Does talking about your goals actually hurt you?

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This blog really isn’t musically related at all, although I feel it relates to everyone, especially musicians.  It really relates to me which is why it has been on my mind so much as of late.  After almost 15 years as a professional musician, I’ve really been doing a lot of self-evaluation over the past year or two.  It helps that my girlfriend is an awesome marketing person and has gotten me to think about things a little differently than I have in times past.  It’s not that the same goals and ambitions haven’t always been there.  What’s complicated, and I think this applies to almost all of us, is figuring out the correct path to moving our goals past the start and to the finish line.  It’s tough – very tough at times.

You see, the thing is that my mind is constantly racing.  I’ve had lots of ideas.  Some I have tried, quite a few I haven’t.  I’ve literally had some ideas in my head of some pretty good drum product inventions only to see others do it themselves a few years later (and one blatantly ripped it off but we won’t go into that… :-)) So why is it that most of these haven’t seen the light of day?  Is it that I have too much on the table?  This could be a viable solution.  After all, we can only do so much.  Sometimes you have to learn to focus on one project at a time and see it to the end.  My problem is that I get bored too easily and am already looking ahead to the next challenge.  I know it’s not a motivation thing, unless you could suggest that my motivation is misplaced, which is certainly plausible.  I have the motivation to do “X” project, but do I have the motivation to do what it takes to get “X” project off the ground?  Do you see what I’m saying?  I think we are all experts at starting projects, yet only a few become experts at finishing them.

So with all of this in mind, you might see how I was elated to see this video a few months ago.  A friend of mine, Jeff Loper, posted this on his facebook page.  It’s a video linked from (great informative site) of Derek Sivers talking about a very interesting analysis of what happens, psychologically, when we tell others about our goals before setting out to accomplish them.  The video is short (around 3:00) so click on the following link and check it out to get a feel of exactly what I’m referring to here:

Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself

This was a real eye opener for me, personally.  I can seriously relate to what he’s talking about here!  My favorite quote:  “The mind mistakes the talking for the doing.”  What’s the old saying?  If I had a dollar for everytime I’ve done that I’d be a millionaire?  Surely this has been the case for me.  For example, I’ve had different ideas off and on throughout the years for writing method books for percussionists.  I can specifically remember making some announcements to friends that I was going to be doing this.  The intentions were very good – I’ve even started some outlines on occasion for said books.  Yet, they’ve never seen the light of day to date.  I think that in this instance, what he’s talking about in the video (the study) is true for me.  It’s almost as if telling everyone that I was writing a book somehow convinced my mind that I was already doing it.  And by doing so, I definitely felt like I had already reached an important goal. In reality, this was a false hurdle that I had just jumped around.

Now some of you quick thinkers may already be able to “bust” me on this whole hypothesis, as the main reason that I’m writing this blog is that it’s part of my “30 Days/30 Blogs” series.  I publicly announced to the world about 12 days ago that I had challenged myself to add content to my site by doing 30 blogs in the next 30 days.  Yeah – busted.  However, here’s where I think that it’s different – the motivation.  Remember earlier when I said that the problem may lie in the motivation to do what is necessary to get the goal accomplished?  Well, that motivation and the means to accomplish my goal had already been determined before I made the announcement.  In the case of my book ideas, it was more speculative.  I thought it was a good idea and thought if I would tell people about it, then maybe I’d get feedback and encouragement and the book would just somehow and perhaps magically write itself!

So although I 100% agree with what Derek Siver is saying, there are always exceptions to any given rule.  I know that the most common argument is that announcing your goals to people around you garners you accountability.  I can give this some consideration.  I think it is possible, but I also have experience (as do you) of dealing with other humans.  I think many times we all have good intentions and often make promises that we can’t always keep.  It’s not that we’re bad people or we just don’t care, rather that life gets really busy and difficult and you have to be sure to take care of yourself and your family.  This is why I have found that looking to others for accountability isn’t always the best policy.  Even the best of us get selfish from time to time.

Listen, ponder, speculate, respond…whatever you feel like doing.  Let me know what you think of what Derek says and if it resonates at all with you and your experiences.  I’m really curious if any other musicians out there feel the same way that I do about this subject?

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2 Responses to "Does talking about your goals actually hurt you?"
  1. 22/01/2011 07:42


    I’m going to have to think about this one…1st of all I’m not one to keep my mouth shut much at all. However, I think it would all depend on what the goal/s you are trying to achieve are and then evaluate that goal and weigh the pros and cons on if it would be damaging to your achievement to tell others or if maybe it would be beneficial in helping you successfully achieve you goal. My cuurent and ongoing goal is weight loss ( see told you I can’t keep my moth shut ). One of Dereks slide that made his audience chuckle a bit was the treadmill that was being used as a closet. Last February I started a new job, in May my new colleagues asked me if I wanted to join their version of “The Biggest Loser” weight challenge. Me knowing I needed to lose a few pounds, and the incentive of the money that ended up being the prize at th end of the challenge I was all for the challenge. Now, all my new co-workers, knows my goal. I have to admit, that I was frightened by this challenge and was afraid of not meeting my goal, as I had not met weight goals in the past. I used the new job and new colleages to my advantage or as incentives. Just within a couple of months they were not going to have picked up on my habits, the didn’t know if I was competitive or not and they’ve never seen me fail at any previous goals that I’ve tried to achieve. So I sure as heck wasn’t going to let these people beat me! I kept to my goal and one my challenge. However, Derek makes comment about people congratulating you etc…and then you feel some accomplishment and lose the drive to complete the goal! I have to agree… Once I won the challenge people congratulated me and was saying how great I did and looked good etc…you feel the need to go eat a Big Mac! So again, I think it all depends on the goal and your self evaluation on if it is worth telling or should you keep it quiet!

    • 23/01/2011 14:28


      Becky –

      First off, thanks for the reply to the blog! I’m glad that it got you thinking – that’s kind of the point and of course exactly what the video did for me, too! I definitely agree with what you are saying and that sometimes it’s OK to vocalize your goals. In my experience it’s proven to not be helpful. I guess my “2 cents” about your situation is similar to what I mentioned in the blog regarding your motivation. It sounds like the motivation to not only achieve the goal but do what it takes to achieve the goal was already there. I think that’s the key – when your mind isn’t 100% committed to the process as opposed to the ‘vision’ then we are more likely to fail. Just my opinion.

      Thanks again for reading and getting involved! You Rock!!! :-)


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