Why Successful People Keep Their Big Dreams to Themselves (and why you should too)

Whether it’s landing your dream job or writing a book, the common belief has it that spreading the news about your endeavor helps to achieve it.

After all, if people know what you’re after, they expect you to sooner or later reach your goal. You don’t want to be considered a failure in their eyes, right?

If you’re about to tell everyone about your dream, you might be making a huge mistake.

1. You’ll easily lose all your motivation

If you think that sharing goals create expectations and a sense of social pressure or accountability, you’re right. You don’t want to let down the people who know about your dream.

But in reality, sharing your dreams does far more harm than good. According to Derek Sivers, telling someone about your goals makes them less likely to happen.

When you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, your mind gets tricked into feeling that it’s already done. You feel satisfied, and not likely to work hard on achieving it anymore.

Research shows that talking about your goal can cause your brain to develop a false sense of accomplishment, consequently making you less determined to go after it.

In 1933, W. Mahler demonstrated that if a person announced the solution to a problem, and was acknowledged by others, the situation became a “social reality” in their brain. A more recent example comes from the work of the NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer who has been studying the topic since the 1980s.

In a recent article “When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?” he reiterated the idea, stating that identity-related behavioral intentions which had been noticed by other people were translated into action less intensively than those that had been ignored.

If you want to keep yourself motivated, think twice before telling someone about your dream.

2. Others might criticize your dreams

People can be very judgmental. If your dream somehow escapes the well-defined cultural hierarchies, you might fall victim to criticism coming from people who view life in terms of “black and white” or “right and wrong”.

They’re unable to perceive reality in shades of gray, so if your point of view departs from their vision of life, you’re likely to hear that you’re wrong.  

This type of criticism affects everyone. If you listen to these people, your dream might get weaker. You’ll lose motivation and will be less likely to achieve it.

3. Opinions of other people might hold you back

It’s not only blunt criticism that poses a threat to your dream. Opinions can be equally deadly, even if they originate from those who care about you.

When sharing your dream and the method for achieving it, you’re bound to hear opinions that might distract you from your goal.

For example, if you tell someone that you’d like to enroll to a graduate school, they might to tell you something along the lines: “My cousin’s friend went to this university, the campus is simply awful and professors tend to pick on their students”.

If someone who you trust voices this type of opinion, you might be lead to believe them. As a consequence, you’ll stop trusting your intuition and fall into the trap of self-doubt.

4. People close to you might be afraid to lose you.

Achieving a dream takes a lot of time. Telling a friend or significant other that you plan to devote plenty of time to your endeavor is risky. Your loved ones might easily criticize your dream if they feel that they might be seeing less of you.

Subconsciously, they don’t want to lose touch with you, and distract you from pursuing your goal. That’s why it’s smart to keep the idea to yourself for as long as possible. This way people in your life ease to it over a period of time, and get used to you being away busy with your work.

5. Your dream might make others uncomfortable.

If you’re counting on other people to become as enthusiastic about your dream as you are, better think twice. Other people might avoid talking about your dream. They’re not guaranteed to give you any motivation to achieve your goals. Instead, they might stop talking to you altogether.

Pursuing your dream might make others uncomfortable. Perhaps you talking about it reminds them of their own long-forgotten dreams? They might be pessimistic about your dream, and unable to see how it could ever be realized.

This is their problem, not yours.

Still, if you want to maintain enthusiasm for your vision, it’s better to keep it to yourself. Chucking out negativity from your life is crucial if you want to maintain a strong course towards the realization of your dreams.

6. If you keep your dream to yourself, you’ll gain a motivation boost.

You’ll want to share your dream with other people.That’s why you’ll be bending over backwards to get it done as soon as possible. You’ll never get this type of motivation if you tell others what you want to achieve.

This is a serious productivity boost as well.

7. Not telling others about your dream makes it more special.

We tend to share good things with our loved ones, extending our own happiness and enthusiasm to them. But being a little selfish about your dream won’t hurt it. In fact, it will make it all the more special. It will be like a private project that you’re realizing in complete secrecy.

If nobody knows about your dream, imagine what a surprise you’ll make by unveiling it to everyone at the same time!

Key takeaway

Sharing your dream with others poses several serious risks. It is important not to lose your vision over the criticism or opinions of other people.

Keep your eyes on the prize and soldier on. You don’t need others to know about your precious project, at least not when you have achieved your dream.

Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee is a passionate blogger at PACK & SEND, whose constant drive for self-improvement makes her read a plethora of books and listen to numerous productivity podcasts. Elizabeth enjoys sharing her productivity and motivation tips with others, often through blogging.

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