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Why Sharing Your Progress Makes You More Likely To Accomplish Your Goals

Research has shown that sharing your goals not only makes you more accountable, but it fills a need for social connection.

[Photo: Flickr user Ilya]

Sharing your successes publicly may sound a bit narcissistic, but there’s a good reason to boast about your achievements. Studies have shown that publicly sharing your progress can actually help motivate you to accomplish your goals.

In a weight loss research study conducted by Ray Wu, the cofounder of Weilos, a social media platform for people to talk about their weight loss and fitness goals and share selfies of their progress, showed people who posted progress photos documenting their weight loss lost 1.2 lbs. per week, compared to 0.27 lbs. lost when they didn’t use the sharing platform. Strong social circles are seen as very effective in combatting obesity. In a 2013 research study published in Translational Behavioral Medicine, participants who published their weight loss progress on Twitter lost more weight than those who kept their progress to themselves.

Related: Unexpected Lessons From Making Your To-Do List Public

Xander Schultz, CEO of Complete App, says it’s not just making a list of things you want to accomplish, but sharing your list with others that can help get items crossed off that list faster. The Complete App allows users to post their intentions to everyone in the Complete community and receive motivation and praise for a job well done. Schultz says those who publically declare their intentions are four times more likely to complete their tasks than those who keep their tasks private.

"When we talked to people about why they weren’t accomplishing their goals, why they didn’t do all the things on their to-do list, [we noticed] motivation was lacking. They knew what they needed to do, but there just wasn’t that kick in the butt to go do it," says Schultz. Tasks such as go to the dentist or work out at the gym continued to fall to the bottom of the list. "These are tasks where accountability really helps," says Schultz, although Complete App has seen everything from big goals like quitting smoking to tasks like building a deck or training your dog.

Here’s how making your progress public can help you achieve more:

Holding you accountable. Psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, author of the book Better Than Perfect: 7 Steps to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love, agrees accountability is a huge factor in motivating us to cross items off our to-do lists. When no one is around to say anything about an incomplete task, Lombardo argues, it’s easy to push it to the next day and the next week, and so on. Putting the task out there for others to see, she says, helps motivate us to get it done so we don’t look bad to others. Crossing things off your list is a way to save face, so to speak.

Meeting our need for social connection. As social beings, Lombardo says we have a need for social connection. Sharing our goals with others allows us to tap into this basic human need.

Providing positive reinforcement. Sharing your progress with others often results in praise for a job well done. This positive reinforcement from your social network can motivate you forward to excel. "It feels good when you get rewarded, so what do you do? You want more of that," says Lombardo. Getting responses such as "good job" or "excellent progress" motivates us to strive toward more and larger goals.

Gives meaning to work. Posting your accomplishments for the world to see can help to remind you why you are doing what you do. "A ‘great job’ or a ‘wow, your book helped me so much’ can keep your passion alive and propel you to keep taking positive action [toward fulfilling your goals]," says Lombardo.

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