Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On Setting Simple Goals

Confession time: I've never been a very big "goal setter". Until recently, that is. In school, the highly motivated teacher's-pet type people always had very clear goals for what they wanted to do in the next 5 minutes, 5 months, 5 years, etc. Not me! I've tended to be a little more loosey-goosey about how I go about my days. (Think "Type B Personality").

So, in an effort to be more "Type A," because I guess that's a good thing, I've decided to do more goal-setting. A wise individual once said "your dreams become goals when you write them down", and I think there's some truth to that. So this year, instead of being well-intended and buying an agenda, I've been well-intended AND even written some things down!

It turns out there's research to support writing down goals. This book, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School, says in 1979, only three percent of the Harvard business grad students had set clear goals for their future and written them down. Another 13 percent had goals that they hadn't put on paper, and 84 percent didn't have any specific goals. That's mind-blowing to me because I thought Harvard business students were supposed to have stuff together. It's also encouraging that I'm not alone here (and I'm with the majority of Harvard, alriiiiiiight.)

Ten years later, those who had goals were making twice as much as the other group. What's even crazier is the ones who had written down their goals were making TEN TIMES MORE than the rest of the group.

So I guess the takeaway is goals are good. I haven't made any crazy-huge goals yet like invent the first hovercraft √† la Back to the Future Part II. At the moment, I'm mostly writing down things I have to do (like renew the tags on my car) and rewarding myself when I get 'er done. I don't reward myself with anything big — it could be a latt√© that I would have bought anyway, but somehow it tastes sweeter if you feel like you've earned it.

No word on whether "renew the tags on your car" will make me earn ten times more in my mid-thirties, but I'm willing to give it a shot. And research also says that writing things down helps you to remember them, so, y'know, I remember to renew my tags. Or I'll be more likely to remember my long-term goals.

Any goal-setters out there? If so, let's become friends so you can rub off on me.

Photos by Austin Elliott of Locke + Stache Media.

1 comment

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