My grandma has always been cautious about what she says and taught me to do the same. When I was little I didn’t quite understand the meaning behind that other than a superstitious one (yes, superstitious), but as I grew up, I sensed the real intention of minding the language, if you will.

The older we get, the more we plan on our own. Every time we set goals for ourselves, we need to take certain actions, need to work in order to achieve it. And when we do, it gives us a whole lot of satisfaction.

Now, remember your first emotion when you shared what you’re looking to achieve with someone. Pride? Yes, because he/she was surprised you wanted to do it. Confidence? Probably, because your intentions were approved. But hold on a minute… You literally have not gotten there yet.

Such a situation is widely known as SOCIAL REALITY, when your “mind is kind of tricked by the feeling that it’s [the desirable outcome] already done” (Derek Sivers, TED Talks speaker). So it feels real, though in fact it is just a social announcement of your aspirations. And when you’ve felt that satisfaction and pleasant emotions, you are less likely to put in the hard work associated with getting there.

This goes across the widespread idea of saying goals out so that you receive friends’ support and advice on the way of achieving them. But look, friends are not going to be your personal guides, they have their own life and plans. So it’s totally dependable on you and your motivation if you can get there, which brings us back to losing that motivation if you tell others about your goals. If that helps, you can print out your goal on a piece of paper and hang it on the wall in front of your work/study place, but that’s probably it.

This has been proved by a NYU professor Peter M. Gollwitzer who conducted a series of social experiments among students upon which he discovered that those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them.

I can imagine how hard it is in the context of a student when all relatives and profs ask you what your plans for the future are, or when your friends ask you to share your New Year resolutions so you can follow them together. But my honest advice (yes, I am an ardent supporter of this belief) is talk ambiguously and smile. Smile always helps!

Anyway, pretty mind-blowing, isn’t it? I guess, grandma sensed it unless she knew it exactly. Another reason to believe that the elderly know better.

Picture Attributes:
Cover picture by
Gollwitzer, Peter M., “When Intentions Go Public”
Sivers, Derek, “Keep Your Goals to Yourself”

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