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Maybe we should all keep our goals to ourselves?

Posted by newms, in Advice 06 October 2010 · 421 views

In this TED talk, Derek Sivers argues that by sharing our goals with others we are giving ourselves a feeling of getting it done, when in fact, we are no closer to actually accomplishing our goal. This feeling of getting closer to your goal hurts your chances of actually reaching your goal since you find yourself less motivated than you should be, thinking that you're closer than you actually are. Listening to this talk got me thinking about my immediate goal of getting to grad school. Does sharing that goal with others make me feel closer to my goal, when I should in fact be working a lot harder than I am to get to that goal? I don't know, but thinking about it definitely makes me want to work harder at what I need to do to get it done (like finishing my SoP and preparing for the GRE subject test). What do you think?





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That depends on people. Some likes to broadcast any possibilities as warranted outcome while some prefers to be cautions and only discuss with reservation. I guess this guy's point is the sense of satisfaction after achieving a goal is one major source of motivation. Sharing it with others too early is like reading the ending of a novel first. The best part has been enjoyed. Then what is left to drive one to go through all the frustration and challenges?
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I certainly can see where he is coming from, and I think that intrinsic motivation is incredibly important - if you don't want to do something for yourself, if it doesn't matter enough to you that you will do anything to get it done on your own steam, then maybe you shouldn't do it. But then again, life can get in the way; we can get bogged down and we can lose sight of the goal. In my case, when I share a goal with someone, it's like a checks and balance - I'm fairly certain I'm going to reach that goal before I say anything about it, but once I do, that holds me accountable, because my total fear of failure and looking like an idiot with egg on my face is enough to get me through the most insurmountable challenges.

I am, however, strangely selective in terms of who I share my goals with, and when. With super top secret goals, I don't share until I have a good degree of certainty that I have met or will imminently be meeting that goal. With goals such as this one, grad school, I share with my DH and a few close friends - but my mother and sister don't know anything about this (because my sister's response when I told her I was considering grad school last year was "Why the f- would you do that? You're just going to destroy your family. You can't just birth kids and then leave them to raise themselves while you traipse off to classes to meet a personal goal. You should have thought of that before you had kids!" I clearly don't need to be sharing my closest hopes and dreams with my immediate family...

In this case, I'm sharing my goals and a lot of private information on this board - but in this case, it's also for the greater good. I come from a long line of people who believe in serving others. If something I think, feel, do or have thought, felt or done can help someone else achieve his or her hopes and dreams, then that trumps my need for privacy. So here, on the boards, or in my blog online, I will actually divulge way more, in the name of trying to be helpful and serve others, than I ever do in real life with people I actually know (unless, of course, they're going through something similar).

So - long story short - I only sort of agree with him, and only in some cases. :P
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I agree with him to. When I applied I told my significant other only since it involved them but told only that person until I got in. A lot of people think broadcasting it means they will get in but it doesn't.
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I disagree.

For one, I like to read the ends of novels - usually not long after I pick up the book. I can never not flip to the end at some point when the suspense gets to be too much for me. But that doesn't stop me from going back and reading the entire book. The mystery is how the plot unravels, not necessarily the final outcome.

Same goes for research - I enjoy the process, as well as the results. I don't think that telling friends or colleagues that I hope to achieve something is going to make me less motivated, if anything it will make me have to prove myself up to the challenge. I also don't think that sharing the difficulties of my work and my hopes for overcoming them in any way diminish the chances I'll solve my problems. I guess that logic works for certain people, but it's all wrong in my case.
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First of all - thank you for placing a TED Talk on the board. I find them very encouraging, and I enjoy watching these talks.

I approve of sharing goals in order to get a second opinion, or maybe an opinion that could be relevant to a research, or to push the idea on another level.
Or if my goal is just going to the gym, and I feel great about paying for the first month...telling people makes them "kick my bottom" if I don't, as said in the video.

A lot of people around me know maybe more about the subject I want to cover. That is relevant sometimes.

Still, I am also quite selective with whom I'll share my goals with. Because, in the end, I have seen people that were practically stealing ideas. Even talking about a goal, makes the goal closer, since your mind and therefore your actions are moving in that direction.

But, I have to admit that I don't share my goals. The reason is simple: I feel less guilty if I don't achieve it.

I am somewhere in the middle of agreeing:blink:
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When people have asked me about my top choice for grad school, I've answered them honestly, and now a lot of my friends joke about me being a future graduate student there.

While I find it reassuring that they think I can do it, I still fret a lot about actually getting in. So sharing my goals has had the opposite effect. I'm still working hard, if not harder, to maximize my chances. HOWEVER, I always include in my response, "oh well I'd LOVE to go to [awesome university], but I have to make sure my application is totally bomb." Hmmm, interesting. (I also have the professors who make me second-guess myself, so that's probably also contributing to my motivation a great deal. Haha.)

I love TED. So many great talks and things to think about. Thanks for posting it!
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I feel that when you broadcast goals, you owe it not only to yourself, but to the people who receive your broadcasts that you need to go through with whatever your goals are. I know I'm not fond of the idea of broadcasting goals only to have to deal with the repercussions of admitting to people that I failed at what I broadcasted. I can see where the TED lecturer is coming from, but to me personally, if I dare to broadcast my goals, it only helps in reinvigorating my efforts at achieving them for fear of not being able to come through with it.
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July 2014

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