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When to Set Goals Publicly vs Privately

My mom always told me, “If you’re doing something, you don’t need to tell everyone you’re doing it. They’ll know.”  It was the perfect ‘my mother’ way of saying, ‘actions speak louder than words.’

That concept has always had a profound effect on the way I carry myself through the world. Because of it, I noticed even as an adolescent how much some people talked and how little they did. I knew at a very young age that I never wanted to be that way, and so, I mostly kept things to myself. I would submit a piece of writing to a literary magazine and no one would know but me. I would start setting aside money for a trip I wanted to take that no one knew I was planning. I would start a hush-hush new fitness kick and hope the results would speak for themselves. I didn’t want to be known as the girl who talked so much that she never had time to actually do anything.

I see now, though, that perhaps I had taken my mother’s advice to an extreme. That while there are certainly things you can do just for you, there are also times when setting goals more publicly can be really beneficial.

For most of us, there’s a certain sense of accountability that comes with publicly declaring a goal. Having our friends, family or colleagues knowing what we have planned acts as a sort of encouragement to follow through. Maybe for you that means having a fitness challenge with your family or roommates, or posting your fitness journey on instagram. Maybe you’re working on a novel and a trusted friend gives you deadlines and reads each installment. Whatever it may be, there are occasions where you feel no shame in having people, with all their expectations, there to keep you on track.

However, there’s something to be said for keeping some goals to yourself as well. Not everyone is keen on letting every little failure be known to the world (not that there’s anything shameful about failure! Any path you’re on is sure to be littered with it from time to time.) Maybe you applied for a new job and you’d rather not share until you hear back. Or you want to study a new subject or learn a new instrument. There are some goals that feel a little too personal to share with the world. And that’s okay! It’s healthy, in fact, to keep some things just for you. But quiet goals can sometimes be a little harder to achieve. They are easier to let fall to the bottom of the list because, well, no one would be the wiser! So, instead, write them down. Jot them in a journal or on a post it that you hang in your bedroom or on your bathroom mirror. Set deadlines and then give yourself rewards for meeting those deadlines. And then when you have something to show for it, something your ready to share with the world, let everyone know what a sneaky overachiever you have been!

There’s no wrong way to do it. Some thrive under the pressure of public goal setting while some prefer making moves with quiet dignity. And others believe that different situations call for different methods. Whichever type of person you are, doesn’t matter much either way. As long as you’re out there doing, you should hold your high knowing that you’re a person of action! And you’re only getting closer to achieving your goals. 

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