top secretLike most people this time of year, you have likely set some new goals for yourself, your team, or your organization. Goals come in all shapes and sizes.  They may be personal or work-related.  Financial, health and wellness, career, or people-oriented.  Short-term or long-term. Lofty or low hanging fruit.  Whatever your goals, there is one surefire way to ensure that they are never achieved.

Keep them a secret.

Pig or Chicken

As far as your goals are concerned,  you have a choice to make.  Are you a pig or a chicken?  If you’ve never heard this before, allow me to explain.

Consider breakfast for a moment.  For their individual parts in the making of breakfast, the pig commits, but the chicken is only involved.  Think about it… bacon and eggs.

Be like the pig.

To turn your goals into reality, commit to them.  How?  The answer is simple.  Stop keeping them a secret.  Sharing your goals causes two things to happen.

  1. pig-and-chickenYou make a personal commitment.  We have a desire to create consistency with ourselves, and we’ll work hard to maintain that consistency, thus making our goals a reality.  If we never voice our goals we can’t be held accountable to them.
  2. We give others a chance to help us.  People like to help people, especially when they can.  That’s good news, because face it – we need people to reach our goals.

What Does Jason Segel Know About Goals?

Jason Segel, from the hit TV show How I Met Your Mother, offers a shining example of how to turn a goal into reality through the art of announcement.

Jason grew up loving the Muppets.  It was his first introduction to comedy and he was passionate about it.  He’s even reported to have shed a tear or two when he met Kermit the first time.

Jason had a goal.  He wanted to make a Muppet movie.  In 2008, Jason took a meeting with an executive from Disney and that’s when he struck.  In that meeting he told her “I want to do a Muppet movie.”

But that wasn’t enough for Jason.  As Andrew Golman explains in his November 2011 Wired Magazine interview with Jason:

Segel felt like things werent moving quickly enough; well before there was any sign that a new Muppet movie would even happen, he took his campaign public, first and most notably on Craig Fergusons Late Late Show [4:40]. It was a dirty strategy, he admits. But I was so hungry to make this movie that I started talking about it publicly just so someone had to say either ‘Were not doing this, stop talking about it or Were gonna do it.

Segel and KermitJason shared his goal on national television for all the world to hear.  A very pig-like move…but it in the new good way.  And I’m not referring to Miss Piggy. He went on to write and star in The Muppets (2011), a huge box office success and recipient of multiple awards, including an Oscar for Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Man or Muppet).

We don’t all have a national stage for announcing our goals, and we don’t all have the goal to produce a Hollywood movie, but the lesson we can learn from Jason is that by putting it out there we greatly increase our chances of achieving our goals.

I Shared My Goal

Time and again I’ve seen the art of the announcement work.  I once had a goal to become an adjunct university instructor.  Announcing my goal, for me, was about telling as many people as I could that this was something I wanted. I reached out to former MBA professors, former colleagues who also taught, friends who had teaching friends, and so on.  With each telling, I felt my goal become more and more real, and my commitment more solid.

One contact made all the difference.  I shared my goal over lunch with a friend who happened to work at a local university.  Next thing I knew he casually, and without fanfare, introduced me to a key contact in the business school during a university mixer.

During this unplanned two-minute conversation with this person I’d just met, I worked in my goal of teaching at the university level. I ticked off a few of my credentials and asked if he had any advice on how to pursue something like this.  He offered a few tips and then at the end of the conversation he did something unexpected.  He asked me to send him my resume.

The rest is history.  I often reflect back on that lunch and ask myself, “What if I hadn’t shared my goal? Would I be teaching today?”

Keep Your Goals A Secret…

…if you don’t plan to achieve them.  Announcing your goals makes them real to you and creates an opportunity for others to help.  I hope the experiences of Jason Segel and myself offer you a little inspiration to get out there, announce your goals, and turn them into reality.  Good luck in 2014!

Adapted from 5 Rules to Make Networking Work at www.alanderekutley.com.  Used with permission.

Photos: [www.conservativehome.com; www.jackizehner.com; www.usatoday.com]

Alan Derek Utley
Alan is a Human Resources Director, Leadership Coach, and University Instructor in Management. His passion is in helping leaders be better leaders, and in helping people achieve career success. When he’s not doing that, he is spending time with family, watching movies, attending theater, sipping wine, or playing softball. Connect with Alan at LinkedIN, his personal website, and on Twitter.
Alan Derek Utley

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