Friday, August 12, 2011

Have You Ever Lied About Your Goal Progress?

Hello faithful readers and welcome to another edition of the Life List Club. Since I'm super special and lucky I get to have Carrie with me again today! SQUEEE!! Her post is rockin' and I'm sure all of you will love it!

But first I must tell you all to hop over to my post on Lyn Midnight Against the Odds. It's pretty much the complete opposite of what Carrie's talking about so it will be nice for you guys to have two fun things to read.

Here's Carrie -

I was at a barbecue the other night when an acquaintance asked, "How's your novel coming?" I stared back blankly, sipped my drink and hoped they'd just go away. Finally I managed a, "It's OK." That was a big, fat lie. If I was telling the truth, what I really would have said was, "Terrible. I don't have a clue where my story is going next, and writing in the past scares the heck out of me." But I didn't. Instead I chose to lie.

Now on the scale of lies, mine might be considered a white lie. Rather than divulging the inner secrets of my writerly life, I let this person off easy by giving them an easy answer. Does anyone really want to hear about the hours I've spent banging my head against my keyboard over a single scene? Not likely. But, I still left the barbecue that night feeling awfully guilty about what I had said, and more importantly, wondering why I had told anyone I was writing a novel in the first place.

Telling People About Your Goals:

When I joined the Life List Club and set out on a year-long journey to complete some of my biggest life goals, I was so excited that I told everyone I knew (and even a few people I didn’t). I told my family, my friends and my co-workers that I was making a commitment to complete a list of fifteen goals, one of which was writing a novel. It felt great to talk about it, and I thought that telling people about my goals would be motivating and keep me accountable. Well, science says this isn't true. Check out this short video from Derek Sivers on why announcing your plans can make you less likely to accomplish them:

Now, at the risk of going against Derek and science, I think that telling people about your goals can be motivating, especially when you're writing a novel or working towards another giant-sized goal. The Life List Club was created for this exact reason: it’s a way to share your goals and keep yourself accountable. But, perhaps Derek does have a point when it comes to shouting your goals from the tree tops like I did. Maybe you shouldn't tell everyone and their dog about your goal, unless you're prepared to tell the truth about your progress.

Telling the Truth About Your Progress:

If you're going to tell people about your goals, I think you also need to be prepared to tell them the truth about your progress. Did you have a bad week and not hit your target number of words or pages? Tell the truth. Did you break down and eat a jumbo sized bag of chocolate almonds on Friday night? Fess up. Did you skip the gym three days in a row? Admit it. When you lie about your goal progress, you only hurt yourself. Thinking back to the person who asked me about how my novel was going at the barbeque, I now realize that I would have been better off telling the truth. By lying and saying that the novel was going well, I took the social pressure of admitting that things weren’t going well off of myself, thereby negating any benefit I would have gained from telling this person about my goal in the first place. Not to mention that I felt terrible for lying. If you’re going to tell people about your goals in an attempt to keep yourself accountable, I believe you have to be prepared to let them know when you’re not making the progress you hoped you would.

Do you agree? Should we be careful about whom we share our goals with? Do you tell people about your big goals? Have you ever lied about your progress?


Carrie Mumford is a writer and editor living in the wild Canadian West. She writes short stories and non-fiction articles, and is working on her first novel. When she’s not participating in word-related activities she can be found chipping away at her certificate in publishing, running, or trying to learn CSS. You can find her on her blog, her website, Twitter or Google Plus.

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