IT IS THAT TIME OF THE YEAR: closing goals, measuring achievements and setting new ones. Organisations and individuals are immersed on those activities for a number of reasons, from collecting their bonuses to engaging with their purpose. While I am as well dealing with such matters, one of the ladies who attended my groups in DrivenWoman along 2018 sent me a text reflecting on one of the topics we covered in our monthly meetings: “Share your Goals”. Is it sharing your goals helping you to achieve them or the opposite?
In business or organisations' world this question at first seems to have a clear answer: YES! You should share your goals as they are an expression of your strategy and furthermore of the vision of the company or institution. If the goals are not shared, teams cannot jointly work to achieve them. On a second thought though… is this how companies behave? I have seen cases of the opposite, especially looking into senior management’s ways of working. In many companies, teams do not have transparency about their superiors’ goals. Let’s put aside the arguments about more pragmatic reasons for this to happen, which could or not be related to how transparent is a specific reward system. I will stick with the original question: is it sharing your goals helping you to achieve them or not? If the answer is yes, then all companies should be doing that at all levels. Here is when the discussion gets interesting: you can find articles and studies expressing totally contradictory results and conclusions. Even if based on numbers, experiments, research, psychological studies, etc. How come? By connecting with deeper feelings at the individual level, we may start to understand it. Visualize that important thing you have been aiming for: that new job, that promotion, that relationship of your dreams, those aspects of your self development. Do you still feel like sharing your goals? Or do you feel a certain discomfort
Here is what I propose on how to deal with this: start with the WHY! Why in this case is a simple way to question your intention. Why do you have that goal in the first place? Why is it important? What does it mean to you to share it? Do you need support? It is important to clarify the intention behind your goals. In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, Stephen R. Covey says "Begin with the End in Mind®“. I train constantly in doing that and that in within the basis for my work in creating effective workplaces in environment of diversity. Here is a simple way to do that and get to know why (and when) to share your goals:
1. Am I sharing this goal because someone told me to do so? Then don’t, just yet. Go to the next question.
2. Am I sharing this goal in search for any sort of immediate gratification or recognition? Be honest here, there is no magic for success or achievement, if you do not look inside yourself or are honest about your plans or the ones of your organisation, please do not waste others’ time in sharing them. If not the case, go to the next question.
3. Am I an introvert? Do I like to keep my goals to myself and actually this empowers me? This might be you. In that case, I would encourage you to step out of your comfort zone but not before you go deeper into the analysis of what does that mean for you. Ask for the advice of a skilful someone you trust. The questions ahead might be of help.
4. Am I committed to my goal? If yes, there is a basis for a good reason to share. Check next questions. If not, you do not really have a goal to share.
5. Am I sharing this goal because I want to be hold accountable for it? If so, think about whom you are sharing it with. Be sure the person or group whom you are sharing your goal with care about you and about your goal. Assess if he, she or they are willing to help you to be hold accountable for it. Confirm if you are in a safe environment. Just then do it.
6. Am I sharing the goals because I need help to achieve them? That is a very good reason but requires again that you assess whom you are sharing this with, in order to get the expected help. If the people you have chosen don’t have the skills or resources to help you, this sharing will probably not be effective.
7. In the case of organisations: does my organisation has an environment and processes in place that support teamwork and transparency? If not, why again are you sharing your goals (or why are you even working there!)? If yes, you probably need to share as part of your path to achievement.
In summary, the arguments against sharing goals are that there is a psychological effect in doing so which is negative to the efforts on achieving them. You feel already half-way done when you share, you collect complements just for having a goal defined and such situation fills you up with temporary satisfaction and sense of achievement. People do work hard and end up not achieving their goals. Social media makes it worse, because it emphasises the short-term satisfaction and good image feelings creating more laziness or simply destroying the commitment to actually go out in the real world and make it happen.
The arguments in favor talk about gaining accountability and support by sharing your goals and therefore making the path of achievement a more reliable, robust one, and to motivate you. You commit to yourself and to the external world, so you create a positive cycle that leverages your efforts. You work harder, you are more determinate, you are even more confident since you gathered support. Your chances of achievement rise.
My learning is that once you have carefully checked the WHY, you will probably have a good answer about if it makes (or not) sense sharing your goals. Then it is time to work. After intention, comes effort. Only then achievement. That nourishes all my work, especially the part most related to mind-set change, so this little sharing of mine connects deeply with my believes. I find it helpful in all aspects of my life.
Insights that brought this article to life and useful links:
My insights come from my work on the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® and on making things in my life more meaningful following the teachings of Kadampa. Mostly my 25 years experience as a change leader within and without big corporations have as well shaped my opinions and way to approach my challenges. This article was inspired by a sharing of one of the ladies participating in one of my groups in DrivenWoman. Some of the links below, she has passed on to me, some come from my own research, once I got inspired.
More on similar views.
Where to find help to be hold accountable: the best way for me is to have a coach. Click coach for a recommended one, but there are many. You can find an online or offline community, for instance, if you are a woman you can join us the Doers Academy or be in our living groups.
More on arguments on not sharing goals.
Setting powerfully goals for 2019 workshop using Completion and "Futurability" in Zürich.
Help on setting goals.