Tempted to tell the world your exciting New Year’s resolutions? Don’t! In 2015, we should keep our goals secret.
There is one New Year’s resolution that I wish everyone would make. Let us all promise that 2015 will be the year of secret goals. Let this year be the year we decide not to speak up. Let 2015 be the year we keep information to ourselves. Let us make this coming year the year we take a vow of silence. Where this might sound a little crazy, there is an intentionality behind it.
This past year, and every year since the advent of social media really, I’ve noticed something. It starts early on around New Years with the brave souls who are willing to try a new habit and tell the world about this new decision. It continues throughout the year and invariably, it becomes overwhelming. Someone has a new goal. This is the year they are going to lose weight. This is the year they will start lifting weights. This is the year they will focus on painting, writing, gardening, or restoring an old car. This is the year they challenge themselves. And low and behold, they tell the entire world.
This public sharing of goals happens all the time. We all have probably seen it, it happens everywhere. We watch every step as people try something new. We hear about every inch and pound lost on someone’s waist line. We see the progress as someone builds every part of their car engine. We can tell the color paint they are going to pick for their renovations. We. Know. Everything. For many people, can chart the progress of their goals because they share every detail.
2015 should be the year we stop this. The year people don’t share until they accomplish their goal. Don’t post every day. Don’t constantly update on work, projects, and progress. In 2015, we should take a vow of silence with our goals. Don’t share them. Don’t tell people you are starting them. Instead make your goals secret and then, just do them.
Join a gym class. Learn a new skill. Paint every inch of a house. Build a car. Adopt a child. Write a book. Do all these things but do them in private until you are ready to show the world the fruits of your labor. Let everyone know once you have accomplished those things, not a moment before.
Now you may be thinking, this is rude advice. Why shouldn’t I be proud of my accomplishments? Why shouldn’t I share my small achievements with the community? Why can’t I tell the people who willingly subscribe to my newsfeed, the people in my life, about the things I am doing? Why should I be secret about what should be a source of pride?
Well because of science.
This has nothing to do with me. I could care less about your post, I likely won’t see them anyway. Research however tells us that the more people you tell about your goals, the more it decreases your chances of accomplishing them. To sum it up, when we tell people our goals their reaction is going to be praise and happiness – no one hears about you wanting to better your life and says “bah humbug” to your desires for self-improvement. The natural reaction to you sharing your goals is that people will want to support you. You tell people you are trying to change and they believe you, they want to encourage you, they vocally cheer you on. And this is where the downfall begins.
When you tell people your goals, they support you and when people support you, it makes you happy. As with any support, it leaves you feeling fulfilled. You feel better about yourself. Neurologically, it tricks you. It triggers your brain in a way that you receive pleasure from the support provided by telling people. Your brain is fooled. It substitutes those feelings of praise for simply setting goals and replaces the drive you would receive from actually achieving them. You get pleasure just by sharing, and all of a sudden, your drive to accomplish your actual goal is lessened. You no longer have as immediate a need to reach your goal because everyone already praised you for it.
Just like that, your initiative cuts back. You are given the neurological permission to care a little less. The need for gratification, the need for success, is lowered because you already received pleasure. If you are constantly telling people about your goals, it makes it easy to care less about accomplishing these pieces because the stakes aren’t there. You don’t need to see results for your mind to derive happiness, you already have it simply because you shared. In oversharing we find danger because if you share too much, you are more likely to quit on your goals. Imagine how this power magnifies every time you receive praise on social media for just trying or reaching a quarter of your goal.
Sharing your goals is meant to be rewarding, unfortunately, it is too rewarding to be effective. Oversharing has the chance to decrease your success where keeping quiet, well that can make all the difference.
Not just right now with New Year’s resolutions but throughout the year, let’s make 2015 the year of silence. Make it a goal that this year, you will not tell everyone your goals. You will not share every time you run four miles for your marathon training. You won’t post constant updates on the progress of your project. You won’t seek out praise for your home repairs. Don’t give in to the temptation and allure of public support.
Let’s make 2015 the year of secret goals. Do, accomplish, and then share. Be proud, but only once you have reason to be proud of accomplishing your goal, not because you simply set a goal in the first place.
To start make a resolution to keep your goals secret this year. Just don’t tell anyone you’re doing this in the first place.