If you’re anything like me, you enjoy telling people about your goals because it adds accountability. My Facebook feed is evidence that I am not alone in this belief. Scrolling through my updates on January 2nd, I was faced with countless goals, promises, and resolutions from my friends of everything from weight loss, to business aspirations, to habit breaking. In my time management seminars, I advocate for loud and proud goal-sharing as a way to strengthen your motivation, commitment and accountability. It worked for me, I’ve seen it work for other people, and I believe in the benefits.
Then I came across this TED talk about goal setting that caused me to question my belief. Essentially, Derek Sivers says that telling people about your goals makes you less likely to achieve them because the act of articulating your intentions satisfies your desire to follow through with them. In other words, telling other people you’re going to get organized makes you feel more organized, and therefore have less of a sense of urgency to actually get organized.
I find it difficult to accept that goal sharing is never useful, because as I said, I’ve seen it work countless times, but Derek presents a strong case. Instead, I offer these tips to share goals effectively.
1. Tell Your Friends How to Help You
When we share our goals, the assumption is that the people you tell can help you. Don’t just assume. Ask for a specific action. For example, instead of telling your friend, “I’m going to exercise every day,” say “I’m going to exercise every day, and if you ever hear me complain about it, please pull me off the couch.” Or “I’m trying to grow my business this year, so when you see me, please ask how it’s going to keep me accountable.”
2. Find a Friend With A Similar Goal
Friends and family are great support networks, but sometimes the best support comes from people who are working toward the same goal as you. Seek out friends and family who are striving to accomplish the same things and ask if you can sit down together and develop a plan. This provides both support and accountability.
3. Share the Results
If you’re afraid that public goal setting will make you less motivated to follow through, start with just sharing your results. When you accomplish a goal, no matter how small, tell your close friends and family. Sometimes we’re afraid to do this lest it be construed as bragging, but there is a difference between bragging and celebrating. Telling a friend what you accomplished, and what you plan to do next can provide support and encouragement to keep going. For example, “I finished this week with an empty inbox! Next week, I’m going to work on staying more focused while I’m working.”
Incidentally, it is my one of my goals, to give a TED talk some day (similar to the one in the video above), but I suppose now that I’ve told you about it, I can kiss that dream goodbye!
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