There’s an interesting talk on TED about goal setting. Psychologists ran an experiment to see how sharing goals helped with achievement. They found that when you share a goal with others, you then feel the satisfaction of having completed that goal and it makes the goal harder to complete. Getting that satisfaction decreases the perceived reward for finishing.
What can we do to avoid this problem?
Don’t announce your goal. The gratification of social acknowledgment isn’t worth the delay in achieving it.
As Derek Sivers says in the video, you need to “understand that your mind mistakes the talking for the doing”.
If you do talk about your goal, say it in a way that won’t give you satisfaction. For example: “If I really want to write this book, I need to work on it every day first thing in the morning.”
What this really comes down to is having a big goal that is very generalized and that you don’t talk about. This goes against conventional wisdom that says to tell everyone what your goals are so that you are forced to achieve them.
In other words, don’t say what you are going to do. Say what you are doing. Thus, you wouldn’t say you’re going to write a book because that’s not what you are doing. If you worked on the book today, you are writing a book. If you didn’t work on the book today, you are not.
How Should We Share Our Writing Goals?
There are different kinds of goals. “I want to write a series of novels” is different than “I want to become enough of a writer that I can do it for a living”. But these are both goals. Saying either of those things is going to hold you up.
Notice what published writers say on their blogs. They don’t say they are going to write another book. They say they are working on one. Their existing books tell us they are going to finish. They avoid the trap. And you can too.
Take Sivers advice and only say what you’ve done already and what you are doing now. Let your listeners draw their own conclusions.
I’d like to believe I’ve got the message but it still seems weird somehow. Does anyone see a better way to look at this problem?
Article by Ivan Izo.