Don’t tell me about your goals

Recently I’ve been wondering why many of the things that we so desperately want to do take so long to actually¬†accomplish, if they even get accomplished at all. I KNOW you know what I mean – it happens every single new year. You tell yourself you’re going to adopt a routine at the gym, read one new book each month,¬† study your butt off to get that high GPA so your parents don’t regret paying for your college education. But you don’t just stop there, you tell everybody of your plans for awesomeness. You lay out your plan of action with your friends, family, and colleagues, and go on about how amazing it will feel when it’s all done.

You start off strong, with a list of the top rated books of all time, lots of note taking, and a personal trainer, but within a week your determination and strength dwindles into nothingness. Before you know it, you’re back to scavenging fallen chip crumbs off the sofa while watching the latest episode of Vampire Diaries, with a litre of soda in hand and the thought of studying for tomorrow’s kinesiology quiz nonexistent. So why does this happen? Why is it so easy to fall off the wagon when we started off with such strong intentions? I knew it wasn’t pure laziness, that’s something that every human being on the face of this planet possesses to some degree. Still, there are scores of successful people who are trusted with huge responsibilities. And you can’t even keep it together for one person – yourself.

And then I watched a TED Talks by Derek Sivers titled, “Keep your goals to yourself.” In his speech he examines why proclaiming our goals makes us less likely to go through with them. Typically, achieving a goal takes several steps to complete. However, we are never fully satisfied until we have accomplished our goal. The difference is that when you tell everyone around you what your goal is and how you plan to achieve it, your brain gets a jolt of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment, even though nothing has even been materialized yet.

At this point, with those around us praising us for wanting to do more and be more, our minds enter a “social reality” in which we feel we’ve already crossed the finish line. Despite the fact that literally nothing has changed yet, our minds are tricked into believing the opposite. We then feel entitled to slack off because hey, haven’t we done enough great work today? Yeah… 

So remember, the next time you feel like blabbing about how great this year is going to be, try keeping your resolutions to yourself. And who knows, you actually might accomplish them this year.