my big idea logo
young man drinking coffee while using his laptop

How Silence Can Help You Acheive Your Goals

The more people you tell of your goal, the more pressure you will have to achieve it, which is a good thing. Or, is it?

A growing number of experts are beginning to realize that accountability to people other than yourself isn’t always the best choice. Despite the buzz surrounding the idea of accountability, it doesn’t mean shouting your goals on the rooftop makes them easier to achieve. 

A study by the American Psychological Association found that sharing your goals with a stranger can de-motivate you. It may seem like keeping your goals private is counterproductive, but science says otherwise.

Premature praise may remove the incentive to work on your goal

A study by Peter Gollwitzer revealed that sharing your goal actually decreases the chance that you’ll actually do the work. Why? When you reveal your big goal, people are quick to praise you, giving you a euphoric high that feeds your feelings of self-worth. You get a ‘hit’ of endorphins early, and then are less motivated to keep working on said goal. 

As the popularity of social media continues to climb, the ‘hits’ of euphoria come from simply telling people about the goal. Followers give you mini-hits with likes and words of affirmation, but you don’t actually have to do the work to get the praise.

Praise related to you as an individual is less likely to motivate you

A study at Reed College used three types of praise to evaluate the effectiveness of affirmation and accountability on goal-setting. The group that received praise on their method of working was more successful (“The way you solved that problem was impressive.”), while the group that received individual praise (“You’re amazing!”) was less successful. 

Negative feedback can discourage beginners

While no one likes to get negative feedback, it can discourage people from continuing to work on their goals and lead them to abandon their plans. People who struggle with their goals may be inclined to give up altogether when they receive negative feedback about their rate of work, the way they approach the problem or their overall goal - even if that feedback came from people who don’t actually care to see you succeed. 

Comparison is the enemy of success

Have you ever told someone a dream or goal, only to have them rattle off others who have attempted the same thing? It can be discouraging to hear about others who have failed and can lead to disillusionment. Other times, your goals may lead to jealousy in the people you’re sharing them with. As a result, you may be getting feedback from them that is counterproductive in helping you achieve your goals.

Staying private about your goals doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an accountability partner 

Privacy about your goals can mean something different to everyone. For some, it might mean not sharing them publicly, for others it might mean keeping them between you and those closest to you. Other people might find that some goals are better left to yourself - at least until you’ve had time to carve away at them. 

If you find someone close to you that you can trust and can help take you and your goals to the next level, consider asking them to be an accountability partner. 

Accountability partners are different from people you might off-handedly share a goal with. Their purpose is to support you and be a positive influence on achieving your goals. They’re there to motivate you and they’re the type of people who want to see you succeed. 

Just be sure you give it some thought before seeking an accountability partner. Give yourself time to confirm that your goal is S.M.A.R.T., and it’s something you want to achieve for yourself, not just for outside praise. Then, give yourself time to determine who the right person is to help you on your journey.

Keeping your goals private can be powerful. You’re less likely to be faced with the onslaught of doubt, discouragement and defeat that can come with other people’s opinions.

The best way to reach success? Use an effective goal setting strategy to craft strategic goals. When you use a proven method to create your plan, you are more likely to succeed – no matter who you share (or don’t share) your goals with.Interested in learning more about effective goal setting? Check out our blog, where we explore new topics regularly.

Stay In Touch

Get the latest news and inspiration delivered to your inbox.
Newsletter Sign Up
Back To Top