The Power of Keeping Quiet About Your Career Goals

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Is sharing your career goals essential for achieving them?

After all, it can be embarrassing not to follow through or fall short.

Yet, the manner in which we share our goals with others can significantly impact whether we achieve them or not.

One valuable lesson I’ve learned from the American author Brian Tracy is the art of knowing when to zip it about our goals. While seemingly counterintuitive, engaging in extensive goal-oriented conversations with others can actually prove counterproductive and hinder progress.

Let’s delve into the reasons for keeping your career goals to yourself when striving for accomplishment.

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Engaging in conversations about professional goals can sow the seeds of a premature sense of accomplishment. Often, we receive praise and encouragement for our ambitions, which might make us feel we’re already one step closer to our destination. Paradoxically, this early gratification can trigger a setback in motivation as our brain interprets the reward for goal attainment as already achieved.

Research shows a contrasting response pattern between beginners and experts: Beginners are inclined to adhere more to a goal when positively encouraged, while advanced individuals focus more on tangible progress.

To illustrate, imagine you’re working in a marketing team, aiming to develop an innovative marketing campaign for a new product. If you possess extensive experience in crafting such campaigns, sharing your intent with an experienced colleague who can provide valuable feedback for strategy optimization might be wise.

On the other hand, if you’re new to the marketing field and undertaking your first campaign, it could be wiser to share your goal with a team member who encourages and supports you as you prove yourself in this challenging task.

Fear of Failure and Judgment

Sharing our goals can also trigger fears of failure and judgment. The thought of being judged or even ridiculed by others if we don’t achieve our goals can be paralyzing.

This trepidation might deter us from taking necessary risks and steps toward goal attainment.

Negative Influences and Distractions

Unfortunately, not everyone supports our professional aspirations.

Sharing goals opens us up to negative feedback, criticism, and, in extreme cases, sabotage.

Negative feedback can be demotivating and hinder our pursuit of goals, adversely affecting our progress.

Rather than dealing with potential rejection from the outset, it could be more effective to discuss goals only after initial successes have been achieved. This way, you can be confident in the solidity of your goals and the progress you’re making.

Distraction from Actual Work

Conversations revolving around goals can divert our attention from the actual work required for achievement.

Often, talking takes over the landscape. Sharing goals often leads to a focus on discussing goals rather than the practical effort needed to reach them.

Consider which is simpler: Is it easier to chat with everyone about your goals and imagine success, or to get fired up and actually do something about them?

As a coach, I advise my clients to consciously decide when and with whom to share their professional goals.

Because sometimes, silence about your goals can be the very strength you need to accomplish something truly significant.


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