Setting off to do things I can’t disclose…

© Natalia Martinez

Based on this 5-minute TED talk, I have decided to take on 30-day challenges. As I tend to do, I am firmly planted in my logic that “I can do almost anything for 30 days,” a close relative of what our coxswain used to yell in intramural crew practice “You can do anything for the next 20 seconds.” Despite being a blatant psychological crutch with a dash of underhanded self-deception, I’ve decided this logic is healthy. More importantly – as attested to in the video, it has the potential to propel us forward, give us new habits, empower us to try new things or (actually) stick with old ones.

Now, I know this will seem anticlimactic, but I can’t actually share what my 30-day objectives are! To explain this logic, here is another TED talk of the short-but-enlightening kind. The idea presented in it is that we shouldn’t share out goals! Although it sounded a bit counterintuitive to me (I assumed that sharing one’s objectives made one feel more accountable for them), psychologists have found that sharing your goals makes you less likely to follow through with them.

Why? Because people usually respond positively to our stated intentions, making us feel content even before we have actually. done. any.thing.

The warm feeling we get from having social approval/acknowledgement of our goals makes us too happy, thus replacing the feeling of urgency and the awareness of the hard work that the intentions-into-reality trick usually requires.  It makes us complacent.

So I guess I will report back only after the next 30 days have passed! 🙂

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2 responses to “Setting off to do things I can’t disclose…

  1. You know, having not yet seen the TED talk, I find this wholly believable. Ofr instance, when I say to people “I’m TRYING to make the national rowing team,” I get huge accolades, as if I’ve already achieved SOMETHING, when, in fact, I have achieved nothing. My reactions diverge a bit from those you describe.

    While yes, I do get some sense of pride and happiness from these responses to my stated goals, I don’t know if I feel complacent when I hear them. At least, not in the sense of “Oh, I’m putting in the time. How good of me.” In fact, I feel extreme pressure and get anxious. Perhaps it is the “OOOh, the NATIONAL team?!” response that makes me have a sense of shame or guilt, because of my uncertainty regarding my goal. There is a part of me that doesn’t know if (or, more importantly) doesn’t believe that) I can do what I have set out to do. And so saying my goals out loud doesn’t make me lazy, it makes me terrified. Because I don’t know if it’s doable, or, even if it is, if I have the mental foirtitude to accept that I can do something great and push myself to achieve that thing. Maybe, in that sense, my saying my goal out loud is to frighten myself into GETTING AFTER IT, rather than folding. Or sometimes, I fold. I am caught in a realm of uncertainty between these reactionary extremes, it seems.

    But, maybe my experience still provides similar lesson(s). First, don’t say your goals out loud, period. Or, choose your goals wisely. Or, choose your goals and, whether or not you publish them, see them through to whatever end, and don’t second-guess every step you take. Forge ahead. 30 days at a time, I suppose.

    Good luck! Have fun!

  2. I have successfully done this to change my habits! It’s awesome! Except I only did 21 days, as was recommended elsewhere… good luck!

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