TED Talk: Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself

I read quite a bit. Not having a spouse, children, or real adult responsibilities, I have much free time to spend. Reading is a preferred way of spending that time. My goals probably are better described as self-challenges to stretch my reading in new ways. Perhaps it is more like a 5K race winner deciding to try out a 10K than a couch potato trying to win a 10K. I have not yet failed any of these reading challenges.

These challenges are constantly on my mind. I feel guilty going to anywhere by myself without a book. (The Kindle on my phone is awesome if only for having a book anywhere I am.) I gripe about how I am behind and need to spend more time on them.

The other goals are more going from being a couch potato to trying to win a 10K. So Sivers’ message makes a little more sense.

Telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen.

Sivers goes on to say telling someone your goal tricks the mind into thinking it has already happened. I’ll need to look up these studies. What he seems to leave out in the TED Talk is the last paragraph of the blog post:

It may seem unnatural to keep your intentions and plans private, but try it. If you do tell a friend, make sure not to say it as a satisfaction (“I’ve joined a gym and bought running shoes. I’m going to do it!”), but as dissatisfaction (“I want to lose 20 pounds, so kick my ass if I don’t, OK?”)

I have heard of studies where another keeps those aspiring to achieve something to account will help success. That sounds similar to the dissatisfaction style of telling someone else. Which seems to me really change the whole message.