Goal Setting: An Introduction – Part 1

Why It Matters

It has been stated that “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As a self-described planner, I am not certain that statement is entirely true. However, it does seem that one could potentially achieve more satisfaction out of life if one had an objective or objectives and a map to get there.

After all, much talk has been given to the Harvard 1979 study or the Yale 1953 study regarding the importance of goal setting. In these studies the 3% that had a concrete written plan for their goals outperformed the other 97% combined by a factor of ten. If such a study were true, it would be extremely compelling. Unfortunately, further research has shown that no such studies existed and that these studies are urban myth. Fortunately, a study was conducted at the Dominican University of California by Dr. Gail Mathews that showed that accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals did matter in the amount of success one had in reaching one’s goals.

If you could potentially achieve 20 or 30% more of what you wanted to achieve, for 2-5% of your time, would that seem worthwhile? If the answer is yes, then it may make sense to continue reading beginning in the next paragraph… if not, then I do not want to waste your time. Please read or look at something else. Please enjoy life. Please do something with meaning.

For Those Who Cared… What is a Goal?

According to thefreedictionary.com, the word goal is a noun defined as: “1. the purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective.” Many other dictionaries have a similar definition.

Many have suggested that a goal has five characteristics often remembered by the mnemonic SMART.

  • Specific (It is particular.)
  • Measurable (It can be objectively measured.)
  • Attainable (It is possible to achieve.)
  • Relevant (It matters to you.)
  • Time-Bound (It has a timeline to be achieved.)

In our next part, we will discuss what to do with you goals.