“Imagine telling someone you meet today about what you’re going to do,” says Derek Sivers. “Bad news – you should have kept your mouth shut.”
Here’s the basic statement that Derek Sivers is posing to us listeners in his TED talk – keep your goals to yourself and you’re more likely to achieve them. Does this sound strange to you? That’s because it goes against the commonly accepted notion that telling people our ambitions or our goals or anything that we want to achieve can help us achieve them. It’s supposed to give us a support system, a cheering squad, or accountability that will keep us going. When we falter, the friends that we shared our goals with are supposed to tell us to keep going. They’re supposed to be our motivation, to hold us to our word. But according to Derek Sivers, the actual effect is the exact opposite.
As it turns out, studies show that when we tell people about what we’re planning on achieving, we get a false sense of achievement. Our brain gets a kick out of it, a false high that it directly gets from telling other people. Essentially, we get the same kind of positive feeling in just telling people about what we’re going to do as we would if we had actually already done it. We’re substituting the act for the telling.
We find out more from this phenomenon through a study that Derek Sivers elaborated on in his talk. A group of people were given a common goal to achieve. Half of them were instructed to tell others about their goal while the other half were told to keep there mouths shut. They were then given 45 minutes to achieve the goal. The people who were told to keep their mouths shut used up the entire 45 minutes to work towards their goals and felt that they had a lot of work to do to get to where they wanted to go. The people who were told to share their goal stopped at around the 30 minute mark and felt that they had covered a lot of ground towards achieving their goal.
The bottomline is, keeping your goals to yourself will make success more likely because it stops you from feeling complacent. The next time you want to lose those few extra pounds or start that small business, resist the urge to post about it on Facebook or Instagram.
To Our Students:
Want an interesting perspective? This summer, think about how this applies to you and your social media habits. Ask yourself to think twice before posting about your latest thoughts and ambitions, no matter how small, online. Take it a step further and ask your friends to participate in this small project with you and try to gauge their responses. Are they willing or positive or perplexed or just too hooked on social media to even want to give it a shot?
Young adults these days are constantly wired into the internet one way or other, especially students. That’s why the idea of indulging in quick gratification from other people versus gratification from actual achievements is an all too real hurdle and a very important one. This summer, offer some insight to your friends and maybe you can help them become more productive and just a bit closer to achieving their goals.