This note is in response to one that was forwarded to me by a friend recently, which I felt needed some clarification in terms of how Law of Attraction works. I have included the original note at the bottom of this post.
Mr Sivers’ note seems to be focusing on the "announcement" of the “goals”, rather than the intention itself and, in my mind, there is a clear distinction between a goal and an intention. A “goal” is defined as "The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective" and, while the word "intention" is often used interchangeably with the word "goal", when we use it in terms of "stating your intention", we are talking about a mindset that exists in order to achieve a desired outcome, rather than the outcome itself.
While Law of Attraction does say that knowing what we want is crucial to the process of manifestation, it does not suggest that we make public declarations about our goals. While stating our goals to others can feel helpful, and studies show that written goals are much more likely to be achieved, it is not at all necessary to “tell” anyone about them. In fact, it can actually be counter intuitive if the declaration is being used as a way to "convince" ourselves or others of something that we don't really "believe" is possible. If we are inclined to announce our goals, we may think we are doing so as a way of holding ourselves accountable but, in reality, we may just be doing it to cover up the fact that we aren't really committed to them in the first place hence, Mr. Sivers’ suggestion to ask a friend to “kick my ass” if I don’t lose 20 pounds is quite relevant.
If we use Mr. Sivers' example of eating healthy meals as being a successful goal, while going to the gym as being unsuccessful, we have to first examine what the "true" goal was and add to that what the underlying "belief" is regarding that goal. If the "true" goal was to be thinner, then there may be a "belief" that only one of the methods was really necessary in order to achieve it. Even though the person knows or agrees that going to the gym will help him to lose weight, he or she may not really feel that a commitment to it is possible, either because of an aversion to exercise, a belief that they just can't/won't do it or simply because, deep down, they just don't place as much value on fitness as they do on thinness and healthy eating.
Law of Attraction says "that which is like unto itself is drawn" and that simply means that what you give your attention to is what manifests. So, in this scenario, the formula using Law of Attraction would begin with a very honest assessment of what it is you "truly" want. If it is to lose 20 pounds, then why do you want that? Is it for health? To find a partner? To be more accepted in society? To look better? Once you know the goal beneath the goal, or the "true" goal, you can then identify your "intention" and, in doing so, set more appropriate, and therefore achievable, "goals". If the "true" goal is for health, then the next step is to begin thinking of all the reasons "why" you want to be healthy and what that will feel like and look like to have it come true. Say to yourself “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” and imagine how your life will be different and what will be possible once you have achieved this goal. Look for examples around you, of other people who inspire you in this area, especially those who may not have been likely to achieve this goal, but did it anyway.
The next step is to “ask” for what you want and this is where the declaration comes in. It is one thing to know that you “want” something, but in order for the Universe to do its job (which is always, without exception, to answer “Yes”) we must actually “ask” for it. This can be as simple as saying the words to ourselves out loud or in our heads or writing them down as a list of goals. Again, it is not necessary to tell anyone else about it. In that moment, your desires are granted.
The next step is to make sure your thoughts and beliefs are in alignment with what you have asked for. To help with this, you must be open an willing to see that what you want is possible. As the song says, "All the Proof you'll ever need is all around you" and this applies to much more than just the Divine. It applies to EVERYTHING. All you have to do is look for the evidence and you will begin to notice it everywhere (this is what we call "synchronicity"). THIS is when your goals start to really seem "possible".
Now, when you begin to see this evidence, let yourself get EXCITED, not only for what is possible but for what exists in you, ALREADY. Begin to look at yourself and what you can identify as the success that you have in this area. Most likely, you will find that you are quite healthy, and you just need to "tweak" a few things to really "step into" your picture of total health. Once you appreciate what you already have, taking it to the next level seems much more "doable". This is called the "rampage of appreciation" and is a critical stage because it helps you to bring forth positive emotion about the goal and ANYTIME we feel emotion about ANYTHING, the stronger we are attracting it. (That works for negative emotion, too. The more we dwell on something we don't want, and indulge our negative feelings, the more we attract it, because we are focusing on it and "energizing" it even further with negative emotion.)
So, when you are excited about what is you begin to send out a "vibration", that is a better "match" to your desires, and once you are a “vibrational match” to what you want, are in alignment with it and it has no choice but to manifest in your reality.
Lastly, be aware of what provokes your negative feelings and beliefs about the goal. It’s possible that certain actions or behaviors that “should” be helpful only serve to add to your stress and cast further doubt about whether you can achieve this goal or not, especially if it’s something that, deep down, you don’t believe will work. For instance, focusing on “healthy eating” rather than “diets” has been proven to be a more effective strategy, largely because dieting causes you to focus on precisely what you are trying to have Iess of: FOOD. So, what are you attracting? MORE FOOD!
Putting it simply, it’s like wanting to hear a broadcast from 1010 AM and then setting your radio dial to 99.9 FM. The frequencies don’t match up. It’s not that 1010 AM isn’t possible to tune into, it just takes awareness in order to know how to tune into that particular station. Likewise, your thoughts and emotions are frequencies and they have to line up with what you desire.
So, why not try this? Start with something small that you have little emotional investment in. Be careful, because if you are skeptical, you will be sending out a contrasting vibration which will inhibit the process (like the “static” when two stations are close together and you can hear them both but neither comes through clearly). See if you can practice the above techniques in relation to this goal. Do this for a couple of days and let yourself be open to finding the evidence to support it. It takes practice to master it, but it will be well worth it, I promise.
"Shut up! Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them"
A note by Derek Sivers, 2009-06-16
Shouldn't you announce your goals, so friends can support you? Isn't it good networking to tell people about your upcoming projects? Doesn't the “law of attraction” mean you should state your intention, and visualize the goal as already yours?
Tests done since 1933 show that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen. Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you're less motivated to do the hard work needed. In 1933, W. Mahler found that if a person announced the solution to a problem, and was acknowledged by others, it was now in the brain as a “social reality”, even if the solution hadn't actually been achieved. NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer has been studying this since his 1982 book “Symbolic Self-Completion” (pdf article here) - and recently published results of new tests in a research article, “When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?” Four different tests of 63 people found that those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them than those who made them public and were acknowledged by others.
Once you've told people of your intentions, it gives you a “premature sense of completeness.” You have “identity symbols” in your brain that make your self-image. Since both actions and talk create symbols in your brain, talking satisfies the brain enough that it “neglects the pursuit of further symbols.”
A related test found that success on one sub-goal (eating healthy meals) reduced efforts on other important sub-goals (going to the gym) for the same reason. It may seem unnatural to keep your intentions and plans private, but try it. If you do tell a friend, make sure not to say it as a satisfaction (“I've joined a gym and bought running shoes. I'm going to do it!”), but as dissatisfaction (“I want to lose 20 pounds, so kick my ass if I don't, OK?”)"