2012, Goal-Setting, and Secrets

Tell me what you want to hear
Something that will light those ears
Sick of all the insincere
I’m gonna give all my secrets away…

I’ve set goals for years, and for years beyond that I’ve made random announcements about “things I’m going to do,” things that aren’t quite goals, but somehow end up being public commitments:

  • Spend a whole year in one book of the bible
  • Get a new guitar
  • Give up TV
  • Exercise religiously
  • Etc, etc.

I was always amazed that I could actually begin these activities and make some progress, but the moment I actually told someone about them, I would lose momentum, and quickly stop. It was almost mathematical: start project in relative secrecy and make good progress + announce what I’m doing to some friends = lose momentum and stop.

This made no sense to me, then I stumbled across this TedTalk. Turns out that there’s something set loose in our brain that—and this is significant—equates the announcing of a goal with the accomplishment of a goal. It’s like your own body working against you. We announce our goals in order to gain support from our community, but simultaneously our own physiology may be saying, “Whew! Good job! Glad that’s over!”

So when you’re setting your goals, be discerning. Don’t tell everything. Keep one or two back for yourself. Get support from your community, but also recognize that some things are better left between you and God.

When you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you… When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything will reward you. (Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, Ch 6)

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4 thoughts on “2012, Goal-Setting, and Secrets

  1. There is a debate among fiction writers about whether we should talk about novels as we write them. Most say no, but some say process what’s going on with other people. This post sounds like a pretty good argument for the no position.

  2. Pingback: My (Half) Day as a Monk « eric case

  3. Pingback: hello, skeletons « my two happy feet

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