You hear it all the time:

Share your goals. You need accountability. Without that, they won’t happen.

I disagree.

And so does some research.

I started noticing this anecdotally for myself at first.

When I shared a goal with those around me, I found I was much more likely to procrastinate, or simply not do it.

When I actually kept it secret, I was more excited about it, got it done faster, and was more creative and productive when I was working towards it.

So, as I do, I started to experiment with it and actually test it out in my life.

And the effect was undeniable.

Then I started noticing it in others too — the more I heard someone talk about their goal, the less likely they were to actually achieve it.

And then I came across this TED talk from Derek Sivers called Keep Your Goals To Yourself, and this paper in Psychological Science called When Intentions Go Public that talks specifically about identity-related goals.

Here’s the gyst of what I’ve discovered to be true for myself (and many others):

When you start to share your goals or intentions with people, particularly when they’re related to a sense of your own identity, you get a little boost.

It’s the same kind of boost you get when you actually achieve your goal, just a smaller version of it.

The problem is, that boost reduces your drive to actually achieve what you set out to do, especially if you share your goal regularly (you’re getting little hits each time you share it with someone else, so it feels as you’ve already achieved it).

So here’s what I’ve found works really well for me — you may want to try it out yourself:

I’ve found I can either keep my goals a secret until I’ve achieved them, or if I really want to share, I can just tell people I’m working on something, without giving any details.

Both of those options leave me feeling excited, inspired, more creative and more productive.

As always, I recommend testing this out for yourself to see what’s true for you. We’re all different. And I’d love to hear how it goes for you — just send me a note.