David Heinemeier Hansson (creator of Ruby on Rails) wrote a post on the blog Signal vs. Noise, entitled “Having big goals and stating them proudly”. Heinemeier Hansson states that “something magic happens when you believe that your big goals are achievable and you make those goals public. You start thinking, plotting, and doing all the little steps that are going to take you there.”
Some weeks after I read this post, I was browsing TED videos and found this presentation by Derek Sivers (entrepreneur, famous for creating CDBaby), which is also documented in his blog. Sivers says that the good overall feeling we get when sharing a personal goal with others will make us less likely to achieve that goal: “Telling someone your goals makes them less likely to happen.” He puts forward psychology studies, dating as far back as 1926, whose results show that once we publicize a personal goal, our mind gets tricked in the feeling that it’s already done. Recent studies (2009) have re-confirmed that our mind “mistakes the talking for the doing”.
So there you go: two people, both successful in achieving their goals (some of them, at least), having opposing views on personal goals. Through some experience, I would now settle for Sivers’ treatise.