Why It’s Important To Know Who You’re Sharing Your Goals With

By Ellesse

When I first came across that piece of advice from most of the self improvement books I read, I seriously thought they were exaggerating. In fact, I thought it was unhealthy. What’s wrong with sharing your audacious goals with your closest friends and family? Aren’t they supposed to be happy for you now that you’ve managed to convince yourself to step out of your comfort zone to pursue something you’ve always wanted to? What harm can they do to someone whom they say they love and trust?

Theoretically, it seems logical. But what happened over the course of the years made me acknowledge that such advice can be true. So true that it actually hurts when the initial realization sets in. Here’s why :

(1) Your Faith Can Easily Waver When You’re Just Starting Out

When I first shared with a friend that I wanted to quit my job to start up a business venture, I was chided for not setting a loftier goal than just becoming “financially free”. I was told that my target was easily achievable since my expenses were low enough to be covered by any potential passive income. I was advised that I should set a higher goal to be the next millionaire in my country. What she said and the way she conveyed it seemed mincing but I soon became aware it wasn’t her words that were intimidating. It was my own insecurity. Even though my mind wanted to take the leap of faith, my heart wasn’t ready at that time.

When you’re just starting out on your goals, you may face the same situation as I used to. That’s the stage where you’re out there gathering “proof” that what you’ve been harbouring is something achievable. The danger of sharing your dreams prematurely – especially with people whom you think are natural skeptics – will only shake the pagoda of faith that you’re trying to build at that moment in time.

In my case, I could’ve been so affected by my friend’s advice that I give it all up. After all, it’s so much easier to just leave the dream aside, thinking that it isn’t lofty enough than to just jump onto the wagon and see what comes along.

(2) Not All People Are At The Same Level of Awareness As You Are

During a friend’s wedding reception last Sunday, I was seated together with some old University mates. One’s a director in an offshore bank, who had just given birth to a baby boy. Another’s a newly married personal financial consultant in an international bank while the third’s a finance manager of a global property developer. All 3 of them were happily chatting about their life. How they were faring. Their plans for the years ahead. Etc etc.

For a while, I kind of felt I was the odd one out. I couldn’t contribute to what they were discussing. Life in the cubicle farm, marriage and having kids are nice ideas. But they’re so distant from me at the moment that the thought of them could be likened to a bald man deciding on the type of hair shampoo he’s going to use. How much do I know about marriage or having children that I could bring myself to comment on their plans?

Likewise, I didn’t tell them much about what I was doing online. Sharing with those powerful corporate achievers that I quit my job to pursue a long time dream sounds like a crazy idea. After all, how much do they know about blogging or internet marketing to comment on my endeavours? I’m really not sure.

No one’s right or wrong here. We’re all influenced by the things we see and experience which in turn affect our choices to move up or down the awareness scale. The altitude we’re at eventually determine the opportunities and ideas we get exposed to. When someone of a different playing field is not able to provide the kind of support that you would like them to, it’s not because he didn’t want to. But rather because the scope of his existing vision and capacity didn’t warrant him to do so.

That’s why it’s often recommended to seek that someone from your mastermind group or your niche community. Someone who’s able to garner the type of help you’ll want from your goals. Someone who’ll hold you accountable for what you’ve committed to. Since both of you’re on a similar launch pad, it’ll be easier for him to do the job. Because he knows what it means to go through what you’re going through.

However, if you don’t mind a little controversy and want to put your ideas to the challenge, feel free to share them with all your friends. But bear in mind that you’re all different and review your responses in a constructive way. Look at what’s meaningful and disregard those that are meant to put you down. Be prepared for a heart thumping ride though!

(3) Sadly, Some People Actually Want You To Fail

I know I’ve been talking about this type of people in many of my articles. The question is, are there really such friends who literally want to see you fail? Or are they just a fragment of my own imagination?

Seriously, much as you may not want to admit it, they’re for real. These people start out seemingly very supportive of what you’re doing. They’ll ask about the status of your project every time you meet up. Their eagerness to know so much about what you’re doing surprises you at times but you tend to brush it off as a display of their concern for you as a friend.

In reality, it may not be what it seems to be. They can be asking just to satisfy their curiosity if you’re doing much better than them as a result of your conscious decision. If you’ve failed, it’ll just stroke their ego to know that they were right about you and your project since the beginning. If you’ve succeed, they’ll try to find out from you what you’re doing that’s working and use that as a basis to question their own choices in life.

I can’t remember the number of times I’ve been cornered in that situation. At least 3 friends have asked me “So, when are you going to find a job?” last month. And the moment I saw their shocked faces when I told them I’m still sticking with my project, I knew they’ve never expected me to succeed.

At the end of the day, it seriously don’t matter whether they’re right or wrong about you. What’s important is, you’ve already taken the first step to work towards your goals and dreams. That, in itself is a achievement and don’t let anyone’s words lead you into thinking that you’re not worthy.



13 Responses to “Why It’s Important To Know Who You’re Sharing Your Goals With”

  1. Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul at 8:29 pm

    Great article, Ellesse! It’s so true … people have their own reactions when we announce our pursuits, and sometimes those reactions don’t exactly serve us! I think that we are often in a position of challenging those around us to pursue THEIR dreams! This is what causes the various reactions. It’s not about us – it’s about how others feel about themselves.


  2. Ellesse at 8:46 am

    @Andrea Absolutely! I often find myself encouraging people to go for their dreams, only to be shut out from their comfort zone cocoon many times. You’re right. It’s their insecurity. Just like what I felt when I first had that goal.

    A question that it’s good to ask at this point of time is, do you want to feel better now letting go of your dream or do you want to feel better on your deathbed, knowing that you overcame that nervous feeling of losing a safety net to challenge the odds?

  3. Alex Blackwell at 3:21 pm

    Ellesse – I agree! Goals seem to have more “teeth” when shared.

  4. Gamy Rachel at 3:40 pm

    You bet I had some rides when some of the “so call” well meaning friends know my plans and goals. As I look back , I now know why certain things happened and why certain behaves occurred also.

    I am now very careful as to who I hang around with and who I will share my goals with.


  5. Tim Brownson at 4:31 pm

    Ellesse, great article,

    I agree with Andrea on why people like to see others fail. There is indeed the ego stroking bit because they were proved right, but it confirms their belief that they don’t need to change either. People can feel inadequate when family and friends succeed and they are left right where they are. If nobody changes the staus quo is preserved and the pressure for them to step outside their comfort zone is removed, albeit temporarily. These type sof people usually have fairly low self-esteem.

  6. Lexi of Creative Energies at 6:40 pm

    People are often more afraid of stepping into their own power than remaining powerless. And I agree these people do not want to see examples that challenge their own choice.

    My husband and I have been running into that lately and I just wrote a post called “Are You Trapped in a Brain Closet?” discussing the experience. In our case it deals more with what we have done than what we plan to do, but it is distinctly the same pattern you discuss in this excellent article.

  7. Ellesse at 2:47 am

    @Alex Haha, what a nice analogy you’ve used. The teeth either bites. Or helps you grit through the challenges ahead!

    @Gamy, thanks for affirming some of my concerns. I totally agree with you. Much as we would try to disassociate with a lot of those unsupportive people, sometimes, we just couldn’t. For example, it could be a close family member we see everyday. At the end of the day, we must realize that while knowing who we should announce our goals to, it’s also critically important for us to continue to hone our self belief. Because only then can we really mitigate the effects of such naysayings. I’m still working hard!

    @Tim Glad to have you around! Been hearing so much about you on the blogosphere… I totally agree on the self esteem part. And I admit I do have that kind of insecurity when I first started out too… It’s those kind of situation when you hinges between the “status quo” or “go for it” borders.

    Even when you’ve decided to just go for it, there will be times when this esteem & self doubt thingy just comes back to haunt you. Especially when you’re facing challenges in the decision you’ve made. Instead of lying to yourself that it doesn’t exists, the best way in my opinion is to continue to build up this self confidence as you go along. Celebrate whatever little success you’ve and strengthen your fundamental faith.

    Like what I mention to Gamy, I’m still working hard on that… :)

    @Lexi thanks for sharing your little story! I like the way you mentioned it, “… afraid of stepping into their own power…” It’s so true. Everyone has the potential and power to break through this seemingly vicious cycle. All it takes is a decision.

    A decision to just say “Yes, I’ll go for it!”

  8. Wajid Unar at 11:21 am

    Hm.. interesting, would have to think about it seriously….! I have seen people who keep mum even when there is lots to share about future plans etc, I recently graduated, I do discuss my plans… but you are right, I have seen people doing more if they keep mum..
    Thanks for the advice.

  9. Ellesse at 2:48 pm

    @Wajid, I can understand EXACTLY how you’re feeling. When I first graduated from University, I was full of aspirations and drive, and often discuss my career plans with my friends. It’s often fruitful if what you’re talking about is in alignment with what they’re expecting… for example, when I was still doing audit, elaborating over the banes of the profession often resonate with them.

    BUT if you’re saying something that’s slightly out of the ordinary, like starting your own business or switching into a profession they’ve totally unexpected, such skeptism seems to be the norm.

    That’s my observation. And so far, it’s quite true for me…

  10. Wajid Unar at 2:50 pm

    Quite true Ellesse, beside discussing what they can understand often increases your knowledge and gives you a confidence, my performance was highly increased when I discussed my understanding over various techniques of Software Engineering… But now I would keep mum for my own plans ;) (would try :P )

  11. Ellesse at 1:51 am

    @Wajid I believe that’s the human mind’s way of seeking affirmation. We tend to seek advice and assurance that our actions or ideas are right and validated from people around us. It’s a way to reaffirm our belief that our plans work. Be aware there’s nothing wrong with that but sharing with the wrong people just deflate your confidence even before you get started

    The question becomes, who should you tell? My advice would be to

    • Keep the goal to yourself when it’s still in its infancy
    • Read up on – & if possible, speak to – people who’ve done it to build up that belief that it CAN be done
    • Visualize yourself doing it in a mental movie, Vision Board, a future letter to yourself
    • Take part in a Mastermind group, if you can (that’s when you start sharing your goals). If you don’t have such a group, consider whether there’s a need to tell at all. I know of some people who’ve never told their goals to anyone and when they achieved it, their friends were so shocked. If you really need to get it off your chest and seek some accountability, share with your closest family members or friends. Well, what’s the litmus test? People whom you know will not laugh at you when you told them an audacious goal eg, going to be a movie star or earn a million dollars by XXX year. If you know they wouldn’t be able to accept that, chances are, you may not be able to get the support for your seemingly challenging goals too
    • Act on it and review on every feedback you get
    • Keep doing it until you get the results you wanted!
  12. Wajid Unar at 11:26 pm

    Great advice. Thanks!
    By reading what you have just prescribed, I remember a story written by Paulo (you already would have gone through it)
    “Manual for Climbing Mountains” by Paulo Cohelo:

    The final essence of what you have prescribed, and what Paulo’s story concludes, these can be taken as a real good guide for forming one goal, keeping it up to oneself or to share it on the right time with the right people, and just ‘keep going’ until we have reached our mountain or say we have achieved our targets/goals :)

  13. Ellesse at 12:21 am

    @Wajid Haha, I didn’t know about that story. It’s just that from my personal experience and from so many literature I’ve read from the “gurus” that affirms this. Regardless of whether that’s the right way to approach things, you’ll still have to bear in mind the importance of action and persistence.

    Persevere! You can do it!


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