Leap Challenge Day 11: Choose Who to Tell

leadershipConventional wisdom tells us that one of the best ways to increase your chances of achieving a goal is to broadcast your intention to the world—don’t keep it a secret! The idea is that once you go public, your friends will keep you accountable or, at the very least, your fear of losing face will drive you toward success.

Turns out announcing it to the world may be the worst thing in the world you could do.

Peter M. Gollwitzer, a psychologist at NYU, conducted a series of studies in 2009 that showed telling other people your goal actually decreases the probability that you’ll achieve it.

Here’s how it works: You decide you’re going to do something, you work up the courage and you tell everyone your intention. You get positive feedback, you feel brave, strong, and confident. Just saying it out loud makes you believe you can do it, makes it seem that much closer to reality.

What’s wrong with that? Everything.

Psychologists call that positive feeling you experienced a “social reality,” which simply means your brain gets the same emotional boost from talking about your goal as it does from actually accomplishing it. Ideally you shouldn’t feel that kind of satisfaction until you’ve achieved your dream, but because you’ve already slaked your need for satisfaction, you’re less motivated to bring the dream to actual fruition.

Leap Task #11: Decide and write down who you are going to tell about your dream.

Especially in the beginning, you should tell just a few people—people you know will support you and keep you accountable. Plan to tell them in a way that doesn’t give you any satisfaction—concentrate on how difficult it will be and how you’ll need their help to see it through to completion.

How did you determine who made the list of people you would tell?


6 thoughts on “Leap Challenge Day 11: Choose Who to Tell”

  1. Well, I think I already spilled the beans to anyone reading your blog, so blew that one! :) 

    I would tell my kids.  And my sister.  That is the extent of people if feel I NEED to tell.  They are the short list of people critical to my life.  There are more, but those three are who I tell everything to.

    I do tend to be an open book and share with anyone (maybe too much).  I was considering that I might blog about this experience, what I’m learning about my own motivations.  Perhaps I will rethink that given your post for day 11.

    1. Maybe I should make this Task 1, so people don’t blow it!

      Seriously though, I think the main thing is being aware that talking about what we’re going to do can satisfy our minds as much as actually doing it. That’s the danger. If you steer clear of falling into that trap, you’ll be fine.

  2. My list is determined by who has supported my in the past with pursuing a dream/goal. The people are my husband, especially because he’s the originator
    of this dream, my exercise partner because she is a great accountability
    partner for more than just excerising (plus, we have lots of time to talk when we exercise), and possibly my oldest son (13) because he has some amazing
    insights at times and has been through much of my journey with me.

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