• Gina Greenlee, Author

Keep Your Dreams To Yourself

Updated: Mar 15, 2019



In one of my favorite TED talks, entrepreneur Derek Sivers instructs the audience on why keeping your goals to yourself makes you more likely to achieve them:

“Everyone, please think of your biggest personal goal. For real – you can take a second. You’ve got to feel this to learn it…Imagine deciding right now that you’re going to do it. Imagine telling someone that you meet today what you’re going to do. Imagine their congratulations and their high image of you. Doesn’t it feel good to say it out loud? Don’t you feel one step closer already, like it’s already becoming part of your identity?


“Well, bad news: you should have kept your mouth shut,” Sivers tells his audience, “because that good feeling now will make you less likely to do it.

“Repeated psychology tests have proven that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. Any time you have a goal, there’s some work that needs to be done in order to achieve it. Ideally, you would not be satisfied until you had actually done the work. But when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, psychologists have found that it’s called a ‘social reality.’


“The mind is tricked into feeling that it’s already done. And then, because you felt that satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary. So this goes against the conventional wisdom that we should tell our friends our goals so they hold us to it.”

“Most of us do not know what we cannot do until someone tells us,” writes Iyanla Vanzant in Acts of Faith.



“We are willing to try almost anything,


go anywhere,


stretch ourselves to the limits in pursuit of our dreams.

“And then we talk to other people,” writes Vanzant. “We are reminded of how dangerous it may be, how ridiculous it sounds, what a chance we are taking. People have no problem informing us of all the downsides and pitfalls; they cannot see how we will ever reach the goal. They put us in touch with our faults, limitations and habits. They remind us of all the others who didn’t make it, and in vivid detail they tell us why. They give us warnings, cautions and helpful hints about alternative things we can do. When they are finished, we have been effectively talked right out of our dreams.”

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