Does Sharing Your Goals Sabotage Your Chances of Success?
Photo courtesy of Personal Creations.

Does Sharing Your Goals Sabotage Your Chances of Success?

Written by Emilie

Topics: Goals

You’re at a party and a friend asks what you’ve been up to.

Unable to tone down your enthusiasm, you dive in and tell them about your new project: a murder-mystery-in-a-box game that you’re creating!

“WOW!” They say, “Tell me more…”

You go on for a while, describing the difference scenarios and characters… You omit the fact that you haven’t actually started creating this thing yet.

In the days that follow, you find it increasingly hard to work on your project.

Is that a coincidence?

There’s a theory that telling people your goals makes you less likely to accomplish them. The idea is that the validation you get from sharing your goals gives you the emotional hit you need, and your chances of then pursuing the project diminish.

This topic recently came up in a discussion in the Puttytribe and I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss it here on the blog since it’s so relevant to multipotentialites, with our many, many projects.

Here are my thoughts:

Your Turn

Does sharing your goals make it less likely for you to then pursue those goals? Does it matter who you’re sharing with or why? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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25 Comments

  1. Maryske says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Just a question actually: what’s with the videos lately? A new project? I can only speak for myself of course, but I tend to take in information a lot more effectively when it’s presented in written form than with someone talking to me about it. Plus instinctively, I’m much more inclined to read (and reread) a blog post than to actually take the time to sit through an 8 minute talkshow (even if it is you ;-)

    • Catherine says:

      I feel the same Maryske, especially about being able to re-read a post.

      Apart from that, I tend not to tell people my goals as I get the reward from people’s reaction and don’t feel like doing the goal then.

      But as you say, it does depend on who you tell about your goals as to whether you get just praise, or accountability.

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Maryske,

      Different people learn better with different formats. I’ve found these vlogs get a really big response (especially on social media) and that, along with my desire to mix it up from time to time (i.e. I enjoy making videos), is why I’m making them more. It’s only been about one post per month though. I think you can handle 1/4. ;)

  2. Kristina says:

    I LOVED this vlog piece! My personal take on sharing goals is that it motivates and propels me into the flow and onto the finish! The catch is the initial sharing — knowing or feeling who it’s “safe” to share with. Up until now (that I’ve become an official Putty Peep), I was always reluctant or nervous to share my ideas with others. Most frequently I sensed either indifference, skepticism or downright disbelief. Not very supportive, eh? Yet, unbeknownst to the naysayers, their reaction only served to make me more determined to “show them”, which brings me full circle to my personal take on sharing goals! Declare it, do it, and disregard the “dissers”….or delight in their dismay when you’ve done it!

    • Emilie says:

      Good point! And I also really appreciate your alliteration skills in that last sentence, Kristina. :)

    • Erin Hennessy says:

      That’s me! I love it when people respond with skepticism (unless it’s a higher-up and I need the approval, ha). I’ve noticed I’ve been keeping my projects a secret lately, and now I know why! As soon as I share a win with my work, I feel like I can’t stand working on that project anymore. I’ve finally accepted that I need long breaks to finish something because I get burnt out after every step forward (ugh!).

      Anyway, back to your point – the best example was when I was running a race in high school. When i heard people cheering on the girls in front of me, and no one cheering for me, I got mad and determined and gave it my all and flippin’ beat them! I knew if it weren’t for *them* getting cheered, I wouldn’t have beat them. Here here to…pride?? Lol

  3. Livia says:

    I like the videos. Even though I love to read and I am a writer. They are more personal. And they give me a break from the ton of stuff I have to read during the day for work. And research says people read less and less and watch more videos. I like the variety. Thanks Emilie.

  4. Tracy J Hayes says:

    I agree that it depends on context. when I share with friends and family, there’s no accountability, but when I meet with my artists’ group and my writers’ group, I feel both validated and recharged and want to go forward.

    Thanks, Emily!

  5. Michael says:

    Another aspect of this issue that wasn’t covered is when we share our enthusiasm about a new idea or project (whether started already or not) but then receive at best a lukewarm or even a discouraging reaction from the other person. THAT is why I rarely share my goals and projects with others, because with the exception of one or two of my closest friends, they do not really know how to respond and be supportive of a highly creative person like me.

  6. Felipe Cabral says:

    Yeah! I totally agree with the second part of the video, you should attract what you want for yourself, you should name it out loud for the universe and all the energies that affects us can help bringing this to you. You have to put intention, determination and action together for an objective if you really want this objective to be completed. So the validation may not lay in the other thought or emotion about my project, and in reality this action is to keep attracting this to me, to my life. I “don’t really care who is listening” because i’m telling this to my brain, and i want to divide that with all the people that i can.
    I think that contacts are really important too, and can open locked doors that can take an idea out of the paper.
    Really nice this hub initiative, can help a lot of people!
    Kisses from Brasil!

  7. K.C. says:

    Hi Emilie,
    I first want to say that I enjoy receiving your words of encouragement and wisdom from both formats, it keeps things personal.

    As for today’s topic, I have definitely experienced this and have learned-as a creative person- who to go to for the support I need and to put in persoective , that even though some family and friends want the best for me, they don’ t understand the multi-pod that I am. Again, thank you for all you do!

  8. Nicole says:

    Great video, and man oh man…I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. BUT ALSO: That room you’re in looks gorgeous! If this is part of your house, I would LOVE to see a home tour! (one of my many passions is homes and home design)

  9. conner.artist says:

    I definitely can relate to the ‘sharing my goals makes me less likely to follow thru’ side. I think many times I just want my desires to be heard. I may not even realize that I don’t intend to follow thru until I’ve heard it out loud and seen a reaction from others. I agree that sometimes you need to share your intentions with specific people in order to make a commitment to them, particularly if these are related to making a living or a step towards a bigger end goal. But sometimes as a multipotentialite, I’ve got too many ideas to be able to follow thru and so sharing it fills a need to have it recognized as a great idea especially because I don’t have the time to fulfill it and other things take priority. Hearing it matters to someone else is validating and helps me to move it onto the back burner or past it in order to turn attention to some of the less attractive but unavoidable items on my to do list.

  10. I find it very helpful to share goals; the key for me is knowing the right people to share them with. I have close friends who are also creatives and multi-potentialites, and they understand the possibility of being able to achieve all of these diverse goals. Unfortunately I’ve ran into problems in the past of sharing these goals with friends or family members who don’t understand living and loving doing multiple things, and don’t believe it’s possible to accomplish all of these visions. Sadly they only squelch the goal, leaving me doubting my ability to go for these goals. I also think its important to know who you can trust-people that are confident in themselves are more likely to be supportive and excited for you. Others can be jealous of your excitement and will have something negative to say.

  11. That’s a great point Michael made about the kind of reception we get when we announce our goals.

    On the side topic, I like the videos too! I read a lot, to be sure, and written blogs are good for quickly scanning and finding information. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to just listen and connect.

  12. Paul Reinerfelt says:

    Hi!

    My take on this is that when I talk to someone about a project/goal/etc. it kind of feels like it is now made public and official and thus I *must* do it. And I’m much less likely to do something I *have to* do than something I do just to “goof off”.

    • Harald says:

      Exactly. :-)

      And there is a second thing. In my experience, too many people think you elected them your accountability buddy just by telling them what you plan. So, they volunteer to nag you for completion (completion in the way THEY understood your project) while you really haven’t asked for anything like that.

      Consciously selecting an accountability buddy, like Emilie described, can be very helpful sometimes and a most excellent thing to do. But the emphasis is on “select”. Don’t tell everyone as much about your projects as the would need to feel like your accountability buddies.

      If you tell a multipod you are pretty safe. As for the others: Handpick them with care.

  13. Tom Vaughan-Mountford says:

    Hi, this is something I’ve often wondered about and tried to analyse the effect of.

    Personally, I rarely tell family about what I’m working on. My next project (which spontaneously appeared in my head a few weeks ago) is to temporarily up-sticks and hire a desk at a co-working space in Germany for a couple of weeks, just to change my scenery whilst I work and experience what it’s like to live and work in another country even for just for a short while. I might even try to learn some German beforehand. Whilst this is still in the planning phase I’ve opted to not share this with anyone. Unless it’s locked-in as an unshakeable commitment I’ll be told…

    a) “What on earth do you want to do that for, what’s the point, what a waste of money, why don’t you just go on holiday like anyone else?”
    b) “So, you’re going to give up the Russian lessons then? What a waste of time those were. Why don’t you stick to things?”

    So – I only tell my goals to people who understand the way my mind works, and what I need to do the feel satisfied in life. I guess whether you tell anyone about your goals really depends on whether they truly understand your motivations for pursuing a project.

  14. Emily says:

    Somehow I had never really thought about it quite like this before, but I definitely experience this. I always feel most enthusiastic, inspired, motivated about my projects in the dreaming phase. Once i sit down to actually try to do them, i tend to feel stuck and empty. I wonder if this stems from sharing my intentions with people (the wrong people) or if it’s something else.

    I often think about how scary it is to say dreams out loud. Saying things outloud seems to make them real. Suddenly, the pressure is on, which I find debilitating. I think I usually share with people because I need collaborators or affirmation that my idea is good or not out of reach. It’s so discouraging when I don’t get the response I’m hoping for. Maybe I need to rethink my strategy on this one – thanks for the food for thought!

    Also, I find myself sharing my goals with my parents because they are so worried about my financial stability that if they don’t know what I’m up to, they constantly give me job ideas and advice that I’m not interested in. I never feel good about it though. How can I hold them at bay without ruining my excitement and confidence in my projects?

  15. Tish says:

    Yes! This is so true for me. My experience is that it doesn’t matter whom I tell; if I haven’t completed my goal, I’m better off not telling anyone, or I might as well just move on to the next, totally different goal.

  16. Jessica says:

    I share and not share my goals/ideas in different ways… As all my goals/projects differ, so do my feelings about each one. Saying my goal my out loud, to myself, helps me to accomplish my goal/project. As for social media, I generally do not share until after accomplished. Otherwise, I feel to rushed through my project. I tell my mom everything, detail. Telling her gives me another perspective or inspiration. I may tell my family/friend of it, but not in deep detail… Otherwise, I feel it spoils the motivation I feel, while I’m working on it, when thinking of presenting the finished product. I show my spouse most of it, he’s there in my frustrated times. As for the vlog, I loved it. Great perspectives, very well spoken, and very well presented. I like getting away from all of the reading from time to time.

  17. rakhi n says:

    I love the video. it’s so on point. I also have a habit it of telling it to people who are not so important in the first place like whom I’m meeting for the first time or people who just want to know what I’m upto.