If you want to meet your law practice goals, is it better to share your goals with others or keep them to yourself?
The prevailing wisdom has been to keep your dreams and plans close to the vest and not put them out there for public consumption and criticism.
But recent research from Ohio State University suggests just the opposite – that the best strategy is to share your goals. However, this only works if the person is someone you respect or has a higher professional status than you, according to CNBC.
“You want to be dedicated and unwilling to give up on your goal, which is more likely when you share that goal with someone you look up to,” says the lead researcher at OSU’s Fisher School of Business. “If you don’t care about the opinion of whom you tell, it doesn’t affect your desire to persist — which is really what goal commitment is all about.”
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The “keep your goals secret” strategy was expressed in a 2010 TED Talk by entrepreneur Derek Shivers. In the talk, which went viral, Sivers said when you share your goals with others, you feel ‘less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary’ to achieve them,” according to CNBC.
The Ohio State researchers wanted to test that theory. They designed a series of experiments in which several hundred students were told to set goals regarding grades they hoped to make in the upcoming semester. The students then shared their goals with a “lab assistant.” One group of students was told the assistant was a doctoral-level student. Another group was told the assistant was a student employee at a community college. A third group shared their goals with nobody.
“When the study participants shared their target goal with the so-called doctoral-level student, they were more likely to reach their goal,” the researchers found. “On the flip side, those who relayed their goals to the individual who they believed was a community college student did not perform better. Similarly, the group who didn’t tell their goal to anyone also didn’t see any improvement.”
Why was this so? Researchers posited that sharing your goal with a higher-up helps keep you accountable. It also makes you more motivated, because you care what that person thinks of you.
Three Takeaways for Your Practice
- Find a mentor. Share your professional aspirations with someone you respect and who has more experience than you.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Don’t let someone else’s negativity, envy or insecurity put a damper on your dreams.
- Relax. When you share your goals with someone you admire, you might end up putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Anxiety builds because you want to impress them and not be seen as a failure in their eyes. Fight this feeling. Work hard, do your best, and don’t worry what others think.
What tips do you have for setting – and achieving – goals?
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