TEDGlobal 2010

Keep your goals to yourself: Derek Sivers on TED.com

Posted by: Shanna Carpenter

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. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2010, July 2010 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 3:16)

Watch Derek Sivers’ talk on TED.com where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 700+ TEDTalks.

Comments (4)

  • L. Duthie commented on Jun 23 2012

    I totally agree with this idea. There have been many times since I heard this that I have adopted it. When I have decided to do something in the past others try to tell you that you can’t accomplish said goal, or they try to undermine the goal by distracting you. Another scenario that has occurred when I have shared a goal is that others want to tag along too, but when it comes to the work out, or the class I would spend additional time motivating them to participate as well when the focus should be completely on myself. So when I have felt the need to share, I shut up. The reward is telling others later what I have done.

  • Leah Z commented on Oct 22 2010

    As a behavioral psychologist I REALLY wish TED wouldn’t allow a guy with a B.A. in music speak on psychology. He takes a single psychology experiment and then misinterprets the results. There are years of research to suggest that a behavioral contract greatly increases compliance. This video is completely misinformed.

  • Judanne Simpson commented on Sep 11 2010

    I don’t agree with this. I think those results can be interpreted two ways – his way and the alternative way. For instance, when those who didn’t share their goals said that they felt they had a long way to go, how were they feeling when they said that? Were they inspired, matter-of-fact or depressed by that fact? Would I personally want to feel that I had a long way to go or that I was closer to my goals by speaking about them? I’d want to feel closer to them by speaking about them. My goals are written down and next to me here at the computer where I can read them every day. I do feel like I have a way to go, but my goals are big and the page reminds me of why I’m doing what I’m doing and I’m also reminded to stay on the path I’ve chosen. That helps.

  • ANSHUMAN SRIVASTAVA commented on Sep 9 2010


    I don’t agree with the results of certain tests conducted on certain set of people. I would like to give example of some big events . In 1996 olympics Michael Johnson was running in 200m race wearing a pair of golden shoes. His goal was obvious and he achieved golden double in Atlanta olympics. In subsequent olympics Maurice Green announced that 100m sprint gold was for him only and he made it.There are numerous examples where a person achieved the well announced goal.
    Living your dreams before it actually happens is a powerful motivator for making your dreams come true. Unless you have the confidence to accept it before someone (if required)how can you imagine to do the same before them.