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The Downsides of Sharing Your Goals With Others


Remember the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ where Amy Adam’s character takes up the challenge to cook up all the recipes in Julia Child’s first cookbook? The fear of starting a task and not being able to complete it makes her share the goal online in the format of a daily blog. As she updates her progress every day, her followers grow, who keep her accountable for the next recipe. And eventually she achieves her goal. But what if she never had followers? What if nobody cared about what she was doing? And her blog was lost somewhere in the big void called the internet? Would she have been able to meet success?

We humans naturally are big time dreamers. We have a lot of dreams, ambitions and plans we would like to accomplish in life. In most of the cases, we also know what would be the steps in achieving them. But our biggest problem is to take that first step. We lack in putting our dreams into action. The disconnect between knowing what you should do and actually doing it is called Intention – Behavior Gap. Is there a way we can bridge this gap?


In 2009, Peter Gollwitzer and some other researchers at NYU released a paper, called “When intentions go public does social reality widen the intention – behavior gap”. In the experiment conducted, they divided people into two groups, one who disclosed their goals to everyone and the other who kept their goals to themselves. After 45 minutes, the ones who had kept it a secret were more realistic about their achieving the goals, than their counterparts who had revealed their goals. The group which talked about their goals had given up working on the task just after 33 minutes, but still felt like they were nearing their goals.

When someone affirms our goal, we feel like we have actually taken a step towards the goal. It gives us some satisfaction and that’s called Social Reality. This is why we find so many blogs and vlogs where people announce their goals and document their journey in the hope of achieving them. But sometimes when we share our goals with everyone, we tend to deceive ourselves and others due to pressure and the fear of being judged as a failure. The expectation of others makes us talk what they want to listen rather than what we are actually doing.


Another problem when it comes to involving others in our goals is that we often share the ultimate vision we have for ourselves.  We need to communicate the work we need to put in rather than the identity we want to achieve. For example, do not say I am going to sing like Elvis in 6 month’s time, rather tell them I am going to practice singing everyday for the next six months. Setting specific goals and thinking about contextual reminders is important. This sort of planning is also called Implementation Intentions.

So should we completely avoid sharing our dreams and goals with others? If you really have to disclose your goals to someone, make sure the person cares about your goals and takes them seriously, someone who would motivate you on a regular basis and keep you accountable. You could associate with someone who has a similar goal as yours or someone who would educate you on skills you need to know in terms of achieving your objective. There needs to be harmony among the people you choose to admit your goals to.


So go ahead and plan your insane goals, but be wise when it comes to declaring them.

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