Should You Tell People Your Goals?
The topic of talking about your goals became fashionable in recent years following an excellent TED Talk by Derek Sivers. Sivers’ message was that you shouldn’t tell people your goals because you subconsciously will feel that you’ve already achieved something by communicating, then lose motivation, and ultimately increase the chance of failing to reach the goal. Fair point.
However, I take a slightly different approach due to a couple problems that almost always appear with complex or long-term goals. First, big goals are very difficult, if not impossible to achieve completely alone; and second, even if you can achieve the goal alone, you will likely spend too much unnecessary effort and time by not getting help.
Support can come in the form of expertise, accountability, and/or cheerleading, and it is very difficult to receive help without communicating what you are trying to do. (See also my post on relying on motivation to achieve your goals.)
Goals vs. Dreams
One confusion around goals is that sometimes they are not really goals, but rather dreams, a purpose, or desired identity. The classic failed New Year’s Resolution is often a mix up between dreams and goals.
Goals are made as specific as possible so that you can plan further actions unique to you. Dreams are often the powerful emotional initiator of the goal, the ultimate wish, but may be difficult to quantify and take action on. (See my post on The Importance of Having Both Dreams and Goals for more details)
Should You Tell People Your Goals (and Dreams)?
Expanding the original question to include dreams along with goals, what should you do? I recommend starting with a minimum approach and inviting support to your circle as needed.
When creating and capturing your dreams, it is entirely OK to keep these completely to yourself unless you need help to elicit them or feel you benefit from sharing. Keeping your dreams private also keep you free from feeling judged if the dream seems superficial to your peer group or conflicts with their current identity or expectation of you.
For goals, you will benefit by sharing to at least core supporters who will help you achieve your targets. Your team of experts, accountability partners, and/or cheerleaders can be one-time, short-or long-term support. Beyond this group, you can decide who and when you feel comfortable communicating with.
Your cheerleading and accountability might be a 1-1 coach, your immediate family, or it might be the whole social media world–you will have to decide what is best.
The Canvas Solution
I have created a canvas to help you plan and separate your Dreams from your Goals:
- Dreams: This area you can keep private if you wish and map your dreams to specific goals.
- Goals: This area help you define concrete goals which help fulfill your dreams and in the reverse direction, ensure that the goals you create for fulfill a higher purpose. This area is ideal for sharing with your support team.