Should You Keep Your Dream a Secret?

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keeping your dream a secret

Photo: gdicecca’s Flickr

True or false: people who keep their dreams a secret are less likely to achieve them.

If you are like me, then your first instinct was,

“Absolutely true! If you want to achieve something in life, you have to verbalize it, put it out there and tell people so they hold you accountable.

At least that’s what I was always told from wise folks, research and books. It seems that the second you conjure up a dream, the next logical step is to figure out your “dream pr plan” or decide how you can best inform the masses. No secrets involved.

I’ve done the “spread-the-dream-like-wildfire approach” before. Has it worked? Yes, but you can surely pinpoint a time you told the world how great you were going to be and it never happened.

(I still don’t own wash-board abs or a roller derby contract.)

Begin somewhere; you cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do.
-American Journalist, Liz Smith

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

If you are puzzled about why you should keep your dream a secret, let me open your mind to this video.

Derek Sivers did his TED talk last year on why we should keep our goals a secret. His idea, which is backed up by research going back to the 1920s, is that when we tell people about our aspirations, we instantly feel a sense of accomplishment when they validate our plans.

Oh, wow! That’s great!

You’re amazing!

I admire you so much!

(Feels good, right?)

Well, that heightened feeling from initial praise is what we want to feel when we complete the goal. But, if we feel that before going through the hard work, then we are more likely to not finish our dream.

Repeated psychological research explains that:

Telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen.

After watching this, I realized that I do have a few secret dreams in my life that I obviously can’t spill.

Here’s how I keep my dreams a secret:

  • Journaling. When it comes to certain goals, it’s just me and “Dear Diary” who know about the action plan and progress towards it.
  • Dream Board. I make a lofty collage of all the things I want in life. I mesh quotes with photos and super nice editorial pictures from glossy magazines.

8 Women Dream is dedicated to sharing dreams. I think the main takeaway here is to make sure you are staying on track while you share your goals. We don’t want you to trick yourself into thinking the hard work is not a part of it.

After being introduced to this goal-setting (or mouth-shutting) technique, will you keep a secret about some of your dreams?


  • Rayne

    I think the older I get the less I value secrets. Transparent is easier, especially when it comes to dreams.

  • Tina C

    I believe in what Cassandra Goduti says about successful dream achievement on Associated Content: “Nothing will happen unless you write that dream down on a piece of paper. Once it is on that piece of paper you have the start to make it happen. How do you do this? You write a plan. The plan that you would be creating would in actuality be a marketing plan just like in business, but you would be writing it for to make what you dream come to life. The only thing is that this would be created personally for you. When you start to list the steps to get to your dream you can’t help but become more inspired. And in listing the steps you also find out how realistic you dream is to accomplish, because they have to be measurable because you have to be able to track them.” I think this is how you make dreams come true – not whether or not you tell people what it is that you are doing. People confuse this. For example, you decide that your dream is that you are going to lose 60 pounds. You decide that going to the gym three times a week on M/W/F is one of your goals as part of your dream plan, along with not eating sweets anymore. You should involve your family friends in your dream by telling them that you won’t be having dessert at their homes and to please respect your wishes. You might also tell them your gym schedule and ask them to hold you accountable to it, because you want to feel better. You wouldn’t tell them that you have a dream to lose 60 pounds and change your life. You should involve people in the goal part of your dreams, not the “idea” of your dream. Does this make sense?

  • Katie

    I’m glad you found the video interesting!

    It’s certainly something to ponder, but I think we are on the right track with our blogging!

  • I love this TED video and there are several goals or dreams I have kept quiet over the years. Of course since I’ve been blogging… they tend to come out!

    – Heather

  • Remy G

    Very interesting Katie! I love TED too, thanks for the video clip. I do have a few secret ones as well, that I manifest thru journaling – but I havent looked at the validation feel good angle before…I will have to ponder that! Thanks for a Monday morning mental party! xox Rem

  • LOL love it, love TED.

    Interesting thought. I don’t write about what it takes to have a top blog (and we still have more work to do) as my posts. I write more about where I am with dreaming or what I found out about dreaming each week. In turn, I work on this blog every single day. Yesterday was the first Sunday I’ve taken time off from this blog in 2 years.

    Maybe I continue working on the blog goal because I don’t talk about it?

    I do worry that by not talking about the blog work I do, I make managing a blog, driving traffic and online marketing look easy because no one is hearing about the amount of hours (or work) that goes into 8WD each week. On average, I spend 25 hours a week working on the back-end and marketing side of this blog. This doesn’t include the emails, or phone calls. It could easily be a full-time job.

    Great post and something to think about. I would tell people to write down their dream goal and all the steps they think they need to get there and use that as a road map. Isn’t that kind-of what we are doing here?