Set yourself apart from 90% of Americans

January 3, 2011

In my personal reading and research I’ve come across many books from famous sales and personal performance Guru’s that quote a famous Yale study that extol the virtues of setting goals. I have even quoted this survey to give credence to my belief in goal setting as a practice worth pursuing. I was embarrassed to find that the study is a myth.

So, is goal setting a waste of time? NO. I know it has helped me personally and I know it has helped many others. In my research, I did find a study conducted at by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University that proves the rewards of goal setting. I will give you the highlights, and give you the link to the entire article at the bottom.

Study Backs up Strategies for Achieving Goals: Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews has advice for those who put ‘stop procrastinating’ on their list of New Year’s resolutions: Matthews recruited 267 participants from a wide variety of businesses, organizations, and networking groups throughout the United States and overseas. Participants in Matthews’ study were randomly assigned to one of five groups.

Group 1 was asked to simply think about the business-related goals they hoped to accomplish within a four-week block.

Groups 2-5 were asked to write their goals 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 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.Of the original 267 participants, 149 completed the study. These participants were asked to rate their progress and the degree to which they had accomplished their goals.

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.

Obviously goal setting has clear performance benefits, but only if you follow some important rules. I would like to explore the rules and the reasons behind them.

1. Write them down. You can dream, or you can plan. The simple act of writing down a goal changes the game. Nothing is real unless you can see, feel, and touch it. (And I’m not talking about faith here) Once you write down a goal it becomes real, and the law of attraction is put into play.

2. Time lines and plans. We all work off deadlines, and when is most of the work done on a project with a deadline? Last minute. Ask me why I am writing this Article on Monday evening at 8:15 PM…because it is due today. Without a deadline, it does not matter when we achieve the goal, and we often never do. So set reasonable deadlines and unless something significant happens…stick to them. Also, plan for success. You need to have a written plan of action with deadlines for activities. Just like a builder, or project manager, you need to create a punch list so you can cross of the activities and see the progress you are making.

3. Emotionalize your goals/dreams. Once you attach emotion to a goal, it is like increasing the horsepower of your goal seeking engine…it will get you there faster. When I say tie emotion to a goal, what I mean is, say for example you want to earn / save enough money to pay for your child’s college education. Visualize the experience and the feeling you will have watching your son/daughter receive their diploma, knowing you provided that opportunity. That will add horsepower to your goal

4. Share your goals with people you trust and respect, and give them updates. Most of us do not like to disappoint those whom we respect, and we keep our dreams/goals a secret. By sharing your goals, you add self induced pressure to perform. It is a powerful motivator. In addition, many of us are very selfless, and while we will not do many things for ourselves, we will for others. Carry your goals with you and share them with anyone you feel could be helpful.

5. Review your plans and timelines: You never give up on a dream. However, life’s obstacles often get in the way, and we need to change course, accelerate, or slow down. By reviewing your goal and checking your progress, on a regular basis, you will know where you are at on the map and be able to calculate your ETA. Just like on a trip, you may need to change course, or time frame, but not the destination.

6. Program your subconscious mind: The subconscious mind is the most powerful center of the brain and controls 90% of all human function. You don’t have to think to breathe, beat your heart, or digest your food. And the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real, and what is imagined. Ever had a dream that you were falling? Tell me you didn’t think it was real when you woke up all sweaty with your heart in your throat.

Our subconscious mind is a problem solving power house. Ever gone to sleep with a problem and woke up with a solution? That’s the subconscious mind, it never sleeps. If you dwell upon your goals ever day, your subconscious mind will bring opportunities into focus, solve problems and help you achieve your goals. All you need to do is feed it suggestions.

One way is to find images that represent your goals and put them in your portfolio, phone, screen saver, car, office, and bathroom. Yep, I said bathroom. Why? What is the first thing you see when you get up in the morning, and when you go to bed at night? Your face in the mirror. Tape your goals to your mirror. I know it sounds corny, but I have done it, and it works. Make your goals the first thing you see in the AM, and the last thing at night before you sleep, your subconscious mind won’t be able to resist.

Goal setting is one of 7 Key HPA’s High Performance Attributes shared by all million dollar producers. I believe in setting goals.

Happy New Year, and Good Hunting in 2011!

David Connolly


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