Within the last few weeks I stumbled upon a very short video of a TEDx talk that was titled “Keep your goals to yourself.” With theatrical confidence, the speaker delivered the results of a study that revealed some confusing evidence.
In a series of experiments, groups of people was asked to write down a personal goal. Half of the group announced their goal out loud to the group, and the other half kept the goal to themselves. After this everyone was given 45 minutes to work on their goal, with the term they could stop working at any time.
Interestingly. Those who did not share with the group on average worked the entire 45 minutes, and when asked said they still needed a lot of work to complete their goal. Those who did share with the group stopped working 33 minutes and expressed they felt much closer to achieving their goal.
There are a couple ways to look at this, but he does frame the beginning of the session on other research done by psychologists on social acceptance. That when we share something with another person and they respond positively, there is a feeling of satisfaction similar to completing the task, which in majority of cases led to the goal never actually reaching resolution.
Now everyone is different, but it may be a reasonable assumption to say that most people are not intense spectrum type A personality with abnormal motivation skills. Persons who are driven have an easier time maintaining the connection for motivators with results, whereas so many others live with a “good enough” cruising speed.
Resolutions are goals, and for some weird reason we tend to frame them in time parameters. There are items we even push back because we want to start the new year with a bang. We resolve that to start resolutions it has to be on a certain date.
Going into January of 2017 I had a list of things to accomplish.
- Eliminate large amounts debt.
- Write a book.
- Start a business, or two.
- Woo a shawty.
- Upgrades on my home.
- Lose 10-15 lbs and be more athletic.
- Obtain a professional designation (career advancement).
I hired a financial coach, gained a business partner, chose two accountability people for life items, etc. Main item announcing complete transparency in my entire life. I shared a lot, and never shied away from questions when people asked.
It felt great. So many people offered support, positive encouragement, good advice.
Guess what? None of it happened to the degree that was intended.
- I worked a second job for two and a half months, then stopped because it was exhausting.
- There are incomplete outlines for two book ideas saved on my desktop.
- My online stores were a flop, and I’m officially no longer retailing products.
- Spencer doesn’t have instagram, and the clock is ticking.
- The carport still leaks, and the paint is still faded.
- Double dark chocolate Milano cookies are good.
- Failed a designation exam, and let that lack of motivation sit for a while.
The resolutions I wrote down were not accomplished in their entirety. Yet I will be grateful for progress:
- Paid off about $12,000 in debt within twelve months. Nearly 30% paid off, which is a little better than zero.
- The book ideas compliment long terms goals that I wouldn’t accomplish overnight.
- I’ve learned a lot about e-commerce and small business in general. So even though these didn’t work out, I’ve got other ideas that are being developed using the experience I’ve learned from failure.
- Stopped giving my attention to someone who wasn’t reciprocating. So now I’m going on dates with reckless abandon. Refreshing my memory on Usher and T-Pain lyrics. Re-memorizing musicals. Developing my playa skillz . . . or using my existing playa skillz.
- It’s freaking expensive to do major home updates. Getting rid of the negative balance is a little more important than fresh paint.
- I did lose some weight, even while stocking up on Milanos.
- Re-engaged to pass one exam, and have two more scheduled for the next couple months.
All this to say yes, set goals and resolutions to accomplish . . . but don’t kick yourself that it wasn’t scratched off your list before a certain date. Self improvement comes in phases that don’t always agree with one another. The main point is don’t stop.
Remember the word resolution has two meanings:
- A firm decision to do or not do something.
- The action of solving a problem.
Don’t know about you, but neither one of those explicitly translates for me to say “A to-do list item that you wrote yourself, and you have to feel guilty because you told everyone you would do it before the calendar added another digit to the year and didn’t.” A wordy way to say, keep on keeping on.
Going back go the opening statements regarding the video. This year is gonna be a little different. A professional poker player I follow posts lifestyle vlogs, and he shares development tips frequently. One main point he always mentions is the distinction between setting goals and having intentions. Most of the time when he plays tournaments, or develops challenges . . . he chooses to frame intentions rather than goals in order to minimize the shame factors associated with not reaching them. Sometimes it’s better to focus on progress earned, not progress not earned.
Reminds me of Peter from Dodgeball . . .
So yeah, right now I’m ok with a slightly fast cruise. Several intentions for this year will be just that, intentions. Keep on keeping on.
“Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.” General George S. Patton, Jr.