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The Definitive Answer To: Should I Keep My Goals a Secret?

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Should I Keep My Goals a Secret?

It’s on ongoing debate in the productivity space as to whether goals (and missions in life) should be kept a secret or loudly broadcast for everyone to hear. Almost every week I read a new article backed by another study or a behavioural science analysis that says that yes, we should tell everyone, or no, we should keep quiet about our goals to improve our chances of achieving them. So which is it?

The Simple Answer

Extrovert

The simple answer, is this: it depends.

A shortcut we’ve found to work quite well is if you are an introvert, you should generally keep quiet about your goals. If you are an extrovert, tell everyone about your goals – multiple times and loudly.

The reasons why are straightforward.

If you are an introvert, when you’re on the receiving end of social pressure from the people around you to pursue your goal, you’re likely to retreat inside of yourself and not go after the goal until people stop reminding you about it.

If you are an extrovert, when you get the same social pressure, you’re more likely to come out swinging and push yourself to reach your goals.

A More Complex Answer

Introvert

In reality, we’re actually all introvert/extrovert combinations to one degree or another.

For example, I see myself as mostly an introvert with a few developed extrovert characteristics. And in line with what we just discussed above, I generally do not discuss my goals except with maybe a couple of really close friends – you most definitely won’t find my goals broadcast loudly on my Facebook Timeline. What I am happy to publicly broadcast though is our mission here at Asian Efficiency, which is to make the world a more productive place, one person at a time.

The important thing here is not so much who you tell or how many people you tell about your goals, but to know what your preference is and which one makes you work better. And of course, to remember to keep pursuing your goal no matter what.

Another distinguishing question that you can ask yourself is this:

  • Do I get more satisfaction when people cheer me along and then celebrate with me when I reach my goal?
  • Or, do I get more satisfaction when I’ve completed a goal “in secret” and then choose to celebrate its completion with a few close friends?

And… that is the short and simple version of whether or not you should share your goals with others.

What do you do? Let us know in the comments!

Where to Go Next

If you’d like to find out more about goal setting, check out our articles on Goals or sign up for Premium Newsletters (future issues are free for subscribers, past issues are available here).

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4 Comments

Posted by Krishna Prasad V  | January 13, 2014 at 12:54AM | Reply

Whether a person is an introvert or an extrovert, publicizing the goal will push the limits of a person to achieve it, at least to uphold the self image since people will be asking about it (it may even be for fun!).

Posted by Kosio Angelov  | December 11, 2013 at 1:15PM | Reply

I actually think it does not depend on who you are but what your goals are and how much motivation you need to achieve them.

For smaller, easier to achieve goals, keep to yourself, no need to let the world know what you are up to.

For bigger, harder goals, let everyone know. This way you feel a little more accountable and you might also draw some motivation from your social circle when (hopefully) they cheer you on.

Posted by Januz  | December 7, 2013 at 2:29AM | Reply

Thanks for the article. I consider myself an introvert and I prefer to keep my secrets to myself…

One smartass comment as I see this mistake all over: The psychologically and linguistically correct terms are intrOvert and extrAvert. The personality dimension intro- vs. extraversion was termed by C.G. Jung in 1921. Linguistically, the words are Latin (intro = into; extra = out of; vertere = to turn towards something); there is no Latin word “extro”. Sorry…

Posted by Lulu  | December 6, 2013 at 6:09PM | Reply

I would say I’m an introvert, and for me it depends on how “personal” the goal feels.
Eg for a simple sporting goal of “train for and complete sprint triathlon Q1 2013”, I told everyone, as their ongoing questions helped keep me focused and on track.
But other stuff, if it hurts if I don’t achieve it, then I keep that to myself (and a very small group of close friends).

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