When telling others about your goals compromises them

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As you think ahead about what you want to accomplish in the next few months and years, you probably have several goals that involve you “becoming” something – like a good athlete or a good doctor. These are called “identity goals” because they are goals to achieve a certain identity, and they can be attained by engaging in identity-relevant activities, like training for a marathon or going to medical school. In order to enact these behaviors, we might tell others about them – “Hey, I’m going to run a marathon this year!” or “Yay! I’m headed to med school in the fall!” Maybe we have the sense that telling others about our intended actions will help us complete them, and subsequently, help us get closer to reaching our eventual identity goals. However, in this post, I am going to describe evidence showing that this is not the case: telling others about our plans for identity-relevant activities can hinder our accomplishment of them.