Goal Setting

Read enough popular books, blogs and magazines on fitness and you’ll inevitably stumble across a piece on goal setting.

Much of the information presented is correct – make them measurable, specific and have a timeline. So far, so good.

There is another well-intentioned tip to help you achieve said goal: tell people about what you want to achieve.

The idea behind this tip is to hold you accountable. In other words, by telling your friends, family and work colleagues your ambitions they will motivate you and keep you on track if you start to deviate.

While this sounds good in theory, a recent study proposes that this is not the case.

In fact, the researchers suggest that the opposite is true – those who told others their goals were less likely to achieve them.

Initially this does not make sense – surely the more people who know what your goal is the more help, guidance and motivation you can get?

And no one wants to be seen as a failure, correct?

Psychology Professor Peter Gollwitzer would disagree. He is the primary author of the article ‘When intentions go public: does social reality widen the intention-behaviour gap?’

According to his research, people who keep their intentions to themselves are more likely to achieve their goals than those who announce them.

Our brains struggle to differentiate between ‘reality’ and ‘imaginary’, and also between ’talking’ and ‘doing’.

It seems that when we tell someone what we want to do, and they acknowledge it, we start to feel good about it.

We also feel that we are already closer to our goals than we are.

These good feelings diminish the drive to pursue the goal and we quit sooner than we would have.

So next time you set yourself a goal, keep it to yourself and bask in the glory once you have achieved it, not before.

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