Resolution Schmresolution: Why You Should Quit Telling Everyone Your Goals

Everybody is talking about resolutions and goals this week.

Sadly, they are probably the same goals they were talking about this time last year and the year before that. You’re lucky if you even remember your resolutions by March, let alone stick with them.

Determined to make your big goal stick this year? You might want to try keeping your mouth shut.

Why You Should Keep Your Goals to Yourself

Have you ever told a friend or family member something you are going to do and they commend you simply for announcing your goal? Like, before you even do anything?

You:Starting Monday, I’m going to work out/drink green juice/journal/meditate every day.

Friend:Wow that’s great! Good for you!

It feels good right? Getting that recognition? That little supportive boost?

Well, that boost can also mean that your goals don’t stand a chance.

Derek Sivers points out in his TED talk that “telling someone your goals make them less likely to happen“.

Psychological tests have shown that when people congratulate you on your goals, you feel a sense of satisifaction as if you’ve already achieved them.  So you don’t work as hard to reach them.  Check out the 3-min video below:

So if you must tell someone, tell it in a way that won’t give you any satisfaction (i.e. “you need to be on my ass about getting to the gym 5 days per week!”)

What do you want to achieve? What’s the one big thing that will propel you forward – in your health, your career, your relationship? Write it down. Get at it.

Then, come back and brag to us about it later.

What do you think of this approach? Have you noticed that high you get when you tell someone your big goals (before you’ve achieved them)? Do you think that the accountability that comes along with announcing your resolutions is crucial for your success? Leave a comment and let me know what has been essential for you to reach your goals (but don’t tell me your goals!).

Happy New Year!

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15 Responses to Resolution Schmresolution: Why You Should Quit Telling Everyone Your Goals

  1. I completely agree about not telling people your goals…I think it’s better to save the satisfaction for when you actually do it. I put some incentives on my goals to make sure I achieve them, like I get to take a vacation if I do it and I if I don’t I have to donate to some organization that I hate. It usually works!

    • I like the idea of incentives Katie – I think they are especially helpful for those who are very self-motivated. I do think that accountability is helpful too – as long as you’re sharing goals with the right people who will hold you accountable, not just pump you up for doing nothing!

  2. I’m actually going to disagree – I think sharing goals is a really important step that helps with accountability.

    However, I think it’s important WHO you’re going to share your goals with. Sharing your fitness goals with someone who is overweight and never exercises is likely to get you that “good for you” slash “wow I wish I were as motivated as you” response. But sharing them with someone who is twice as strong as you with a better body is likely to give yourself that extra accountability most people need, and less pre-satisfaction.

    Keeping goals to yourself makes it easy for you to write them off as if they never existed, that one day that your willpower fails.

    So I say SHARE! Just do it with the right people 🙂

    • I agree it depends on who you are sharing your goals with and I think it’s important to find people who will actually hold you accountable – not just applaud you for stating a goal. I’ve seen people get all pumped up an inspired at conference, come up to the mike and announce some amazing initiative they are going to start and get a round of applause. Then, months later you find out they didn’t do anything! Much better to find a coach or accountability group that will give you a little kick in the ass when you need it.

    • I know. I hate it when a friend makes a bold statement, saying they’re going on this huge “hollywood/designer” diet, and walk around with smoothies all day, and on the side, when nobody is looking (or so they think), wolf down 10 slices of pizza. Completely agree with you Brian!

  3. Hmm its an interesting one – I find that if I am not really motivated to do something then no amount of encouragement or ‘kicks’ is going to get me there – in fact it just makes me beligerent! I also tend not to announce any such goals and just get on with it as announcing such intentions never really gives me satisfaction – as they say talk is cheap!

  4. I agree with you. Sometimes it is best to keep it to yourself, at least until you develop a plan, put it into action, and are well on your way to reaching a goal. At least that works for me. My boyfriend and I often comment to one another that to share a potentially life – changing resolution or goal is the best way (at least for us) to sabotage our success.
    Unfortunately, I feel most sabotage their success by making resolutions that are far too broad or vague. Stating that you are going to loose 20 pounds this year is an admirable aspiration, but without a plan to achieve that goal, you will surely fail. A better statement might be ton say you are going to go to the gym three days a week, or you are going to eliminate an item or two from your current diet and replace those items with a better choice.
    Of course I’m not saying anything here that you don’t already know. This is just what has worked for me.
    I stumbled upon this site just this morning, and so far, I am enjoying your posts and writing. Thank you.

    • Hi Chris – great to have you here! Totally agree – a goal without a plan (and without scheduling it) is pretty much worthless!

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