Shhhh…keep your goals to yourself

Shhhh…keep your goals to yourself

Derik Sivers tells us that to not share your goals with other people will make them more likely to be achieved.  This is contrary to everything that I’ve ever heard or read…thus I like it (but I’m also a bit skeptical).

There are some very interesting insights into how the mind works that makes this have some credibility for me (watch the video).   If true, this would have a lot of implications not only for the motivational work that we do, but for motivation theory in general!

I will need to do some more research on this.  Would love to hear your thoughts.


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  1. An interesting theory that will appeal to most people but I have to disagree with Derik.

    First, take a look at Robert Cialdini’s book Influence Science and Practice, the chapter on commitment and consistency. The chapter sites study after study that clearly shows people want to be consistent in what they say and do. The chapter clearly details that public commitments are more powerful than private and backs it up with science.

    On a less scientific basis I would point to the many organizations that realize the power of public commitments such as weight watchers and fitness clubs. People succeeding at reaching their goals keeps them in business so they’re motivated to use the best psychological approaches possible.

    Last, consider the mot common “private” commitment – the New Years Eve resolution. How successful are those?

    Again, interesting but despite the study Derik cited I think there’s too much evidence pointing in the other direction.


    • thelanterngroup


      I agree – I think there is a lot of research out there that shows the consistency is a vital persuader(you point to Cialdini -I just happened to have “Influence – the Psychology of Persuasion on my desk next to my computer). However, I’m interested in this because I can see how there is some credibility to in the dopamine rush we get in publicly stating our goals (i.e., providing pleasurable feeling when we communicate our goal)that influences our behavior. I’m not saying that this influence overcomes the influence of consistency, but I do see that it could have an impact.

      I’m interested to see if there is a way to combine these two psychological aspects in order to improve how persuasive goals can be.

      • One thing not mentioned in the initial presentation – follow up communication.

        The study he sites takes place within an hour of the commitment if I remember right. No follow up to the initial “commitment”. Seems a far stretch to extrapolate that study into a “business approach.”

        This is the problem with 90% of TED stuff.

        However, from business goals standpoint – ongoing follow up on the initial commitment, progress to the goal, etc. would take the place of the initial dopamine rush. IMHO.

        • thelanterngroup


          Agreed – lots of information regarding the study were left out and need to be investigated further. Not sure if it is applicable, but it makes me want to look at it more to find out.

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