Well, I finally found a TED talk that really got to me – in a bad way. Now I know that every “Idea Worth Sharing” isn’t worth sharing with everyone. Each one isn’t going to be the perfect cup of tea for each audience member. I find some boring, on a topic I just don’t care about, or not very engaging. This one hooked me and tugged at me even though it was only 3:15 long. It was about motivation and not telling people about your deepest goals. The premise of Derek Sivers’ TED Talk, that has studies to back it up, is that once a goal is stated then it begins to feel complete for that individual. That’s 180 degrees from how I’m wired and is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
TED – Derek Sivers: Keep Your Goals to Yourself
Please keep in mind that the deepest, toughest blog entry I’ve written to date was Dirty Little Secrets. That spoke about my need to keep some things I enjoy to myself so I could enjoy them simply for what they are. The need to have a secret of my own with zero outside judgement. The question of motivation is something much different to me, although it may be different to you. I’m self-motivating. I attack goals for personal satisfaction and my own sense of accomplishment. Of course I enjoy compliment and praise as much as the next guy. But that’s not why I get things done. The topic of motivation is more along the Why I’m Blogging… And What I’m Getting Out of It.
However, when I state a goal in public, I really mean it. I want everyone to hear it and count on it like the sun coming up in the morning. That goal is important and tangible to me and I know I can achieve it with work. What I’m really doing is advertising that I’m going to hold myself accountable. I’m still working on it for me and now I’m adding additional incentive. While saying it out loud may not make it that much more likely to happen, stating it certainly does not make it any less probable.
A great example of this was picking up road biking last year. For the last decade, I’d been a mountain biker. That’s a different animal than road biking because it has a different atmosphere, goals, exercise profile, equipment, etc. I didn’t actually have “become a roadie” as a goal. I had two other goals that road riding was required to meet. I wanted to do an MS150 ride (yes, it’s 150 miles over two days) with my cousin in Dallas the first weekend in May. I also wanted to do a Tour de Cure ride a couple weeks later supporting a group from my office. That ride had 33, 62, and 100 mile options so I went for the 100 mile century route.
I got the road bike at the end of January. Then I booked a flight to Dallas and signed up for the rides. I then told my cousin, folks from the office, friends, family, and so on. I got a GPS and posted every ride I did on Facebook. And I completed my goals. Would I have done that without the pressure I added to myself? Sure. I was doing it for myself with my own goals. But publicly stating not just the goals, but the progress just added more motivation. At no time did I feel putting the goals out there gave me an out or easier.
Achieving those milestones was awesome for me. I actually used video form the MS150 ride and a picture from the Tour de Cure in a meeting I had the same month securing a promotion. It wasn’t just that I’d completed a couple significant milestones. I could speak with passion about how I went about it and who I am.
I did the MS150 ride again this year the first weekend in May. Then due to my work schedule, family stuff, weather, and any number of other excuses, I haven’t spent much time on long road rides the rest of the month. Sure I stayed in shape, I was on the road bike some, and I did some good mountain rides. Nothing is quite like a long road ride other than a long road ride. Memorial Day weekend, I went up to north Georgia to do a ride in the mountains. There were three major climbs and I was hurting on the first one which was the longest. For some reason, I picked up steam for the rest of that climb. The second climb was shorter, steep, and twisty. I just set my mind on the next curve ahead as mini-milestones along the way. That was enough.
As I said, that’s the way I’m wired. People are wired differently and motivate themselves differently. I’m curious about the study because it’s foreign to me. My reaction is to ask just how much in touch with yourself you really are. Are you rationalizing or motivating? If self confidence is what makes something doable, motivation is what keeps us at it.