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ImageEnd of the old year, starting a new one; time to look back and take stock of the past year. Whether your year was great, or total crap, you get to hit the reset button. Starting January 1 my life is going to be significantly different. And by different I mean I have no idea what my path for the upcoming year looks like. I have some hopes, but nothing is written in stone.

The one thing I do know? I’m not going to say a word about it to certain folks. Years ago I took a course, Critical Thinking Skills, from a very smart guy called Lester Brown. Because of what I learned I was able to accomplish a whole lot of goals that were previously beyond me. The first thing that Lester told us?

Don’t tell anyone your goals.

Thats right, keep your aspirations to yourself. It sounds counterintuitive, but it actually makes sense. Set big goals, go for them, and keep the end game to yourself. Still don’t agree? Lets look at what happens 9 times out of 10 when you set yourself an audacious goal. You’re excited. You start charting your strategy and tell a couple of good friends. Encouragement abounds, yes? No.

You know what I’m talking about. You mention something you’re doing, thinking, or contemplating, and it’s a cue for the ‘advice’ to start. It usually begins with an concerned expression and a vaguely condescending sympathetic smile. It’s as if they want to say ‘God bless you, you little darling. You actually think you can do this? Let me tell you all the reasons it will never happen.’

The conversation goes something like this:

You: Hey, this year I’m going to climb Everest / lose 50lbs / buy a house / go to Tahiti.
Friend: How exciting! … *Pause* … This year? … *Pause* … Well, I’m sure if anyone can do it, you can…. But you remember last time you tried this it didn’t work / you’re broke / you have no passport
You: No I’m determined to make it work. I will do this!
Friend: I’ll support you… but maybe you want to start with something a little more attainable. I don’t want you to be disappointed.
You: Well, I guess I can start small and work my way up to my big goal.
Friend: Sure, I’ll be here to catch you when you fall.
You: Oh forget about it. Hand me that cake.

The most damaging naysayers are not enemies. They’re friends who genuinely want to ‘protect’ you from getting hurt. They truly do mean well, and therein lies the danger. You know they genuinely care about you so you give their words extra weight. It works the other way as well. How many times have we gently tried to manage the expectations or dreams of a friend so that they aren’t set up for the hurt of failure. I know I’ve certainly done it.

So here is the rule. Keep your goals to yourself. If you must tell someone, choose a couple people and lay down the ground rules. Before you say a word about the goal tell them, ‘I know you care about me, but if you can’t be behind this 110% I need you not to say anything.’  There will be people who can whole-heartedly support your big dream. You just have to be very careful in picking them.

I’m not saying that we don’t all need a reality check, but if your version of reality does nothing but bring me down all the time, I want nothing to do with it. I probably know more about the reality of my life and situation than you do. Believe me. I get it. And here’s the deal, even if I don’t get it, the negative reality will smack me upside the head sooner rather than later.

“Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.”  – G. M. Trevelyan

So let me know in the comment section; do you agree with my perspective on goal sharing? Why, or why not?

Either way my plans for the new year are wild! Since I get this opportunity to reset I’m going to do it big. Keep reading. The Chronicles are about to get even better.

Photo credit to Clair Crawshaw