Sharing Goal Reduces One’s Chance of Attaining It

After a long session of drafting a whole new plan you fell in love with – you reached out to friends and relatives to announce your dream. You also went on social media e.g. facebook, twitter; to make public your newly devised plan for greatness.

Undoubtedly, you did enjoy the status of that moment when you talked about what you are going to do. Well-wishers see you as another fellow that has a reason for living. It makes one feel big. But, months later, when friends approach you to know how far you’ve gone with your plan – you fetch for reasons to justify your failures to work on your goals.

What could have earned you the failure? Isn’t that a product of ‘lost of motivation?’ If so, What led to that?

Sharing your goals gives you a deceptive impression of progress, thereby stealing and killing your motivation, according to NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer who conducted four tests in a German university and as written in the article ‘When Intentions Go Public.’

Researcher set up four different tests, consisting of 163 psychology and law students. The participants were made to write down their personal goals, and half of them mandated to announce their commitment to the room, while the other shouldn’t. They were given 45 minutes to work on their respective goals, making it known to them that they have the freedom to stop at any time.

Those that never made public their goals worked the entire 45 minutes on average, having it in mind that they had a long way to go before their goal would be achieved. While those that announced their goals worked only for 33 minutes on average, with the feeling that they were much closer to achieving their goals.

According to Gollwitzer, saying you’re going to do something makes your brain feel you are already there i.e. it creates the same identity symbols you’d get from actually doing it. Thus, your motivation is stolen by the excitement you got the first time you made it public.

Positive self-descriptions made in public qualify as powerful identity symbols and having an audience for behavioral intentions that specify the successful performance of an identity-relevant activity should have the same symbolic impact. (Gollwitzer, Wicklund, & Hilton, 1982).

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