Welcome, welcome, everybody to today’s episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast where I’m gonna talk about public versus private goals, and I’m gonna tie in some stuff about social media and accountability.
So, this episode of the podcast is really inspired by two things. Number one: a lot of you have asked me about the science behind telling people about your goals. Like, should you tell people? Should you not tell people? There are some people in the self-help industry who are like, “Keep your goals private! Work on you! Da-da-da!” And some people are like, “Tell everybody. Have them hold you accountable.” So, that’s part one.
Then, the other thing is that I got a really interesting remark-slash-question in a Q&A lately where someone asked me if I thought my goals were easier because I had a sense of social media accountability. So, because I have 17,000 people who are watching me achieve my goals, do I feel like that sense of accountability makes it easier for me than it would be for an average person to achieve their goals.
I want to clarify something before we go into sort of the advice-giving portion of this podcast. That is that I have two very large goals for this year that I’m not discussing on social media and that I have chosen to keep to myself, and I think that, while I believe in transparency and while I want to be honest with you all, there are some things that I am going through that are gonna be very personal to me, and there are things that I simply do not want to share. And so, if you’re watching me on Instagram and if you feel like you’re my best friend, and if you feel like you know everything about me, I just want to invite you to check yourself in this moment because that sense of false relationship isn’t healthy for me and it’s not healthy for you either because it means that you are making assumptions about your life based on an idea of me that is probably incorrect.
So, let me articulate it one more time. There are so many things that you all don’t know about, about my life, about me, about my personality, about what’s going on, and like I said, I have two very big goals this year that I will achieve that I will never talk about publicly or I might talk about them after they’re done. And so, that really brings me into a conversation about sort of the benefits and drawbacks of telling other people about your goals versus the benefits and drawbacks of keeping them to yourself.
So, let’s start with the benefits of telling other people about your goal. There is a good amount of research arguing that social support is really important for goal achievement. So, when we are in communities and when we are surrounded by people that we feel know about our goal and are going to help us get there, we are more likely to feel the self-efficacy that we need to feel in order to achieve it.
On the other hand, if you flip over to the other side, for some people, telling other people about their goal can add an unnecessary sense of pressure. And so, all of a sudden, this goal that you really wanted, this goal that was very intrinsic, this goal that came from you, from a genuine, very honest place, all of a sudden that switches. The tone of it kind of changes because you’ve told so many people about it that now you feel like you’re sort of forced into it and you sort of have to do it. So, I think there is a very, very fine line and there is a difference between, ”I’m telling people about my goals because I will have to do it if I tell people,” and, “I’m telling people about my goals because if I do that they will support me in different ways.”
So, that is a question that I want you to ask yourself before you tell another person about your goals. Why (what is the driving motivation here) and what can I do to focus this disclosure on support, not necessarily on peer accountability and I want you to be after me if I don’t achieve this, da-da-da-da-da. Okay?
Now, I want to talk about the benefits of keeping your goal private. The benefits of keeping your goal private or sharing with a very small group of people is that you really are doing the work for yourself and only yourself. So, it essentially removes that should, right? It removes that, “I’m gonna get some kind of social capital or some kind of reward from achieving this goal.” So, if you go out and blast that everybody’s gonna know that you’re gonna run a half marathon, maybe everybody in your life who’s a runner is gonna be like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” and you’re gonna get this huge sense of reward from that, versus if you were to keep that goal to yourself, it might be more of you doing it for you, not for the visibility or for the approval or for the permission of anybody else.
So, if you are choosing whether or not to keep your goal private or to share your goal publicly, I would ask yourself: “How much do I need to disclose in order to get the support that’s going to help me without disclosing so much that I am kind of looking for validation or permission from others?”
So, that is what I have for you today. I hope this was helpful. Like I said, I’m not gonna share those goals. I’m not gonna take questions about them, so please don’t DM me about them. That is a boundary that I have chosen to draw. But I hope you do recognize that there are always gonna be things that people aren’t sharing, and I think that’s a good lesson for us all to keep in mind across multiple dimensions of our lives.