Keep it to yourselfConventional wisdom tells us that announcing our goals is a good thing — telling people about our plans garners us support and makes us more committed.

According to psychologists at NYU, however, our puny human brains may confuse talking about the goal, with actually achieving the goal — which can demotivate us and result in lackluster or failed attempts.

Here’s an excerpt from the Newsweek article discussing the study:

The study’s author thinks it has to do with sense of identity and wholeness. We all want to be an idealized person, and declaring our intentions to work hard is a symbolic act. It contributes to the goal of completing who we are.

That is, simply stating a strategy for [in the case of the study] becoming a good lawyer made the test subjects feel like they were real lawyers, and this inflated self-image paradoxically made them less hard working. They had become legends in their own minds, and legends don’t have to get down and dirty.

So if your goal is to become an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, you may want to keep that to yourself — at least until you’re ready to thank me in your acceptance speech.

For more information, check out today’s Mental Floss article which drew my attention to this study, or the original Newsweek article.