We’re well in to a series of posts about Goals here, so if you haven’t read the earlier posts you can start from the introduction to goals here.
Last time we looked at how regularly reviewing your goals and the steps you’re taking towards them are the best way to keep yourself on track. This time I want to give you another tip for achieving your goals as quickly as possible.
I would recommend sharing your goals. Tell other people about them. Don’t necessarily blurt it out as soon as you introduce yourself to someone new, but be prepared to tell people about it as and when it seems appropriate. Definitely tell your close friends and loved ones. Maybe tell other people if it crops up in conversation.
Evidence against this
I feel that straight up I should mention that there are many articles on the net, and even a TED talk about how sharing goals makes you less likely to achieve them. They advise against telling people about your goals, citing scientific research that sharing goals has reduced subject’s success rate.
I’m not really qualified to write a full scale refutation of these studies. But the advice just doesn’t sit well with me and I need to at least explain why.
The kind of goals we’ve been talking about in this blog are huge, life changing ambitions. They’re going to affect people in your life and they’re going to require help from outside, even if it’s just support and understanding. We’re not talking about losing 10 lb or joining the gym here. We’re talking devoting years to studying music or pursuing a career or trying to change the world. You’re not going to do this on your own.
Because of this, I feel that keeping your goal to yourself and trying to work on it in secret is not going to be the most effective way of achieving it.
Benefits of sharing your goal
The first benefit of telling people about your goal is that it makes it a public commitment. This is the benefit that the studies mentioned above criticise. They say it’s counter-productive, but for me it’s important. If I haven’t told anyone about my goal or plan it’s too easy just to give up on it if it gets hard. If I’ve told people I feel I have to see it through. Maybe not everyone is like that – some people are much better at starting things than finishing them – but for me I have to see things through to the end, especially if I think other people will judge me by it.
Other people can help you
The second and most important benefit of sharing your goal is that you may find people who can help you. It’s kind of obvious that people can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re trying to do.
In talking about my Strictly Come Dancing goal and my various steps towards it I’ve had loads of help. The parent of one of my students offered to introduce me to members of staff on the show who are friends of theirs. Other musicians have given me learning material and practice resources that will help with musicals. Teachers have tailored their advice towards the skills I will need for the specific type of gigs I’m looking for.
This help can come from the most unexpected sources. A chat with a family friend who has nothing to do with musical theatre uncovered that his best friend is a theatre producer. He put me in touch with the guy and he gave me a whole load of advice which really helped the early stages of my preparation and resulted in a gig offer.
Support and understanding
Another benefit of sharing your goal is that family and friends will be more understanding when you make decisions that affect them because you’re working towards your goal. My partner has been wonderfully supportive about me leaving the country for two months to play on a cruise ship even though she doesn’t like us being apart for that long. She knows what I’m working towards and why it’s the right thing for me to be doing. She actually encouraged me to take the gig. People can’t support you that way if they don’t know why the decisions you’re making are so important to you.
Don’t expect too much
Obviously not everyone is going to suddenly bend over backwards to help you in your quest. Some people won’t be able to help at all. Some people won’t even be very interested. That’s OK. It only takes one or two people to help, a few nuggets of information, contacts or connections here and there. Even if only one in 50 people can offer you any help, that’s still more help than you had before.
I should quickly clarify that just because people might help you, that doesn’t mean you should go around asking everyone for help. Just tell them about your goal, if it’s appropriate and relevant to the conversation. Say what you’re doing and why. How you’re doing it and why you’re passionate about it. If they can help and they want to then they’ll offer. But don’t go asking everyone for help. That’s just a bit too pushy.
There’s a slightly different situation where you’ve identified someone who specifically has or knows something that can help you and you want to approach them about it. Then you’re not just sharing your goal, you’re asking for help, and that’s a whole different conversation.
As I said before, achieving your goal is unlikely to be something you can do alone, but if people are going to help you they need to know what you are aiming for. So tell them what it is.