Value of written goals

Here and there I heard about a Harvard study about having goals drives success. I thought "Sounds reasonable, no need to think about it deeply." Today I heard a talk of Gerald Hörhan and he mentioned the example, again. So my many-smart-people-talked-about-it threshold was crossed and I did a short research to find that study. I hoped to get an interesting topic I can use as material for talks.

And I found an urban myth [DOMINICAN]. But is there any truth to it? The Dominican University (?researcher Gail Matthews and Sarah Gardner?) did a study, because they saw a research opportunity. I found just a summary (see [SUMMARY]) and no original source to the study. But, well, once you kill a cow, you gotta make a burger.

Goal Study
The study split the participants into 5 groups and compared what goals they achieved 4 weeks later [SUMMARY, FORBES]:
  • Group 1 - deeply analyzed their goals and the resources they had to accomplish them.  
  • Group 2 – wrote down their goals after the deep analysis.
  • Group 3 – set action commitments after writing down their goals.
  • Group 4 – did all of the above and shared them with a friend.
  • Group 5 – did all of the above and sent a weekly progress report to their friend.
Goal Achievement [SUMMARY]
The study concludes [SUMMARY]:
The positive effect of accountability was supported: those who sent weekly [short] progress reports to their friend accomplished significantly more than those who had unwritten goals, wrote their goals, formulated action commitments or sent
those action commitments to a friend.

There was support for the role of public commitment: those who sent their commitments to a friend accomplished significantly more than those who wrote action commitments or did not write their
The positive effect of written goals was supported: Those who wrote their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write their goals.
I think the result is astonishing and seems to increase the success rate by 80%. Write down your goals (+40%), commit to the goals in front of a friend (+8%) and send weekly reports to a friend (+28%). Writing actions seems to have a negative impact (-23%).

The ONE Thing
Related to achieving goals, Gary Keller [KELLER] proposes to organize goals in time windows (every Saturday 2 to 3 pm; every morning) to work on just your one thing. No interruptions, turn of the smart phone, just work on the one thing! The one thing might be several (work, life, sport, financial independence, hobbies) - key is not to mix them up. Work only on one and only one goal at a time. Work on another goal in another time window.

He breaks down the goals into long-term, 5-year, 1 year, month, week and now. Another trick is to organize goals that the achievement of one makes achieving the other goals easier (related to compound interest of achieving goals).

Conclusion
Using the study results and techniques written by Gary Keller, allows us to organize and achieve goals more effectively. I will give it a try and then report.


[DOMINICAN]: http://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/dominican-research-cited-in-forbes-article
[FORBES]: http://www.forbes.com/sites/financialfinesse/2013/01/03/5-ways-to-make-your-new-years-resolutions-stick/#367d2a4d6c57
[SUMMARY]: http://www.dominican.edu/academics/ahss/undergraduate-programs-1/psych/faculty/fulltime/gailmatthews/researchsummary2.pdf
[KELLER] The ONE Thing, Gary Keller

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