Skip to main content

A lot of people like sharing their dreams and goals with others but should they be doing that? The truth is the more we share with others in many cases the less likely we are to follow through.

According to Marwa Azab Ph.D. who wrote for Psychology Today on this topic back in 2018, sharing our goals makes them less achievable. While that might catch some people off guard there is research behind it and it does make a lot of sense. The more aware we make others of our goals and dreams, the less motivation some of us will have to actually do them. 

Azab wrote as follows for Psychology Today in regard:

Making goals and any progress toward implementation generate positive rewarding feelings. In order for these emotions to be motivational until our goals are realized, the reward has to be time-released. Our brain cannot afford to be a logical-mathematical reality machine at all times, that would be too costly. When our brain is tricked into thinking that the goal was achieved, it stops investing energy towards further implementation actions.

When we publicize our goal intentions, and others acknowledge the awesomeness of such “potential” changes, we get our dopamine reward all at once (In a previous post, I discuss how dopamine aids the most resistant type of motivation “want”). The more others admire our goals, the more dopamine rush we get, and the less likely we are to execute the future necessary actions to implement them. 

Therefore, we deplete our “feel good” gas, keeping us from reaching our final destination: our goal. Furthermore, publicizing our intention to succeed gives us a “premature sense of completeness” (1). It signals the brain to move on. If the brain believes that you have reached your goal, it might inhibit the specific brain circuits related to further pursuing this goal.

This is also true if we announce our success prematurely, this stagnates further progress towards the final larger success outcomes (2). That is why many of us might fail after bragging about reaching a sub-goal such as eating a couple of healthy meals. To the brain this means “goal accomplished!”. Even though, our initial goal of losing 30 pounds requires eating 1,000 more healthy meals, working out, and viewing our favorite desserts as poisonous substances.

Secondly, we all have a basic need for competence, which is the basic desire for effectiveness, ability, or success. Much of our behavior is motivated by hope for competence and fear of incompetence (3). This need motivates us to sharpen our skills, change old habits, go to therapy or take new courses. And research shows that the more incompetent we feel, the more we desire to recite our competence goals in front of an audience. The more the audience compliments our identity goals, the less likely we actually work on our goals to become more competent. When we publicly set goals to become a more competent person in area X, our brain gets tricked into thinking that this future competent self is actually our real current self.

Makes a lot of sense now, doesn’t it? We should also consider the fact that some people want to see us fail and we aren’t always as aware of those people as we might think we are. They too can sabotage our intent and make us much less interested in moving forth depending on how they react to the things we tell them. 

We should not waste our time trying to explain the bigger picture we see to others. That in itself won’t do us any good, they won’t see the things we see and are much more preoccupied with their own dreams as is. Don’t get me wrong, if you want advice on something and feel like sharing your dreams will help with that, find someone you trust and have at it but don’t go around boasting about all you’re going to do before you’ve even begun anything.

Instead of trying so hard to prove yourself to others, prove yourself to the only person who matters, YOU. Get things done and then share them with the world, not the other way around. Accomplishments don’t just land on our laps.