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Don’t share your goals with others

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Don’t share your goals with others

Scott Miker

In a lot of motivational and self-help books the authors explain that in order to be accountable for your goals, you have to share them with others.

The idea is that if others are watching then you are more likely to actually do it.  And when you struggle, others are more likely to help you keep moving.

I always found this strange.  Before we even really know what it takes and what we will do we want to tell everyone about what we are going to do.  We half brag about our future success and half argue that we know it all.

Including others on goals might work for some but many of us don’t have all the answers before starting.  Instead we have to try different things and be willing to fail but keep trying in order to succeed. 

Doing it this way leaves the people you share your goals with skeptical and more likely to respond with criticism.  When this happens, you become less flexible to try different tactics until you find some that works.  Instead you lock down into your mindset that you are right and they are wrong.  Instead of success, you really just chase the “I told you so” mindset. 

In It’s Not About the Shark – How to Solve Unsolvable Problems, David Niven, Ph.D says, “To give yourself a chance to find a solution, you must listen to your own voice.  The solution is within you.  But when you find the solution, the biggest threat you will face is letting someone else speak over your voice.”

He goes on to say, “Other people will say no.  Other people will share their doubts.  It’s not because you are wrong – it’s because that’s what other people do.  They see the problem.  If they could see a solution, they would have come up with one.”

Then he says something very powerful, “When it really matters, a single mind creates action, while a meeting of the minds creates hesitation and doubt.”

Yes it can be beneficial to share goals with those around you.  But in many instances that will create more hesitation and doubt then action. 

Action is what you need in those early stages.  You need to start doing something in order to move the needle.  Most successful businesses learn to pivot early in order to find success.  Pivoting is just a fancy business term that means that we change our approach.  Sometimes this is a minor pivot and sometimes this is drastic. 

When we get others involved, we start to lock into our course.  It adds accountability, but the accountability isn’t to be flexible, which means that innovation will likely take a step back.  The accountability is to do exactly what you said you were going to do.  This keeps you locked into your original assumptions and doesn’t let you play it out in real life before committing everything to it. 

Instead of deciding that change is needed in life and immediately run to those around you to proclaim your new goals and strategies, spend the initial stages with the goal inside you.  Work through it by trying different strategies and focus on action and adjustment over rigid truths.

Doing this will help you start to make progress and can help you define the path so that if you do decide to start sharing your journey with others you can recount the steps you have taken and the lessons learned, rather than trying to convince someone what you will do in the future.