your “new markets” target to yourself, how can anyone persue them? IF you keep your “reduce overhead ” goals to yourself, how will anyone selse know to focus on it and be on the lookoutfor ways to cut overhead?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think this is a really valuable distinction, Gary. Clearly, more research needs to be done.

  • http://www.joannesher.com Joanne Sher

    This has really gotten me thinking. I am one who posts her writing and other related goals on her blog the first of each month, and often (thought not always)completes them, or at least comes close. (they’re also on my sidebar) Not only does it motivate ME, but several people have told me that it encourages them.
    Am curious to hear your result in a month or two.

  • http://www.discovertexasonline.com Lynn Dean

    Consider politicians. They announce their goals in advance and gather enough kudos to get elected, but whether they will actually work to accomplish those goals after they gain status for the intent is anyone’s guess.

    Is it not the same when a corporation builds public image by marketing its noble intentions? Does anyone ever really hold them accountable?

    Personally, I prefer not to share my goals. Peer pressure and accountability checks demotivate me. I do much better on my own.

  • http://Rupertloydjr.wordpress.com Rupert Loyd Jr.

    Michael,
    I have some questions. First question, were “social people” distinguished from those less social in the research? Some folks are more likely to work better alone than in groups. Hence those in who did not announce their goal (who were not social) may be those predisposed to work best alone, thus the longer work time. Conversely those who work better in groups would naturally do less work alone.
    Second question. As Kurt Lewin demonstrated time and time again in his classic research, groups always have the potential to outperform individuals, even if it doesn’t always happen. Isn’t it likely that the announcing of a goal will likely improve the quality of the result as people “weigh-in” with ideas about how it can be done or even on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the goal?
    I must confess to my bias for interdependence, which,if I may be so bold, would seem to be bolstered by 1 Corinthians 12, wouldn’t you agree?

  • http://guymwilliams.net guy m williams

    I’ve experienced the effect of the mind mistaking talking for doing with my goals at times. I’m inclined to do a personal experiment on my goals.

  • http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com Frank Viola

    Interesting post, Michael. For me, it depends on the specific goal(s). For some goals, it’s helped me to give them a public voice. That has actually helped motivate me to stay with them until they were carried out. For other goals, wisdom dictated to keep them among close friends or even to myself. That’s how the terrain looks from my hill anyways; your mileage may vary.

  • http://tinaannforkner.wordpress.com/blog/ Tina F.

    Interesting. I can see how keeping some goals quiet might help. I know that if I talk too much about a story I want to write before I write it, the idea sometimes goes away. Once I’ve started writing it, sharing my word count and deadline goals pushes me to finish the story. It would be interesting to know if personality plays a role.

  • sjbarkley

    Personal goals to me are just that, personal. So these I keep to myself. It does not make any difference how many people I tell about my goals if I don’t have the personal desire and discipline to follow through. How many people have you heard say they are going to “get into shape”. They go on and on about going to the gym, jogging or whatever. But a month later they are doing nothing. All that talk did not help them at all.

    Corporate goals are totally different. Not sharing these goals with everyone is like putting 10 people in separate cars, telling them to just start driving, and then hoping they all end up at the same destination.

  • http://www.raycullins.com Ray Cullins

    I think personality may play into this. If you are a dreamer who thrives on positive feedback, but you struggle with execution, it may be more responsible to hold off going public with ideas until some tangible progress has been made– for instance, until the concept has been prototyped or field-tested a bit and an actionable plan is in place. I think it also depends on the context and reach of the idea or goal. Is it just a concept, with little impact on others at this stage? Sharing it now may actually be de-motivating because of that instant payoff. Is it a life goal that will radically impact you and those around you? It would be wise and responsible to be as public as the potential impact will be.

  • http://bringonthebooks.blogspot.com Jaymie

    I have heard similar advice for writers – don’t share your ideas before you get them on paper. It changes the energy of the idea and you lose momentum.

  • http://www.asgrandmasays.wordpress.com Judith Robl

    I have found that publicly declaring a goal results in a lot of interference. People ask for minute, blow-by-blow, details of my progress. If I am always justifying what I have done, I don’t have time to do what is next on the agenda.

    But my writing goals may be different from the goals you are talking about. Some things germinate better underground and in the dark than open to daylight. My farmer husband plants seeds. If he is always digging them up to see if they have germinated, they will never germinate. If he plants them and leaves them be, they come up with a bountiful yield.

    I believe ideas are like that. They need to be public only when they are closer to harvest.

  • http://davidteems.com David Teems

    I have a sign on my office door (on the inside, so I can see it as I leave). The letters are large and the sign reads: DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. As an author, original thought, or that first impulse of a dream is a priceless commodity. It must be approached with respect, awe, and a touch of dread at times. You don’t necessarily tiptoe around it, but to walk softly and circumspectly doesn’t hurt. It is exciting when it is within your power, and like anything exciting, you want to share it. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that by sharing something fresh and alive in your thought life you are giving it away. It deflates in a way, and when you return to it, as I have in the past, it has changed.

    Years ago I bounced a song title off of a friend. He laughed my song title to scorn, said you can’t use that. In my shrinking state, I shelved the song. 10 years later I revived the song, worked on it a bit, and made a better song out of it, even made it the title track to an album called SCARS AND STRIPES. I recorded it and once it was public, I was told by another friend that my title had been used by someone else. I did an internet search and my friend was right. And though I shouldn’t have been surprised, the musician who used my song title was the very guy who had originally laughed at my title. Needless to say, I WAS LIVID. I COULDN’T FUNCTION FOR DAYS. Rage is unhealthy in long bouts. Anyway, I learned a major lesson. DON’T GIVE IT AWAY. Nurse it, nurture it, father/mother it, tend it, guard it, protect it, until it is ready for public consumption.

    Such a strategy may be different in the business community. I suppose it is. You will have to judge by the context and by the nature of the goal or innovation. But for the artist, and for all my “won’t he ever shut up” kind of charm [that's why I write books now instead of songs], I had to post a sign that warns me every time I leave my office—DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. And trust me, it’s a difficult rule to follow. But it’s no longer yours when you do. You’ve given away the rights to it. It is a powerful lesson that every artist or innovator needs to learn. Innovation, or at least grand innovation, or great art, the jaw-dropping kind, is not a committee enterprise. Never has been. Never will be.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think this is a really important distinction, too. Artists and business people are different. Sometimes, they can co-exist in the same person, but I think the artistic process is mysterious and we would do well to respect it. Thanks, David.

  • Ben

    I’m not sure about everyone else, but many of my goals go through a prolonged incubation phase while I work through the details. I have found that if I share these goals before I have worked through the details, it is much easier for the people around me to shoot them down. Because of this, I started keeping a Google doc of all my goals and ideas. This gives me the chance to ask questions and discover answers at my own pace. It also helps to keep me moving forward on things. I review the document several times a week, so I’m constantly reminded of what needs to be accomplished. Once I have worked out a good plan, I start working on implementation. I usually start the work without much fanfare unless someone needs to know. If I do need to share the goal with someone, it is usually much easier to get the support I need to proceed since I have already worked out all of the details

    According the the experiments, the participants were given the opportunity to start working right after they decided on the goal and told it to someone else. I wonder what the results would look like if there was a third group that was able to start working on their goals before sharing them publicly.

  • aftermath

    I’m glad that you posted this. Your Goal Publicity is part of your belief system that I’ve never agreed with. To be fair, I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule. It depends on the context, person, and goal. Sometimes you should share, and sometimes you shouldn’t.

    Goal Silence is one of the first things I teach new clients. There are MANY MANY MANY reasons to keep your mouth shut, especially to those friends, family, and colleagues to whom you’re closest. However, there’s a big difference between goals and objectives, and I’ve found that making your objectives public not only leads to their more efficient achievement but also leads to more efficient goal achievement by extension.

    For example, don’t tell people that you’re trying to drop a few pounds. However, when you’re out at dinner, make it plain that “I don’t want dessert tonight” or “I just feel like a salad right now”. People will hold you accountable and take you more seriously when you take the corresponding action. These little acts will accumulate into the goal you want with far less internal or external resistance than you’d otherwise suffer.

  • http://www.peaceforthejourney.com elaine @ peace for the journey

    Depends on the “gain” for the individual.

    Accountability or pride. Either way, when a goal becomes public, it becomes “owned” by more than the individual with whom it originated. I’ve always found “owned” goals a bit trickier than those established between me and God.

    For what it’s worth…

  • Gini Dietrich

    I’m with quite a few of the commenters here…if I don’t make my goals public, I don’t achieve them. It’s the very Reason we keep a master spreadsheet of each person’s goals public at Arment Dietrich. We are able to hold one another accountable that way and there are never any surprises. We are always looking forward instead of behind because of it. I have no science to back up my claims. I just have experience.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think this maybe a situation where your experience triumphs what the research says. For starters, I don’t think the research is rigorous enough to justify a blanket conclusion. I think to whom we declare our goals, how we share them, and our personality types add some significant variables that need to be considered.

  • http://www.lantzhoward.com Lantz Howard

    Your willingness to try and explore the boundaries of growing as a leader is always an example.

    This year I published my story or goals to my close friends (4 guys) and so far I am doing ok, with reaching the goals. Not what I expected, but now I know.

    How is your current goal setting working for you? If it is working why change? Mine is not working as desired so I need to look for an alternate and this may be a possibility.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Should You Keep Your Goals to Yourself? -- Topsy.com

  • Akila

    I don’t know if this is at all connected with another interesting study I read about people with varying degrees of energy. So when you share the goal with people, the goal is less accomplished if some among them “are not with you” as in want you to fail or possess a certain negative energy.

    I did find this true in my life and as a result am a bit cautious of who I share it with !

    Akila

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.net Jeff Randleman

    Interesting thoughts, both in the post and in the comments. Much of what I’ve read here has me thinking along some new lines for my life…

    Historically, here is my goal-setting plan. First, I plan out my goals long-range, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, etc. I don’t get too detailed in my goals if they are further away in time; i.e. my 10 year goals are pretty general.

    After that, I go back and review my goals, breaking them down into smaller sub-goals. These get more specific. When it’s all said and done, I hang a list of my goals for the next three months on the wall directly over my laptop screen, at my desk. They are always in sight. And every three months, I review and update this page.

    I’ve found that breaking my yearly goals down into quarters helps me be more productive. And my longer-range goals get broken down into shorter time frames, eventually making their way, in pieces, into my quarterly goals.

    How vocal am I about my goals? That depends. Long range goals are very public. My wife and I are striving to be debt-free. I want to be a published author. And other goals… Those are 3, 5, 10 years out. People know those goals, because they are still in the vision/dream stages. And yet I’m still working in those directions, one step at a time.

    Shorter term? I keep these closer. My wife knows them. And if someone were to come around my desk, they could see my list on the wall… They’re not secret, but I don’t vocalize them. I journal about them a lot. A LOT. So they are always in the forefront of my mind.

    And so, my productivity is better since I have integrated this system into my life. Is it the best way? Probably not. Does it work for me? For now. As I continue to find new ideas that stand out to me, I try them. Hopefully the next ten years will be more productive for me than the last ten.

    I’m thankful that you post such thought-provoking topics. It is greatly appreciated. I hope that my input has contributed to the conversation in some small way.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for walking us through your goal-setting process. I think it is very beneficial to see how other leaders “do it.” Thanks again.

  • http://www.lynnrush.com Lynn Rush

    This is a surprising declaration. The video has got me thinking. . .

    Boy, but I sure am thankful for my three accountability partners with whom I share my goals. They constantly ask me if I’ve done them or am working on them and pray for me to stay focused. That’s been helpful.

    Interesting video . . . Thanks for this.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      He probably needs to make a distinction between what kind of sharing we do and to whom.

  • http://emilysutherland.wordpress.com/ Emily

    I don’t state my goals publicly, although I had no idea of the scientific research in favor of keeping them to oneself. My reason has been two-fold: 1) Every goal I’ve ever had, God topped so big-time that I felt silly for how small the original goal was. 2) Stating goals publicly can (in my opinion) can tend to taint everything I do with a self-promoting ick-factor.

    When we have a calling, that calling naturally prompts us to set goals to keep us progressing; yet so much of the best stuff I’ve had the privilege of doing has come through the unexpected opportunities that took me farther than my goals ever would’ve. Rather than state goals, I keep asking questions like, “Am I asking God to bless what I want to do, or am I following His lead knowing that His ways (and goals) are higher than mine?”

  • http://www.averageus.com Lon

    Hello,

    The research cited doesn’t seem rigorous enough, and thus at best can only indicate a trend or tendency of human nature, not a fact of each individuals’ experience. Some variables not accounted for:
    1. personality/character related to goal setting.
    2. past achievements in goal setting.
    3. person with whom the goal is shared. (e.g. did I tell an acquaintance or my spouse or my boss?)

    I’ll still be sharing my goals with 1) my journal, 2) my wife, 3) others as necessary. BTW – I’m planning to invent the first marketable hover craft by 2012. I’ll call it “The Jetson” and give you a free prototype.
    Thanks for this post.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree that it needs to be more rigorous. In fact, I suggested in an earlier comment than someone needs to do their dissertation on this.

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

    It’s a timing thing. I’m not sure if he and I have the same definition of goal. If desire to run a marathon, I wouldn’t declare that to anyone until I had a plan and started the execution of it = that’s when it moves from desire to a goal. Goal setting to me is like conceiving a child. There’s a period of intimacy that nobody knows about until it’s confirmed your pregnant. I know married couples that waited until the 1st trimester was over before telling our friends of their pregnancy.

    After a goal is made then tell only those people who will help keep you accountable. 3 years ago, when I started reclaiming my health and losing lots of weight I told only my doctor who I saw on a quarterly basis & trainer. They were my accountability partners. Nobody else really needed to know.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a good distinction, Laurinda. I think you are probably right.

  • Ben

    Great question Michael! I’ve always taken the “go public” approach to goal setting but I’m re-thinking this too now. I think you have to cast vision all the time with your team, but how to be more successful with personal goals is something I think we all wrestle with.

    I wonder if you set some personal goals but had a 3 or 6 month “reveal” event where you shared with a small group what you actually did. Would a blend of private with accountability be even more effective? I know I have been most effective at losing weight (difficult goal) when I have had accountability for my goal (deadline, incentive, ongoing check-ins). Without accountability, my goals seem to languish.

    This might be a bit beside the point, but it speaks more towards an organization reaching their objectives. There’s a book called “Art of the Start” that makes a case for using different language for your team, church, business (insiders) and who you’re serving (those you’re recruiting to your team). He describes these terms as a mantra (what you talk about all the time with your team) and a tag line (distilled from your mantra but easy to remember — like, “just Do It” by Nike. Great tag lines force you to be against an idea or for it).

  • http://www.raitheoshow.com Matt Raithel

    Public announcement creates accountability for me. I hate to fail, but I hate even more to fail publicly in the eyes of people I admire. So I deliberately pass my goals out there to make sure I don’t disappoint.

    One vote for “make it public”.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s what I have done in the past, too, and it has worked. But I wonder if I would have even more motivation if I had kept the goals private. Not sure.

  • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com Anne Marie

    Very interesting post. I have heard that you shouldn’t talk about a book you are writing as you are writing it. But beside that, I have had great results in having an ‘accountability partner’ in which I tell her what I plan to do in the very short term (that evening or over the coming weekend) and then she comes up with a punishment that will happen if I don’t do what I told her I would. I’ve only been punished once. I am not disciplined enough to just tell myself I am going to do something, something else usually comes up to distract me. But if I tell her, then it’s more set in stone. I know I have to do it because I don’t want to be punished!

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

  • http://www.7sistershomeschool.com Sabrina Justison

    Aren’t there levels of “announcement”? I find tremendous accountability when I announce goals to the people I’ve learned to trust for teamwork, challenge, and support. They will hold my feet to the fire, and help me announce further when I’ve reached the goal and need to broadcast publicly. But I see the problem in folks who are all talk, who are quick to announce to the world what perhaps they should only announce to their teammates.

  • http://www.therextras.com BarbaraBoucher PTPhD

    “Perhaps, the application is that you don’t share the goal with outsiders.”

    Perhaps you are correct. I am interested in where your ‘mull’ leads you.

  • http://twitter.com/marcosperez Marcos Perez

    HO-LY-COW. This topic hit me between the eyes. I can give you several personal examples of why Derek is spot on. The most applicable is, my goal of writing a book. I have had two specific ideas (good ones I might add) that I shared with various peers and friends. After talking about the ideas for a period of time, I had such a strong sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from talking and exploring the idea verbally–that I NEVER DID IT. The right approach? Shut up and write. The pleasure I got from the ego trip allowed me to experience a sense of pay-off, for a sacrifice I never made. My next example would be exercise…but I won’t go there. Bottom line is that on an individual basis, I could not agree more with Derek.

    Corporately, sharing goals outside of the building is risky simply because you are talking about potential–which is everything you haven’t done yet, and in this age–can change at any moment. But I do believe goals should be clearly communicated internally. Employees are not mind readers and need to know where the ship is going in order for everyone to move in the same direction.

    • http://www.kinderboost.com Michael Gray

      I’ve been there. People still ask me, “So, how’s that book coming along?” and I can only shrug my shoulders and wonder why I ever opened my big mouth to begin with.

      I like your phrase, “shut up and write”. We could use “shut up and ___________” for so many things in life.

      • Gaylene Carpenter

        I love what David says in 1 Chronicles 28:20a “Be strong and courageous and do the work.” (NLT) I, too have been there. I have an idea for a devotional book and talk about it, but have yet sat down and “did the work”.

        In some aspect, I don’t mind telling others my goals, but I do not like sharing my dreams. Is there a difference? Yes, in my mind- goal are dreams with feet.. work has begun on the goals, where dreams are yet to be moved upon. Possible in the business world? That is questionable.

      • http://twitter.com/marcosperez Marcos Perez

        I agree. That phrase could work in many aspects of life. :-)

  • Jonathan Jones

    Thanks for posting this. Somehow I’ve missed this one on ted.com.

    While his point is compelling and worth consideration, I think what impressed me the most was the presentation was under 3 and a half minutes! A good lesson for those of us who present.

  • http://www.kinderboost.com Michael Gray

    For my own part, I tend to get that bizarre “psychological satisfaction of accomplishing the goal without having to actually do the work” thing, and it’s devastating. I need much less talking/planning/dreaming and much more doing.

  • @lindseygilstrap

    I actually watched that TED video last month and used it as an excuse on my Fitness Forum for not going to the gym. I had posted to all the members on the Forum that I had joined a gym and how proud I was. Ten days later I still had not went back to work out. I posted a link to that video as a comment on my original post about joining. I thought it was pretty great research, but my Eval8 Coach didn’t think it applied to well to exercise goals. I must still think that it does because I still have not gone back to the gym! :)

  • melliott

    Apple has put $51 billion USD in the bank by not publicly sharing their goals, or even privately with anyone not directly involved with accomplishing them. That seems to speak volumes to the idea of keeping them private.

  • @johnnydye

    I just listen to a recent podcast by Rick Warren that said quite the opposite. his point was concerning faith. it takes more faith to acknowledge it publicly. because of the risk involved… risk of failure, risk of criticism, risk of being judged, risk of being humiliated if you don’t reach the goal. So you really must believe that God is going to come through even if it looks impossible. He also mentioned that it honored God when we make big goals. He said that secret faith is shallow faith. so maybe when it comes to ministry or spiritual Kingdom aspects faith is more important than psychological aspect.

  • http://www.passionaustralia.org/blog Dave Quinn

    I have actually noticed that with some people in the past. Once they tell others it seems to dilute the efforts for the next stage. One in particular wanted to lose 20 kilograms in weight(40 pounds). They lost 5 kilograms and everyone really praised them. Then suddenly the extra 15 didn’t seem as important.
    PS. Loved the geek advertisement at the end of the video. Brilliant!

  • cicero

    Interesting…I trust that I have the fortitude to work toward a goal regardless of whether others know about it or not….and I hope that accomplishing that goal provides a better and a longer lasting satisfaction than simply talking about it.

  • http://kbhyde.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/what-to-do-whe…now-what-to-do/ Katherine Hyde

    My usual practice is to tell only those people who (a) need to know, because pursuing the goal will change my life in ways that will affect them; (b) share the same or a similar goal and can provide mutual support; or (c) are in a position to help me achieve the goal. Sometimes that means I don’t tell anyone; sometimes it means I tell half a dozen people. And I generally tell them all in the “kick my butt” way Sivers refers to.

    I think you’re right about the organizational application: keep it in the family.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    This is a very good post… I like stuff that causes one to think.

    Personally, I am with you… I think that goals should be publicized because of accountablility. You are definitely more likely to achieve it when you have a bunch of people pushing you towards it.

  • http://larryhehn.com Larry Hehn

    Looking back at my own experiences and observation of others, I agree with Mr. Sivers’ assessment. I like the way he clarified how to state your goals without tricking yourself into believing that you have already achieved them. I also like the little commercial at the end of the video! Thanks, Michael.

  • Brad

    I traditionally don’t announce my goals to anyone but if they are important to me they will get done. In the past new years resolutions never came to fruition.

  • http://www.karlprosser.com/coder Karl Prosser

    i wonder if you can keep it to yourself but have accountibility with people by saying “i’m committed to finishing my project X by this date” and have them check up on you. Getting the best of both worlds. I think however for certian things keeping it to yourself reduces the advantage that you have from synergizing with others, or even getting inspired

  • http://daughtersheart.wordpress.com AymieJoi

    I know that I have yet to achieve any of the goals I’ve ever talked about out loud. In fact, I’ve often thought that I really need to keep my mouth shut about things I want to do until I actually do them. Now I have the psychology to back that up. (Perhaps if, like Sabrina, I (and the “talkers” in the study) had people to hold me accountable to my goals, I might actually see them accomplished. Hmm…)

    And I definitely think the application for organizations is that they ought to keep the goals internal until enough has been done toward achieving them that they are no longer just goals, they’re reality. If for no other reason, it keeps potential competition from getting the jump on an idea.

  • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

    I think there are many different factors that go into play with goal setting. Different people are motivated in different ways. For some having a secret that no one else knows about could be a motivator. I know that I sometimes work harder when no one knows what it is that I am doing. Being accountable to others could act as a distraction too with everyone checking in on you. When stating your goal publicly everyone knows when you fail. If you don’t tell anyone you’re the only one who knows. Maybe the reason people fail after announcing a goal is because that is what everyone expects. I think I will have to do some experimenting too.

  • http://www.takechargesolutions.org Marcia Francois

    I think it depends on the type of person you are.

    I am highly motivated by accountability so I tell my goals to all and sundry SO THAT I’m motivated to get moving on them.

  • Lucy

    I thought of your post previously on accountability and surrounding yourself with the best people when I saw this video. The argument is compelling, however short lived. Yes there is positive responses received but only up to a point. If you tell your mind you will accomplish ‘x’ then announce to your circle of influence that you will accomplish it, how could they not be happy for you?! But if you are telling them again and again that you are ‘going to’ then your mind will surely remind you that you are becoming a broken record and action is required to follow the words…

  • http://www.sharing-skills.blogspot.com/ Taleb

    I believe that keeping your goals as secrets till the achievements themselves tell the story of success is a good idea.

    But I see that we can tell few people if they have specific characteristic, so they will be a good supporter for us (but if they don’t have these characteristics keep it as secret better).
    Suggested characteristics:

    1- Tell the people who support you (Not who loves you), sometimes you find that your mother, for example, although she loves & worry about you, she frustrates you because she wants you to take rest & not to be overloaded or to see you more beside her…etc.
    2- Tell people who like challenges.
    3- Tell people who aren’t feeling jealousy towards you.
    4- Tell wise people who are wise so when you are frustrated, they will take your hand & support.
    5- Tell people who are honest, they will not take your ideas & show off…etc.
    6- Tell who will share you the goal in future steps, then he can support more.

    The goals of the organizations could be a secret between the team better, as many competitors are ready to take the other goals to do, or to harm you when you want to achieve.

    Note:
    Mr. Micheal
    I really appreciate that you declare that you changing your idea about this issue, & I believe this (listening to others) is a very important characteristic you have so you are a successful leader.

    Sorry for long comment
    Thank you

  • http://www.sharing-skills.blogspot.com Taleb

    I believe that keeping your goals as secrets till the achievements themselves tell the story of success is a good idea.

    But I see that we can tell few people if they have specific characteristic, so they will be a good supporter for us (but if they don’t have these characteristics keep it as secret better).

    Suggested characteristics:
    1- Tell the people who support you (Not who loves you), sometimes you find that your mother, for example, although she loves & worry about you, she frustrates you because she wants you to take rest & not to be overloaded or to see you more beside her…etc.
    2- Tell people who like challenges.
    3- Tell people who aren’t feeling jealousy towards you.
    4- Tell wise people who are wise so when you are frustrated, they will take your hand & support.
    5- Tell people who are honest, they will not take your ideas & show off…etc.
    6- Tell who will share you the goal in future steps, then he can support more.

    The goals of the organizations could be a secret between the team better, as many competitors are ready to take the other goals to do, or to harm you when you want to achieve.

    Note:
    Mr. Micheal
    I really appreciate that you declare that you changing your idea about this issue, & I believe this (listening to others) is a very important characteristic you have so you are a successful leader.

    Sorry for long comment
    Sorry if I duplicate because I could not see my comment
    Thank you

  • http://fghart.wordpress.com FGHart

    One significant point of caution comes to mind as I consider this “lesson” for individuals – Derek Sivers is only addressing one step in the process. In your argument FOR publicly announcing your goal (step 4) this is only one step in a process. If Dr. Gollwitzer’s study included small team accountability, it might have had a significant impact on the outcome.

    One takeaway that I really like is the idea of announcing the action plan rather than the goal. In the example he gives (something like “I need to train by running 5 times a week and kick my @$$ if I don’t”)there’s an action plan and accountability implied. It seems like focusing on the action plan might even apply to the process of managing corporate goals.

  • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

    I found this post very interesting. Husband and I are on the Dave Ramsey plan. We are busting through Baby Step 2 – get out of debt. With a lot of work and determination, we’ve almost paid half in a year and a half. Unfortunately, it’s easy to tell people are goal of being debt free by Christmas 2011. It seems more possible and probably with every person we tell. It often even feels like we are ALREADY debt free.

    But then we have a budget meeting and– whoa! What’s this? We are still in debt?! And still more than halfway with only a little over a year to get er done! (gulp) I’d like to show our goal with our actions than talk any more about it.

  • http://ottoastorga.blogspot.com/ Otto

    Like all studies (generalization), somethings apply to some part of the population and others don’t.

    What needs to happen is that each one of us needs to find out which type of person we are. Some may thrive by announcing their goals others not at all.

    Applying the results to 100% of individuals is what makes things not work. Most of the time I’ve never told people what I’m attempting to achieve, in other occasions it seems like I needed to.

    Find your mix!

  • http://ipickred.blogspot.com kristin

    I believe as humans we can use our awareness, intelligence, and free will to counteract instinct.

    One of my wise instructors said once that we must get away from wanting. Why? Because we pour all of our energy into the wanting leaving no energy for action to move us toward the manifestation of the goal.

    It doesn’t mean not wanting or setting goals, it means not getting caught up in the wanting and daydreaming and talking up of the want/goal and instead focusing on creating the want/goal.

    It’s an easy trap to fall into, but I believe we are blessed with intelligence and the ability to decide; so, we can choose to both announce a goal and focus our energies to achieve the goal.

  • http://timemanagementninja.com Craig (@TMNinja)

    Michael,

    Mixed on this one. I do see how some people use the “announcement” of their goals as progress…and then stop. I have seen people who take announcing something as “completing it.”

    However, I would like more details on the classroom study that was referenced.

    The thing that hits me right off is that a simple classroom task assignment… that has no direct meaning to the participant… is not the same as a personal goal that will take much effort… life changes… and months to complete. Does not seem to be a relative comparison.

    But a good debate, nonetheless.

  • http://www.simplicitypost.com Jørgen Sundgot

    I believe it may not be a case of either/or – rather, it could be both, depending on personality types. One possible perspective is introvert/extrovert; another is confident/inconfident.

    In my experience, however, progress is generally stimulated either through genuine passion or by pressure, the latter of which can be positive or negative – think reward and punishment, or bonuses and deadlines if you will.

    On an organizational level, external pressure is the preferred method since just about anyone is capable of setting a deadline, which also comes with two other benefits: measurability, and the subsequent production of positively pitiful PowerPoint presentations (sorry about the alliteration, sometimes I can’t help myself).

    Here’s a challenge: try graphing the passion level within your organization and present it in PowerPoint format. I dare you.

    Genuine passion is HARD to come by, and doesn’t fit into square boxes. That’s why it’s not widely used in organizations.

    On a personal level, it’s far easier to exploit passion – but all of us could use a little nudge every now and then, which is why, regardless of your personality type, openly announced goals should come with a deadline attached.

    Failing all else, I’ve seen more than enough cases where pending public humiliation has served as a sufficient motivational factor to get to done.

  • http://www.l-dwag.blogspot.com Larissa Vogelaar

    It’s really interesting thought. I used to think that by voicing my opinion I was creating accountability, but I have noticed how that had not in fact helped at all. Working on my goals, and being very select about the few people I voice my new goals to. We will see.

  • http://curtismarshall.tumblr.com Curtis Marshall

    I think that the revealing of goals is a matter of timing. As Derek describes, telling someone a goal before you have accomplished it has the potential of causing more harm than good. However, I think that sometimes we need to reveal our goals while IN THE MIDDLE of a project in order to jumpstart our creativity or even just because we need some encouragement.

  • Pingback: Links for October 31 2010 | Eric D. Brown

  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    At first I was skeptical of what Sivers was proposing, but as the brief talk progressed it made a lot of sense.

    I can remember a few instances in my life where I have shared a goal, enjoyed the praise for making the commitment to try, and then failed to follow through.

    Like you I’m not sure how this applies to an organization, but as an individual contributor maybe this concept of keeping my goals to myself plays out in the performance review process.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Should You Keep Your Goals to Yourself? -- Topsy.com

  • Glenn Smith

    Goal sharing in business is a must. If you don’t know what your managers yearly Performance Management goals are, how do you know you’re effectively working to help them reach them and not in the other direction.

    My experience is though that most managers don’t share them and you have to guess what they are, which never works. I have found being transparent with my directs works well. They know what goals are exclusive to them and which are shared ones. This ultimately the shared ones across the entire team and me get more due care and attention; which in my opinion is the right thing to do.

    Now personally where you don’t have your own manager who will kick you to get things completed I could see how this could work. I’d like to think I’m quite motivated but can still see examples where this has followed true. Although there are times when not, as sometimes once I set my mind to something, don’t try to stop me as I’m like a speeding train.

  • Pingback: Should you keep your goals to yourself? « Writing Is The Easy Part

  • Anonymous

    I will be interested to hear your further thoughts on this concept. Since you posted this, I have been paying attention to it. I have found that just talking about a goal, whether personal or organizational, gives you a feeling of accomplishment. It may affect different personality types in different, but I do think we might sometimes short-circuit our goals by talking about them.

  • Pingback: Chris Morton » Blog Archive » No Goals in 2011?

  • Pingback: John Weldon » Blog Archive » Happy 2011

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    It all depends. To whom you tell and what you tell. Going public has different implication under different context. In case of your personal goals, there can be no harm in sharing your goals with dear and near ones. But, when it comes to your office peers and superiors, you need to be careful. When you declare something, you become transparent and vulnerable. Therefore, when someone is keen on pulling your legs, it is better to keep your goals to yourself and tell them after you achieve the same. For it is said in Proverbs 12:23 that “a prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.” Therefore, use your discretion and tell your goals to someone only when that person is trustworthy and it will benefit you in the end. Otherwise, going public will bring more obstacles in our journey rather than assistance or comfort.

  • Nancy

    This one I am mulling over too. I am leaning towards sharing with the team. Yet at the same time I am thinking of a church, where the leadership allowed the entire congregation to be involved in vision casting and goal setting. I was extended the opportunity to review the outcome of this when it was in its final stages. Although I am an outsider looking in as I wrote my review I noted as I followed this church that it seems the majority of the body of Christ within this church is on board with the goals. My belief is this happened, because they feel ownership for the goals. As I write this I am thinking this through. I am arriving at the conclusion that each case is different.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      After thinking about this for a few months (since I wrote this post). I have concluded that I keep my private goals private and my team ones public.

  • Pingback: Should your goals be public or private? | The Simplicity Post

  • Elizabeth York

    This is a really interesting topic, and I love to read people’s perspectives on whether to vocalize your goals or not. To see what I think check out http://elizabethyork.com/should-you-tell-people-your-goals

  • Josephjohnson2000wattz

    do not broadcast your  goals its as simple as that,if you go around telling people hey i’m gonna do this in a months time,i’m gonna buy a new car,i’m gonna be  expecting  $300,000  in a month, all you are doing is jinxing your self and when time comes turns out your deal did int fall through ,you didn’t end up buying the car and now you look stupid in front of all those people . my own method is to  surprise people ,always be unpredictable in your success, seeing is believing ,action speaks louder than words . accomplish your goals and people will see it for themselves ,talk is cheap,action speaks louder than words, this method has worked for me every time and it can for you too. never expose your goals just keep it simple stupid ,act like a fool now and reap the rewards later, power comes after humility.

  • Pingback: Talking versus Doing « authortianajohnson

  • Ray Tadros

    More evidence - http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/10/why-you-should-keep-your-goals-secret.php

  • Pingback: 2012: The Shape of Things to Come « Benjamin Cheah

  • Pingback: #004: Seven Steps to Thinking Bigger [Podcast] | Michael Hyatt

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398138107 Dale William Melchin

    I have long term anecdotal evidence of this being true in my own life as well as true in the lives of members of my family.  If you have a goal, only discuss it with those with whom you need to help you achieve it, and like the speaker said be careful with how you word it to those in your circle.

  • DarcyWiley

    There’s a particular person in my life who talks a lot about big visionary plans for his future, but never accomplishes them. He’s the poster child of this concept, with his losing momentum by gabbing instead of doing.

    On another note, I remember my husband mentioning his dream job awhile back. He didn’t say anything to anyone but me, and the nature of the conversation made it feel like he was thinking ten years or so down the road. Lo and behold, two months later he had secured an apprenticeship of sorts, worked that one for a year and then ventured out on his own where he’s been churning out amazing projects for 8 years. He tells people about their works when they are on the way to fruition, but usually not before they’re sprouted.

    I think it’s good to mention a goal to a few trusted teammates, but some people talk about what they’re GOING to do as if their vision alone lends them credibility. And then, the attention/respect they get from having the idea takes the steam out of it.

    I just came across a passage about Coleridge in Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. Check out pages 76-77 and you’ll find that Coleridge seemed to talk himself out of productivity to the point that many of his ideas never made it to the page.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing this. It reminds me of a quote I heard a while back, ”You can’t build a reputation on what you are GOING to do.” I even wrote a post on it.

  • sg

    In trying to compare this to what will work in the enterprise, this study is fundamentally flawed. There is no jeopardy for not completing the task and no particular reward for getting it done (beyond self gratification, which is what the speaker suggests is achieved without actually doing the task by saying it out loud). In the work place public success brings kudos, promotion and financial reward, public failure brings shame, financial loss and potentially worse. I don’t think there can be a question about what works inside companies and it isn’t lots of people hiding and not communicating and hoping they do okay.

  • Pingback: Why your New Year’s Resolution will fail – Pt. 2 | Bad News Everyone!

  • sobaek

    I talked with my brother a couple of weeks ago about this, an we both exeriensed that if you tell people what you are going to do before you do it, you get the feeling that you already done it. A couple of weeks later i saw this tedtalk and got it confirmed.
    But I think that it is about how much and how detailed your reveal your goal. Example, if you say your are going to be a millionare, that will motivate you because people dont belive it and therefore you still got to prove you can. But if you reveal HOW your going to do it, and its a good stradegi, they will react positive and you will lose your drive and get sort of a bad feeling for teling you secret goal before it happen, cuz its still kind of a small reaction. But also becouse, now when you reach your goal, it wont be a suprise an therfore you wont get the same WOW reaction, as if they wearent expecting it of you.. 

    Sorry for my bad english, im from Denmark. Hope you get what I was trying to say :)

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Sobaek,

      Which TED talk were you watching? Link please. Thank you!

  • tom rose

    Who cares what anyone THINKS.  Opinions are powerful influences on our behaviour, but they are often wildly incorrect. Opinion is only valuable if it is backed up by well designed experiments, quality reasoning, and sufficient data to show that the conclusions are not a statistical anomaly.

  • Joseph Allen

    I see the value in keeping your goals to yourself. I’d like to see a study that takes into account peoples reactions to the announced goals. I have a personal goal that most people seem to actively advise against. As a result I do not get the sense of satisfaction mentioned in the video. Personally it drives me to work harder and make sure I do exactly what I set out to do and disregard what people say. But my experience is anecdotal. A study that splits the “announced” group into two sections (positive and negative reactions from the public) and recorded the progress on their goal would reveal more interesting information.

  • Ginger Ging

    Notice that the experiment does not record how many members of either group actually reached their goals, but only how long they each worked towards it on one occasion and how close they felt to achieving their goal at the end of that particular session. To me the conclusion of the test seems rushed and, well, inconclusive…

  • Jason Wright

    I’m not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but the study seemed to be on very short term goals. I wonder if there is a study done on telling people about long term goals and how that effect achieving them. Also, I’m curious if the people who told their goal actually accomplished more towards their goal in the allotted timeframe than those who didn’t tell and felt like they had a long ways to go still. One more thought on the topic, is that they told someone their goal and immediately started working on it. If they waited for the initial satisfaction of telling someone to wear off, I believe the accountability piece then would kick in to accomplish their goal