It’s been continually pounded into our heads that when you want something to happen, you must ask for it with intent. You must think about what you want, and envision yourself already achieving this goal. The universe has to be completely aware of what you’re reaching for so, when the time is right, it can give it to you. Seems simple enough, right?
There's a slight problem with this equation.
It seems we’re all under the impression that once we figure out a new goal for ourselves, the first thing we need to do is broadcast it to the entire world. Whether it's through social media or purely word of mouth, we seem to want to tell everyone all that we're thinking. But there may in fact be a better solution.
A study conducted by New York University psychology professor, Peter Gollwitzer, found that announcing your goals out loud to friends and family does something funny to the brain. It actually deters you from going out and achieving those goals.
Let’s say I want to lose 10 pounds. I announce on social media I’m working toward losing weight, and everyone tells me, “That’s awesome! Good for you!” My mind immediately thinks that's a great reaction (because it is!)
By hearing such positive news and reactions to your goal, you get a sense of satisfaction and joy. This immediately makes you feel happy and confident, so you lose motivation to continue pursuing these goals.
That 7 am workout class I was going to take? Why bother? Everyone already thinks I’m working hard to lose weight. I feel like I’ve done enough just by telling people what I’m planning on doing. So in turn, I feel as satisfied as I would have when the goal was reached.
See the problem? This is why keeping your goals a secret is an extremely useful tactic in making sure you accomplish them.
K.C. McCulloch, an assistant professor at Idaho State University who worked on a similar study, explained, “By not telling anyone [your goals], you’re making sure your goal is something you’re really doing for yourself.”
How often do we really do things for ourselves? I think, more often than not, we are doing things for other people.
Every time we post something on social media, we are looking to get a reaction out of our friends and followers. We want people to be happy for us, and we want them to be there for us.
But there’s an inherent trouble with this when it comes to reaching your goals. What if you receive negative feedback? What if someone tells you what you’re aiming for is wrong?
Having someone tell you, “I’ve done that before; it’s really hard” or “I’ve only heard terrible things about that class” is extremely detrimental. These comments may make you actually believe others' opinions, rather than trusting your initial gut feeling. You are letting people sway you from achieving the goals you’ve been thinking long and hard about. This alone should be reason for you to stay quiet about the things you're working toward.
There’s also an added bonus to keeping quiet about your goals. You’ll be so restless to tell everyone about the crazy milestones you’ve reached that you’ll work even harder to reach said goals. Better yet, hearing praise and compliments from your friends and family will feel even better when you’ve already accomplished what you wanted to.
So, what’s the right thing to do? Keep hush about your goals the best you can. When you really feel like sharing with someone, consult only those you completely trust and respect. Make sure these people are not secretly trying to hold you back or compete with you, as this may discourage you from being your most productive self.
Next time you have big plans in mind, try to stay quiet about them, and watch how quickly these plans come to life. Then, make sure to tell the world all that you've accomplished! The feeling of joy will be greater than ever :)