Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone — but Derek Sivers says it’s better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on, at http Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

24 thoughts on “Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself

  1. I think that he’s basically saying don’t brag about your goals, and only tell people who need to know, because that’s what gives you satisfaction in achieving them, doing the goals because you want to, not to impress others…

  2. I think this is a very good point. There could be a huge difference at different scale. There could be a threshold where this this is true until a certain point for goals that take longer or just require more effort or whatever.

  3. Actually, this is both true and false for completely different reasons. 1) Others are always involved in helping an individual to achieve their goals; therefore, it is necessary to communicate the goals in order to get the help needed to achieve them. 2) telling unsupportive people can be worse than useless. 3) when the real goal is the gratification of the social dynamics then you get what this guy is talking about. 4) something else.

  4. This is really interesting, because a lot of self-help books say announcing it publicly gives you more motivation to achieve your goals.

  5. i kinda agree with you too, I think by telling people your goals you never know what hidden opportunity might pop out, but yeah its better not to tell someone you think is a naysayer/hater/frenemy etc

  6. In Algeria, our ancestos called this mystically ‘the bad eye”. Actually, they externalized this fact to the one you tell your objectives, accusing him of having a “bad eye”. That’s funny and God bless Science! 😀

  7. This has not been my experience at all. The research he quotes is interesting, and may be the rule after all! But…My dreams came true like firecrackers, as a direct result of telling people. In a way, I suppose, I’m asking for support when I tell folks what I’m going to do. I am aware that by announcing my intentions, otherwise unknown opportunities, that would’ve passed me by, became known to me. The people around me become agents of match-making: my desires with the things I want to do.

  8. Since childhood i always felt reluctant to tell anyone my goals, now this explanation has made things quite clear although i feel that people should take into account that whether or not you talk about your goals is irrelevant. You shouldn’t put importance of the discussion of your goals. Only in the action of achieving your goal itself. loool don’t talk the talk, unless your walking the walk

  9. I’ve noticed this behavior in myself. When I boast about my goals, desires, wants – I don’t tend to achieve them. I’ve stopped talking about my goals since realizing this and it works! LOL i just saw this video now and it’s pretty cool.

  10. i dont believe this. I achieve my goals better when I announce it in fear of embarrassment of not able to achieve it. 🙂

  11. he claims this alongside the assumption that the reaction you would get would be a positive one, one of congratulations and pats on the back. I sometimes get a response of “you’ll never pull that off” or other discouraging comments and it makes me feel like rising up in fury and proving doubters wrong, that is after I’ve contemplated WHY people would want to discourage me. BUT for the most part he is correct.

  12. As an extroverted writer (we’re sort of rare), I tried keeping my goals to myself and it went horribly awry. I imploded with self-doubt without the enthusiasm and support of those around me. Once I shared my dream with my friends and family, the support was overwhelming and I’m pursuing my dream of publication. I guess we’ll see if I achieve it, but I’m going to be submitting my manuscript to agents in the near future. If I fail, I’d rather people know, rather than for me to fail in secret.

  13. Just a personal testimony: over the past few years (and before ever having seen this clip; dunno how I missed it but I did) I’ve noticed that any of my small programming projects that I get overly excited about and tell people about are now currently “sitting on the back burner” (probably to the point I completely forget about them) and the few I kept to myself to work on in secret I’ve finished already. XD

    So, yeah, I’m doing what he said from now on. ^.^

  14. I’d say this is ridiculous, because 45min of committment are worth nothing on a huge goal that could take months to reach, so i can’t accept these results as correct. But probably it is simply that “it depends” on the kind of goal we are talking about, and the personal willpower of each one.


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