What Harvard’s Goal Setting Survey Results Reveal

09 Jun What Harvard’s Goal Setting Survey Results Reveal

An often discussed 1979 Harvard survey* of a class of MBA program students asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

Here’s what the study revealed then:

  • 3% in the class had written goals and plans
  • 13% had unwritten goals
  • 84% had no goals at all

Goals SpeedometerTen years later 3% of individuals with written goals had a higher net worth than the other 97% combined! To be exact, the 13% with unwritten goals earned twice as much as the 84% with no goals. Even more incredible, the 3% with written goals and plans earned ten times as much as all the others put together.

It’s a fact. People who have clear, strong goals, especially written ones, are far more likely to succeed than those who don’t.
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What do you think of goal setting now?

Once you know what you want in your business, how can you make sure you achieve those goals? Let’s take this further and look at three smart ways to get closer to your goals.

Like-Minded People

Join a community (like Fast Cash Coaching or Loral’s Big Table) or organizations like Toastmasters and Business Networking International.

Seek out people who are developing the same skills as you are or aiming for the same goals. Share ideas and ambitions.

Success is impossible to achieve alone. Behind every major success story is a brilliant team of people. Bill Gates once said: “If you took away our top 25 people, Microsoft would be a mediocre company.”

Surround yourself with A-class players, whether they’re friends, colleagues, employees or business partners.

Strong Metric-Based Goals

It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re making more progress than you actually are. You could be reading a lot of books, building a lot of sites or making a lot of plans and somehow feel like you’re making progress, when you’re actually not.

Having strong, metric-based goals will help keep you on track towards your goals. These metrics should be easy to measure and have a direct impact on your bottom line.

Make sure your metrics are rooted in time as well. For example, “build a great business” is a poor goal to shoot for. On the other hand, “be making $5,000 a month after tax in 12 months” is a great, concrete goal.

Learn from Those Who Have Been There, Done That

In order to reach your business goals, it’s crucial to study and learn from other people’s past successes and failures.

If you want to make money in real estate, study Donald Trump. If you want earn money investing/trading, study Warren Buffett or George Soros. And so on and so forth.

The point of learning from others is twofold: 1. to get as much knowledge from as many knowledgeable people as possible, and 2. discovering what you need to build the right team for success.

Strong business goals = success.

Surround yourself with others who also share similar ambitions, set measurable goals rooted in time and learn from and work with a qualified team.

* Note: The Harvard Study mentioned in this post is in question. Is it authentic? No one seems to know for sure but evidence seems to support that it never happened. The original source for this information was the book by Mark McCormack, “What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School.”

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5 Comments
  • Sandra McFadin
    Posted at 15:50h, 09 June Reply

    This is a simple equation. One that works. It’s good to see the stats. I always feel more inspired (and accountable!) when I create a circle around myself. We meet, compare goals, discuss challenges and solutions and best..share successes. Thanks (again) for the reminder.

  • Rick Cooper
    Posted at 16:35h, 09 June Reply

    I feel inspired to set some new goals. Great tips. Thanks Loral!

  • Sandra McFadin
    Posted at 15:59h, 10 June Reply

    ASIDE from the validity of the study mentioned, the base message in this blog post is a positive and helpful one. We all know people who make clear goals and a pathway to them are more successful than those who do not.

  • droopy drawers
    Posted at 23:15h, 13 June Reply

    I truly believe you must write down your goals and also vizualize your success

  • Harmen Stevens
    Posted at 00:06h, 14 June Reply

    Written goals have turned around my life. Even though sometimes I miss the deadline, I LOVE the way they give you a helicopter view of where you are right now and where you want to be in the future.
    Whether this study is actually valid is irrelevant. Goals work for you when you work for them.

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