TED Talks: ‘Keep Your Goals to Yourself’

UPDATED: April 12, 2020
PUBLISHED: February 1, 2017
success ted talk

It could be a TV show, an outing with friends or a three-hour YouTube binge—somehow, instant gratification finds a way to reach us. And when it comes to choosing between getting your work done or doing something even slightly more fun, it’s known to boost procrastination.

Related: ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’

But did you know instant gratification can also keep you from getting started on your goals? Like, ever?

In this TED Talk, Derek Sivers, creator of MuckWork, explains why announcing your goals to others causes you to stall out rather than speed ahead—and it has a lot to do with your social circle.

“Imagine their congratulations, and their high image of you,” Sivers says. “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?”

Except that feeling doesn’t push you to attack the goal. When you receive the praise before the work, it actually strips you of the desire to get started, tricking your mind into thinking you’ve already succeeded, he says.

Related: 4 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals

“So if this is true, what can we do? Well, you could resist the temptation to announce your goal. You can delay the gratification that the social acknowledgment brings, and you can understand that your mind mistakes the talking for the doing.”

Or, Sivers also suggests, you could stop the premature praise in its tracks by giving your friends a rundown of all the work you have to do to reach your goal—just to remind yourself that this is only the beginning:

“I really want to run this marathon, so I need to train five times a week, and kick my ass if I don”t, OK?”

Related: 9 Ways to Achieve Your Biggest Goals—Quickly

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics—from science to business to global issues—in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. See more at TED.com.