NYELet’s talk about goal setting.  Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, Professor of Psychology of the Dominican University of California, recently conducted a study related to goal setting.

Matthews recruited 267 participants who were randomly assigned to one of five groups.  Her methodology is stated below:

Group 1 was asked to simply think about the business-related goals they hoped to accomplish within a four-week block and to rate each goal according to difficulty, importance, the extent to which they had the skills and resources to accomplish the goal, their commitment and motivation, and whether they had pursued the goal before (and, if so, their prior success).

Groups 2-5 were asked to write their goals down and then rate them on the same dimensions as given to Group 1.

Group 3 was also asked to write action commitments for each goal.

Group 4 had to both write goals and action commitments and also share these commitments with a friend.

Group 5 went the furthest by doing all of the above plus sending a weekly progress report to a friend.

Goals were a wide-ranging as completing a project, increasing income, increasing productivity, improving organization, enhancing performance/achievement, enhancing life balance, reducing work anxiety, and learning a new skill.  Specific goals ranged from writing a chapter of a book to listing and selling a house.

Of the original 267 participants, 149 completed the study. At the end of the study, the individuals in Group 1 only accomplished 43 percent of their stated goals. Those in Group 4 accomplished 64 percent of their stated goals, while those in Group 5 were the most successful, with an average 76 percent of their goals accomplished.

“My study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools: accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals,” Matthews said.

So if you are planning on making a New Year’s resolution that will actually come true, remember to:

  • Set a goal that is realistic and attainable
  • Write it down
  • Put together an action plan with metrics
  • Share this goal with a friend or publicly
  • “Inspect what you expect” and measure your goal until you have achieved it.

So, what’s your New Year’s resolution?  Write me and I will post it on my website, so you are effectively telling the world what you hope to achieve in 2014!

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