Monday, May 16, 2011

Got a Goal? Keep it to Yourself!

Got a goal? Want to increase the odds of achieving it? The latest research out is showing us that you increase your odds significantly if you don't tell anyone about it!

For years research has shown us that the mere act of writing down your goals gives them a permanence and reality in your brain that helps drive you toward achieving them. In studies, participants that wrote down their goals, versus those that did not, were more than 60% likely to achieve them.

If Step One in achieving our goals is to define them, then Step Two must certainly be the need to write them down.

Our typical third step is usually to start talking to others about our goal. Conventional wisdom has typically said that telling others about our goals helps to motivate us to succeed and, also, creates a form of peer pressure to persevere. We aren't going to want to share with others that we abandoned our quest and we therefore keep on pushing toward it.

New research out though, shows that this conventional wisdom is, in fact, a fallacy.  It seems that typically, when we share our 'big' goal with someone else, they will get excited about it. Their excitement, in turn, makes us feel good about ourselves and our goal. This feeling serves to convince the brain that the goal has already been achieved and it stops driving you forward.

This phenomena is referred to, in psychological circles, as Social Reality. It's the impact of that social gratification on the brain's perception of what is real and what is, as yet, still a thought or ideal. The very acknowledgment by others of your goal, gives it a reality in the mind's eye that leads you to be less motivated toward achieving it than more.

The bottom line therefore is that 'telling' someone about your goal will typically make it less likely to happen. But we are, by nature, relatively social creatures. When we are excited about an idea or a goal we naturally want to share that excitement with others. If you feel the need to share your goal, but want to avoid the social gratification trap, make sure that you emphasize how much work you still have to do, how much further you still have to push, in its achievement. You need to clearly let your brain know that it is not a fait accomplis but rather a work still in progress.

So, Step Three in the goal achievement process?  Keep your mouth shut!

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog is all about and for you! I welcome your comments, criticisms, added thoughts and insights. Feel free to share openly with everyone here on the blog but know that if you want to share something directly with me, you can do so by emailing me.