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The 7 Best TED Talks for Goal Setting

We are calling all goal-getters! Do you ever feel like you need a boost of inspiration to tackle your goals head first? Or maybe you need a quick pep talk to get started planning your dreams because you’ve been putting it off. Whatever your current goal situation is, rest assured, there’s a TED talk to get you through it. 

What makes TED talks so unique? You don’t need hours to watch or listen to these bite-sized snippets of wisdom from renowned experts across the globe. TED talks are short and powerful, which means you can squeeze them into your already busy schedule. Are you ready to get started? Here are our favorite TED talks for goal setting. 

The 7 Best TED Talks for Goal Setting

1. Tim Ferriss: Why you should define your fears instead of your goals

Tim Ferriss is an entrepreneur, investor, and the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including The 4-Hour Workweek. In this 13-minute TED talk, Ferriss explains why fear-setting and understanding the things that scare us most is more important than setting goals.

Defining our fears and examining the costs of choosing not to act is how to overcome self-paralysis and indeed chase after our dreams, Ferriss argues. This talk is a great one to listen to if you need an extra push to get started.

2. Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself

Derek Sivers is a musician, author, and entrepreneur, most notably known as the CD Baby founder. In this 3-minute TED talk, Sivers explains why it may be more beneficial to keep our goals to ourselves rather than share them aloud.

Defending his position with research, Sivers suggests people who share their plans might not stay motivated to achieve them. This talk is worth considering, especially if you tend to share your goal plans with others right out of the gate. Challenge your perspective and give this one a listen!

3. Stephen Duneier: How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals 

Stephen Duneier is a professional investment manager, strategy consultant, speaker, author, and lecturer, to name a few. In this nearly 18-minute TEDx talk, Duneier reflects on his life and areas where he could have made marginal adjustments to achieve his goals.

He talks about the power of breaking ambitious goals down into manageable decisions for a better chance of successful goal achievement. This talk is for everyone in that we all can make marginal adjustments in our routines, even minuscule ones, to help us inch toward our ambitions. 

4. Reggie Rivers: If you want to achieve your goals, don’t focus on them

Reggie Rivers is a former running back for the Denver Broncos, professional broadcaster, and motivational speaker. In this 10-minute TEDx talk, Rivers claims that focusing on our goals doesn’t help us achieve them in a humorous yet knowledgeable manner. Instead, he suggests it’s more helpful to concentrate on our behaviors to achieve our goals. Listen to this talk to learn more about behavioral impacts on achieving goals.

5. John Doerr: Why the secret to success is setting the right goals

John Doerr is an investor, venture capitalist, chairman of Kleiner Perkins, and author of Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs. 

In this 12-minute TED talk, Doerr dives into Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, a simple goal-setting system for organizations and individuals. Doerr explains what objectives and key results are and how companies such as Bono and Google use OKRs to succeed. This TED talk is particularly relevant when thinking about goal setting in the business realm. 

6. Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve

Carol Dweck is a pioneering psychologist in the field of motivation. In a recent post, we shared Dweck’s research on fixed and growth mindsets.

In this 10-minute TEDx talk, Dweck touches on growth mindsets and the idea that we can grow our capabilities over time. Growth mindsets are vital for developing new skills to achieve your goals. This talk is for you if you catch yourself struggling to break out of a fixed mindset regarding attaining your goals. 

7. Angela Duckworth: Grit: The power of passion and perseverance

Angela Duckworth is an academic, psychologist, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In this six-minute TED talk, Duckworth explains that grit drives us to accomplish our long-term goals. She notes that having grit is having stamina and sticking it out, whether it takes days, months, or years before your dreams become a reality.

If the idea of grittiness as it relates to success and goal achievement is intriguing to you, be sure to snag a copy of Duckworth’s book for a deeper dive on the topic. This talk is for you if you’re interested in achieving your goals and harnessing success. 

You have all of the necessary tools and resources you need to set and achieve your goals. So get to it! 

Do you have a favorite TED talk on goal setting we missed? Share it with the GenTwenty community below!

About the Author

Alyssa Towns (Swantkoski)

Alyssa graduated from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Early in her career, her interests shifted, and she works in communications and change management. She lives in Denver with her husband, and they love going on adventures together. She lives for summers in Colorado and enjoys hiking and stand up paddleboarding. She also enjoys collecting plants and stationery sets, reading self-help books, and is obsessed with the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel. No matter where her career path leads her, writing, and sharing her experiences to help others will always be a part of her plans.