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We all have goals. Some of us want to be more outgoing. Some of us want to raise our Pikachu to level 100. If we want to achieve these goals, however, it might be best to keep them to ourselves.
According to a recent study, sharing our aspirations makes us less likely to attain them. The findings, featured in a TEDTalk by entrepreneur and musician Derek Sivers, reveal one of the fascinating ways in which the mind works. Researchers tested 163 subjects across four trials, instructing each to write down a personal goal. Half the participants announced their objective, while the rest kept silent. The subjects were then given forty-five minutes to work toward their goal, after which they described how close they felt to achieving it. The results? Those who had shared their aspirations worked for thirty minutes on average, while those who had not spoken worked for almost the full amount of time. Moreover, participants who had shared their goals reported feeling significantly more accomplished and closer to success than their counterparts, who told the researchers there remained much work to be done.
These experiments suggest that our minds see announcing a goal as partially accomplishing it. The act of sharing our aims tricks our brains into believing we are closer to achieving them, giving us a false sense of success and leading us to invest less effort towards making them happen. Though confiding in others may make us happy, it comes at a loss of efficiency.
This is not the first time researchers have noticed these phenomena. As far back as 1933, psychologists were aware of the mind’s tendency to consider something acknowledged by others as true. Pioneers in social psychology noted that others’ behavior influences our perceptions, often leading to peculiar conclusions. Strange as it may seem, the subtlest of social cues can change the way we see the world.
Does this mean we should never share our goals? Not necessarily. To many a decrease in productivity may seem a small price to pay for the social and emotional benefits of confiding in others. It is also important to consider the potential side effects of keeping our hopes secret—friends and family can offer valuable insight and support, the absence of which may harm efficiency. Regardless, the findings shed light on the complex workings of the human mind. As usual, it seems the brain works in ways more intricate than we can imagine.
So what do you think about sharing goals? Is it strange that tiny things subconsciously change the way we behave? Let me know in the comments section below! As always, please like, share, or reblog this post if you enjoy it. Be sure to check me out on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for new content every Wednesday!
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Comment question of the week
Have you noticed how small things can change the way we think?