First Rule To Achieve A Goal : Don’t Talk About It

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Lets say, you have a test coming up tomorrow, you’re going back home from college with your friends, fussing about how you haven’t studied enough for it. If you’re one like every other person, while concluding the discussion you would obviously say, “Bhai ghar jaakar aaj teeno chapter nipta lungi/lunga!”. We all know, this doesn’t happen and we end up watching videos on Youtube, sleeping and bwaaah, ultimately do it in the last few hours while our eyes die for sleep (I feel you, don’t worry).

What was my point?

It was that announcing your goals can do more harm to you than good and it also decreases the chances of you achieving it.

What is the one thing that is stopping you to believe what I just said? It is accountability, right? Most people think that it’s common to tell someone about the goals you’re planning to achieve¬†and by doing this you’re creating an external motivator for yourself who would help you achieve it. (friends, siblings, teachers etc). But that’s not how things work ! Trust me.

Not because people don’t care for you, but because in reality, everyone is busy dealing with their stuff in life that they aren’t left with time to keep you accountable after all. They’ll pat you on the back and congratulate you enough when you achieve it but no one would call you up to check if you’d eaten pizza or well a salad for dinner? Come on, even you don’t have the time to do that for anyone, accept it.

However, that’s actually not the main reason why you shouldn’t disclose your goals to the¬†public. the main reason is Science. (wait for it…)

Psychological researchers have been studying the intention-behavior gap, and the stuff that affects it, since the 1920’s. We as humans have tons of dreams, goals, and fantasies. We are also (usually) smart enough to see the first steps we need to take in order to achieve these goals. Oftentimes, the first step is right in front of us, yet mostly we seem to have trouble actually taking that first step. And the steps after that are taken even less frequently. That’s why those psychologists call it the intention-behavior gap.

Peter Gollwitzer and some other researchers at NYU released a paper in 2009 entitled, “When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?” In this paper, they explain the findings of their research on the effects of announcing one’s goals on the intention-behavior gap.

In this experiment,they chose two groups and assigned them certain goals/ tasks to achive. The first group claimed their goals publically while the second stayed shut about it.

Research suggested, that when asked about their progress report, the group that kept shut worked for 45 min (nearly) and stated in the end that lots more still had to be covered to achieve the goal, while the second group worked for only 33 min (average) and when asked, sounded more confident, said they were too close to achieving it, whereas in reality, they made little progress.

So what’s the crux of it?

When you announce your goal to someone you respect and you get affirmation from them, you feel a sense of contentment and satisfaction, like you’ve taken a step towards achieving it already, even though you havent done anything. That’s called social reality.

Entrepreneur Derek Sivers in his TED Talk, gave his advice, “you should resist the temptation to announce your goal, delay the gratification that the social acknowledgement brings and understand that your mind mistakes the talking for the doing. 

It helps to frame your goals in terms of the work you need to put in rather than the identity you want to assume with it. 

So next time just say, I’m gonna try my best to not waste time today, or exercise for a while or maybe procrastinate less, rather than announcing in public what you aim at doing in specific, you may end up achieving it this time.

Good luck !

Image source- Google
Image source- Google

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