Should You Share your Goals?
Sometimes asking for accountability and sharing my goals and dreams cans feel somewhat… self-indulgent. Delusional. Like I’m showing off.
For some of people, revealing their lofty goals (like a £500k year and to relocate to Bali) is totally easy. It amps them up. They have no problem in revealing whether it happened or not: and usually can put a positive spin on either outcome.
For others, they feel like their goals are either too outrageous to reveal (how would I look if I failed?) or just delusional (who am I to have the balls to try that?) or just totally banal (who cares if I want to go swimming three times this week?)
But we’re forgetting what sharing our goals and keeping ourselves accountable is for.
Yes, no one really cares about your goals. big or small.
They care about their goals. If anything, you sharing your goals and ambitions simply shines a light back onto them. Some will think ‘hmm… if he/she can do it, well may be I can!‘ or ‘shit – I should probably start going swimming again.’
Either way, you can’t control what others make of your goals. How they choose to feel is entirely their choice; they can choose to be motivated or fearful.
Personally, I love reading or hearing others goals. It always serves as a kick up the bum and get me to do something or share my own. After that moment, I basically forget all about the other person’s goal, and start focussing on my own.
The outcome of your goal is even less significant to others.
If you just share the goal, without sharing the outcome: you’ve lost the power of accountability. There’s no ‘skin in the game’ if you don’t hold yourself to sharing the result.
I think this issue lies at the core of what Derek Sivers says about keeping your goals to yo’self.
For many, simply the act of sharing the goal (like running a marathon) is so satisfying that the goal-setter feels like they’ve already achieved the goal (especially if it’s for others approval) and ends up losing motivation to actually do the thing.
They stop caring about the result: because at some level they know by the time the marathon comes along, their friends and family will have forgotten about their lofty goal.
So should you share your goals?
Well, I’ve found that accountability from sharing goals DOES work… but under certain conditions:
1) The goal should be short-term
If it’s too far away, like the marathon example, we’re more likely to forget we told anyone and sharing it loses it’s motivational power.
However, a goal like this can be broken down (something I recommend for all goals regardless of sharing) and those mini-goals can be shared.
For example, on Mondays I check in with the League of Creative Introverts to see what goals people are shooting for that week.
2) Schedule follow ups
We know that goals work best when they have a deadline attached, and using this as your ‘results’ day is another way to strengthen your motivation and keep you on track.
For me, remembering to check in with the League members who shared their goals that week is key. Yes, remembering to do that should probably be my goal this week 😉
3) Ask for advice*
This is totally optional, but it gets others involved and actually start to care whether you achieve your goal or not.
Confiding in just one person can be enough to (1) keep you feeling accountable and (2) keep THEM feeling accountable.
It’s one thing to share your goals on a public forum, but recruiting a buddy to help you – whether it’s just checking in via text or email once a week or fortnight – or actually getting up and going for a run with you once a week to keep you on track for that marathon – that can be what keeps you going.
It’s why I offer ‘Accountabilibuddies‘ (one day I’ll come up with a less-cheese-filled name) for the League. It’s flexible enough to work around our crazy schedules, and doesn’t have to take longer than sending an email or two back n forth once a week.
I also think it suits many of our more introverted sides. Sometimes a public forum can feel a bit too big: whereas an individual feels juuuuust right.
*One caveat to sharing your goal with certain people. There are some people in our lives, god love ’em, that will not encourage us in the right direction. ‘Go on, one cigarette won’t hurt’ – honest to god, that’s something I’ve heard one family member say to another recently.
It isn’t that they don’t have our best intentions at heart: they just don’t see our goals the way we do.
If you think that might be the case for some loved ones in your life: find someone online, likely in your industry or in a Facebook group you’re a member of (ahem) but just someone you know who won’t let you sabotage yourself. We do enough of that to ourselves as it is 😉
So… what if you don’t hit your goal?
It can feel like giving your ego a chinese-burn, but sharing your hits as well as your misses is huge. It’s like the ‘face down in the arena’ moments that Brené Brown talks about in Rising Strong.
The ability to admit when you’ve been sucker-punched, and have the courage and humility to get back up and say ‘I see what happened here. It’s ok. I’m ok. Let’s try again this week and do X differently.’
Now that to me is the ultimate inspiration.
Seeing a human who has the guts and thoughtfulness to admit defeat AND reflect on what they learned is a true sign of someone who has ambitions to grow – one of our highest needs (if you ask Maslow or Robbins.)
A friend recently asked me how a course I told him I was creating last summer went. My heart sank. My stomach tightened.
“It flopped” I told him.
*Sympathetic nods. Awkward sips of beer…*
“But I learned that…”
I went on to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and most importantly: what I’m doing differently next time.
I instantly felt lighter. Even more than I would have been had I not shared the results.
So: lesson learned. Share the good, the bad and the ugly.