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Should You Share Your Goals or Not?

Jan 13, 2019
Ashley Ann Lawrie

In the season of goal setting and motivation it is important to understand all aspects of goal setting. What will help you reach them faster? Are they realistic? Who can help you achieve them?

With social media it is so easy to announce our goals and intentions to the world in a matter of moments. Does sharing our goals with the world help or hinder our progress? Are there other strategies to help you achieve your goals this year (and make them last a lifetime??).

This week we cover whether sharing our goals is the best idea or not, and how you can best bolster your New Year’s Resolutions so there’s so much more to celebrate throughout the year.

To Share or No to Share?

How many of you made a public post to a social media platform about your New Year’s Resolutions? It feels good to put it out into the universe and feel as though by sharing it, it will manifest itself.

Research is actually torn as to whether or not this is a good idea.

For years social psychologists have argued that by speaking your goals out loud, you brain believes that by you saying the goal, you have achieved it. This essentially turns off the mechanisms in your brain that will motivate you to work towards that goal because it already thinks the goal is complete. This TED Talk sums it up nicely.

Derek Sivers, TED Talk Oxford, “Keep Your Goals to Yourself”

On the flip side of the argument is a study published in the Journal of Translational Behaviour Medicine. Compared to the research that argues against sharing your goals (most of which was published from 1920 to 2009), this study takes into account sharing your goals and your progress on social media.

What this study found was that participants who shared their goal and their progress on twitter lost more weight that those who did not. This was in part because as participants shared their progress, there was further engagement from their peers that either gave more information and guidance that would help with achieving their goals, or simply offered support and reassurance.

This idea of sharing our goals and intentions online has been taken to the app world with apps like Weilos (recently acquired by Weight Watchers), which is a social media platform specifically for sharing progress pictures, and Complete, which is an app where you can publicize your to-do list to the app so that other members can help hold you accountable to those items.

These apps and newer research studies suggest the opposite of the previous studies mentioned, stating that by getting cheers of support from friends and the community, you crave more praise and reward from them. Instead of the praise and reward shutting off the motivation to work harder in your brain, it may actually keep the fire burning bright.

When research cannot agree sometimes it is best to change the question. Instead of “Should we share?” maybe we change the question to “What do we share?”

What shall we share?

In articles that review the older studies that tout the importance of keeping your goals secret, they do offer other ways to share without stating the goal and thus turning off the motivation entirely.

Instead of simple saying your goal is to “lose 15lbs” or “Stop smoking”, setting intention statements is better. These are the classic if-then statements. Instead of your brain hearing the final goal, it hears a blueprint and a plan to achieve a goal.

It looks something like this:

If I am going to lose 15lbs, then I have to eat more greens, move at least 30 minutes every day, and get 7+ hours of sleep.

Or,

If I will quit smoking in 2019, then I will need to cut down the number of cigarettes I smoke by half every week.

Sharing progress regularly is also a great way to achieve your goals, because the micro-doses of support from your community will slowly become something you look forward to and crave.

Remembering the kind words of encouragement from the last progress post you made, will ring loudly until you make your next progress post.

In the end sharing your goals is entirely up to you. Sometimes goals are incredibly personal and sharing them would leave you feeling too exposed to even attempt to achieve them. With this article we hope that we have given you a few more insights into how the brain processes and manages goals and motivation so that you are better equipped to see success this year!

 

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