Keep your goals to yourself

Keep Your Goals to Yourself

This time last month, the blogosphere was buzzing with talk of goals for the New Year.

Some big. Others small. A few doomed to fail because people’s hearts weren’t in it, but they felt the need to join in. For so many, most of these goals have already fizzled out from a lack of discipline, direction or simply giving enough of a damn. But I suspect many of us have something in mind that won’t fizzle out quite so easily. We have the kinds of goals that speak to us on the gut level, even if we don’t quite know how to talk back yet.

And I’m here to tell you, if you’ve got one of those big, scary, possibly life-altering goals that—even after the hype of the New Year is long gone—you really want to see fulfilled this year, keep it to yourself.

I get it—you want support. You need accountability. And yeah, putting it in writing and broadcasting it to the world makes it feel real.

But you know what else feels real? Quietly putting in the work. Every single day. Not seeking validation from people with pesky little opinions about what it is you’re trying to accomplish or whether you’re cut out for it. You know what sharing your goals with the world really is? A distraction. A subconscious attempt at seeking permission and praise. A mind trick that makes you feel as if you’ve already taken the most difficult step by admitting your plans when in fact the hardest part is getting started—and not quitting when you get stuck.

You’d think putting it out there will hold you accountable—or at the very least, guilt you into following through on your proclamation because you can’t take it back. But the world doesn’t hold you accountable for anything, except maybe taxes. If it’s something you truly want, you don’t need an audience to get motivated. You need a plan of attack. And when that plan gets shot to hell (even the best-laid plans can fall apart when they’re passion-driven), you need to decide to keep hacking away regardless.

I’ll make one concession, because we could all use someone to tell us we’re not batshit insane for chasing the dream. One person: a friend, a partner, a coach or mentor, someone whose advice you trust and who will remind you why you got into this mess when you’re knee-deep in self-doubt. One person who gets what it is you’re after is way more valuable than a noisy crowd of strangers.

All the rest? It’s on you.


Get the newsletter

Sign up to get love letters, good reads, writing deadlines & more delivered to your inbox every week!

powered by TinyLetter

And don't forget to follow WTH on Twitter, Facebook & Bloglovin'!


  1. Yes. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think that’s why I strayed away from New Year’s resolutions for the longest time.

  2. I agree with that! I think the only reason people do New Year’s resolution is to have others praise them for it. I’ve never been into resolutions, because if you have a plan you can stick to it without sharing it with the world.

  3. Amen, sister. Sometimes the feeling of satisfaction derived from publishing a goal on the blog or social media is enough to…uh…keep me from doing that goal, because I already got to bask in the warmth of my wannabe-accomplishment and community. Not healthy or productive. I think it’s important to find personal ways to make putting in the work feel exciting and sexy–write a triumphant line in a journal, reward yourself by taking another step towards the goal, etc.

  4. I saw a short and sweet TED talk to this point awhile back to this point…

  5. I’ve heard this before, and I respectfully disagree. I actually love sharing my goals with others (on my blog or otherwise) and hearing the goals that other people have. For me, it’s inspiring. I don’t need permission or praise for anything, but my readers appreciate when I share what I’m working on and how I’m doing it, so that they can get ideas for their own lives. In fact, when I did my annual reader survey, a large percentage of readers wanted me to talk about goals MORE. Everyone is different, but keeping mine to myself doesn’t work for me. I’m also an ENFJ, so it may have something to do with being an extrovert…

  6. I agree that if you want something enough that you don’t need other people to motivate you, but sometimes having someone know what your goal is makes you accountable and more likely to see it through. I guess you don’t need to share it with the whole world, but having accountability partners is a great help. I love talking to my boyfriend about my goals because we keep each other on track and check in regularly to make sure everything is happening. I find it helpful!!

  7. I’ve never been one to make resolutions since I think making and setting goals should be an ongoing process, not something saved for a new year. I’m a pretty private person (which may seem contradictory since I’m a blogger), and only share certain things with certain people- goals being one of them. I have to really value the person’s opinion to share my own! This reminds me of that quote “Work hard in silence, let success be your noise”.

  8. I completely agree with this. Work hard in silence and let the results speak for themselves.

  9. My feelings are mixed on this… some goals I have only had success on when I’ve made them public, since people will often ask about your progress which can provide a kick in the butt to stay with it. Others I’ve kept to myself. Either way I think it’s super important to visualize your goals, I often make a big poster and put it on my apartment door (on the inside of course) so I can see it and be reminded of it each day.

  10. The resolutions themselves don’t really bother me – it’s when I have little faith that people will put forth effort into keeping them. I feel like a lot of people make resolutions in order to appear like they are going to put work into themselves – not because they actually intend to.

    I see a lot of actors make all kinds of resolutions. Be more serious. Be more this. Be more that. Make things happen!

    … And then I never see anyone follow through or go above and beyond. The plan of attack that you spoke of never enters the picture. These are the resolutions that I could personally do without. It’s talking to hear yourself, not talking to accomplish something.

  11. I love this! I think you are right about keeping goals to yourself as a means to motivate you to do the work to get there. I also just think over-sharing on the blog world is a bit of a problem, especially around NYE. Everyone has goals, of course, but I personally start to get a little antsy around the new year and feel like my goals aren’t good enough or I’m not setting the right ones when I read endless posts about other people’s goals. Maybe I’m just being curmudgeonly…

  12. Crap, someone finally caught on to my goal-setting schemes. But do compromises exist? (I like to post goals in addition to my plan of attack, for instance, so at least a reader can put in the legwork if I never do.) At the end of the blogging day, you’re still right: nobody else is going to care whether you accomplish those dreams or not.

  13. All very true – I don’t publicly share goals I take very seriously since I believe in “jinxing” myself. I also watched a TedTalk video a few months ago that stated when we openly state our goals to others we decrease our chances of accomplishing them since we begin to feel a sense of accomplishment in just saying it out loud. Meaning: if you say it, your brain will already think it’s getting ish done even if you haven’t started. False sense of accomplishments don’t equate to real accomplishments – so I generally only talk to my bf about my plans since I truly value his opinion and thoughts. 🙂 Have a great one Cassie -Iva

  14. I appreciate your take on this Cassie! 🙂

    But as someone who can get geekily obsessed with personality types, I think this is totally one of those things that depends on the individual — though I so know where you are coming from.

    During January, I really had an urge to make a bunch of goals and share them to be a part of something and I had to step back and really think about if that was REALLY where I was at. I realized that specific goals right now aren’t really my thing and that what works for a lot of other people doesn’t necessarily work for me.

    ANYWAY…I think that it just depends on the situation and person. For some people, having that support and accountability really helps. Just putting it out there can put energy behind it and make it into something more. But for others, it can be just about the attention rather than caring about what’s actually behind it.

    And I know I personally love when people share their goals and progress because it can be inspirational and just plain interesting. It’s always cool to follow people on their journeys. But I do think that goals kept to one’s self are just as important and meaningful as goals that people share, for sure.

    ALSO: Love the new layout (know I’m late but just wanted to say that!) 🙂

  15. Hah I wholeheartedly agree with you though. The things I truly want and need I simply work for, every day. Talking about it only gives me time to talk myself out of it. but what would you suggest bloggers blog about in January then? ha


  16. I can totally understand where you’re coming from, and I agree with you– but I believe it’s possible to do both: share your goals with those closest to you, work hard towards your goal, and then when the results come, you can share them 🙂

    Admittedly, I’m involved in a line of work that takes a lot of small, steady chips in order to reach the bigger goal. The problem is, in order to really reach the goal, you have to openly admit it to people, and not just keep it to yourself. My father once told me that it was a “marathon, not a sprint,” and it would be difficult to partake in a marathon without the help of some sort of support group along the way. I think sharing goals is totally situational. For instance, while I chip away at job applications and interviews, I rarely (if ever) tend to tell people about them unless I got it. When I do share, it’s with an advisor or a close friend or classmate who is going through something similar. But to embark on something like medical school (which is my ultimate goal– becoming a physician) is something that takes YEARS and YEARS of work. I spent the majority of my first couple of years in undergraduate as a pseudo pre-med before realising I didn’t have the support I needed to maintain it, and I also wasn’t mature or accountable enough for myself to make those decisions. I’m a 20something post-grad now, and I realise how stupid I was for optimistically sharing the goal and arrogantly navigating my way through the process when I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. Luckily enough, sharing that with mentors and trusted professors and advisors really brought forth the confidence to get back on the horse and to realise that I’m capable of something. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t share “the gut feeling” of wanting to become a physician with my parents, my professors and myself. In that instance, goal sharing is important. I’d probably end up in a career I didn’t love, with nothing to really show for it if I didn’t share that and get the encouragement to even pursue the goal again.

    I think it’s definitely situational, and I definitely sharing small goals with others isn’t really something that should be done unless you’ve done the work to achieve them and you’re confident something will happen. But for goals lasting a long time, I think it’s totally possible to share it with a select group of trusted individuals. I definitely wouldn’t advertise small things I am doing to chip away at my goal on the internet, but it’s definitely something to think about when sharing goals. I do like your take on it though and agree with you for parts of it– but it’s something that has got me thinking more and more about goal-setting and goal-achieving 🙂

  17. I personally hate sharing goals because I change my mind so much all the time about what direction I’m taking and paths I want to take… that it’s kind of like plans I do/don’t make. I can’t be arsed catching up with someone in a month’s time and being like, oh that thing, yeah I’m not doing that anymore — and sounding super flakey. I’ll keep that to myself! ha…

    Also, so many blogs out there have really generic, repetitive, boring “goals”. Just like my fb timeline every new years. I don’t want to hear/read about people’s new year resolutions about upping their GPA or getting fit or whatever. I want to hear about it from my close friends who then go forth and DO IT and show themselves (and me) they’ve done it, etc., rather than this in one ear/eye and out the other thing on a mass public forum.


  1. […] you should keep your goals to yourself by Cassie of [Witty Title […]

Speak Your Mind