Goals are great. They are like lights on your path, marking with clarity various milestones one your journey. And goal setting, believe me, is an art. The art of properly setting course to your closest destination, making the best of your resources and with the greatest chances of success.
One of the most important chapters in any goal setting book would be about sharing. About making your goals visible. Making them public, verifiable, open. And since this is a very important part of the whole goal setting artistry, let’s talk about 5 reasons you should share your goals (once you have them clearly defined, of course). But I’ll also talk (at the end, of course, so don’t peek) about one reason you shouldn’t do this. Confused? Good. Because that will – hopefully – make you read on.
When you share your goals you’re literally feeding your accountability muscle. If you’re telling to a friend: “you know what, I will travel to Thailand this summer”, you can bet that the next time you see each other, he’ll ask: “hey, buddy, how’s your trip to Thailand going?”. Or something along those lines.
Accountability is a measure of your “stick-to-it-ness” (and please do not complain that this is not a word, I had enough from my spell checker already). So, if you bring other people in your goal picture, you can bet that your overall involvement in that project will be considerably higher.
Every time you tell the world about some of your goals, you modify them. You take something from a discussion, something from another one, until, out of this ping-pong game of sharing your plans back and forth, your goal will emerge in a new form. Most of the time, this form will be a much clearer one.
In fact, many of our goals are shaped by our interactions, by our conversations or by our encounters. So, the more we’re out there, sharing our visions and implementing our plans, the more those visions and plans are getting clearer, bigger and more structured.
3. Progress Measurement
Progress measurement is not really about being accountable, but more about metrics. As you get closer to your goal, you’d want to measure how long do you have until you reach it. That information can be precious in many contexts. For instance, you may want to set up a new goal or to evaluate the resources you already used.
And sharing your goals will make progress measurement easier. Sometimes you may even deliberately use your peers as guides or supervisors. When you want to give up smoking, for instance. Ask them to cheer you every day you didn’t smoke or every week.
Suppose you want to visit Italy this summer. And you start telling people about your goal. At some point, something interesting will happen. The mere fact that you tell to somebody else, will act like an incentive. It’s not about accountability, but about being pumped up and ready to act.
There are many ways of motivation, of course, some of them better than others. I think it’s ok to “use” other people like an enhancer of your own willpower, as long as you don’t become too dependent on these “help links”.
Sharing your goals with like minded people may help you grow your social circle. Goals aside, the mere fact that you take the time to share something, to give details, to bring updates and keep in touch with other people, all these tiny actions will create a connection.
And connection, as opposed to competition, is always a better way to advance. And if not better, at least not as tiresome as fighting each and every day for the first place.
But, as important as it may be, sharing goals can go just as far in helping you reaching them. In other words, there is a limit over which you shouldn’t trespass.
I don’t know if you’re going to find this in any goal setting book, but I know for sure it comes from a real life experience. My real life experience. And it’s about obfuscating your goals. Hiding them. Keeping them close to your heart, but far from the curious eyes.
Sometimes, in certain circumstances, the best way to go is to hide what you really want from anyone else, except you. And here’s why:
They Don’t Know Shit About You
Yeap, that’s the reason. Because, the moment you take out your goal, the moment you’re sharing it with the whole world, you create a loop. People will start to hold you accountable, (and, most of the time, that’s a good thing, as we saw right from the point one above). But it’s a good thing only to some extent. If you reach the goal, they’ll cheer at you. If you don’t, they’ll point fingers at you. Either way, you’re gonna create a reaction.
And that reaction is based not on who you are, but on what you want to do. Even more than that, the reaction is based on what other people perceive from what you want to do. And here’s how, based on just some assumptions and affirmations, they’ll start seeing in you a person that you’re certainly not. They will only see some stuff that has been done, in fact, not even a person.
But, in your attempt to really stick to your path, you take those cheers or fingers pointed at you quite seriously. You start to believe them. If you succeed, you’re a star, because they cheer at you. If you fail, you’re a loser, because they point fingers at you.
Now you see it? As important as it may be for your accountability, clarity and so on and so forth, this sharing thing may be handled with care. And you know why?
Because the most important person in the world is you. The universe turns round and round because of you. Each person that enters into your life, each achievement, each tiny thing you learn, all these are about you. There’s a whole world inside you, and what you do, feel and create in the outside world is a mirror of this inner world. And all your goals are part of you, not of them. You know better than anyone else what you should do with your life. Not your mother, not your wife, not some bright but shallow self-improvement guru, not me, the author of this blog.
So, if you found something important, really important, something that will define your entire life, some incredibly rewarding goal, keep it to yourself. Grow it like you grow a plant, with care and attention.
Follow this inner light each and every morning, hope that it will be there each and every day and, the moment you finally reach it, just breathe.