Last Updated on March 28, 2010 by Jimson Lee
As a coach and athlete, I’ve always preached passion for the sport of Athletics or Track & Field, fair play & honesty (e.g. being drug free) and the pursuit of excellence.
Excellence is about doing your best WITH passion.
I used to wash dishes ay my parents’ restaurant at the age of 12, but I made sure I had the cleanest dishes and cutlery out there. Anyone who knows Cantonese style Chinese food is full of red, yellow and brown sticky sauces! Needless to say, my brothers and sisters let me do all the dishes! It was rare to have a clean dish returned because of a missed spot. I did it everyday for 5 years.
Set yourself up for excellence: focus on something you are passionate about and set a new goal. What is the biggest tip to achieving your goals? Write it down!. Just send yourself an email as “proof” and as a valid time stamp. You’ll be surprised when you revisit that email or letter next year.
The Harvard Business School Study
According to a Harvard Business School study, written goals can translate into earnings of 10 times more than those who fail to establish goals or put their goals in writing. The study of their graduates from over 30 years or research found that:
- Only 3% actually wrote down their goals who were the most “successful” in the whole study!
- Of the remaining 97%, 11% had goals but had not written them down, AND
- Of the remaining 97%, 86% had not yet established goals.
Twenty years later, they polled the same group. The 11% group who had goals (but not written down – group #2 above) were making twice as much as the 86% group who had no goals (group #3 above). However, the 3% group (group #1 above) who had written down their goals were making 10 times more than the average of all the other graduates and 98% of all the wealth resided with that same 3%!
Get out that pen or email! Send yourself an email! Heck, send ME an email!
However, when setting goals, it is important to set the bar really high, and not be immersed in money or “winning” for that matter. Basketball coach John Wooden never mentioned the word “winning” during his 88 game winning streak at UCLA.
The process (i.e. training or practice) and execution (i.e. the competition) is more important than the actual end result of the competition. This includes the books you read the friends you make along the way.
The Dominican University Study
There was a recent research study conducted by Dominican University, with the participants divided into five groups:
- one which simply thought about their goals,
- one which wrote their goals down,
- one which wrote their goals and formulated action steps to reach these goals,
- one which wrote down their goals, formulated action steps, and sent their goals and steps to a friend,
- and a final group which wrote down their goals, formulated action steps, sent their goals and steps to a friend, and created weekly reports on progress towards the goal.
The test was conducted over the period of a month (i.e. short term goals) and a total of 149 participants in the study.
A scale of 8 was used, where 0 is no progress made, and 8 is a fully accomplished goal.
The research findings showed that of the participants in the study who simply thought about their goal (group #1) scored a 4.28 on a scale of 8 in terms of achieving their goal
However, those in group #5 who wrote down their goals, formulated action steps, sent their goals and steps to a friend, and created weekly reports on progress towards the goal scored a 7.6.
Hence, this research supported the positive effective of accountability as those who sent progress reports to friends accomplished more than those who did not. Of course, use YOUR COACH as your friend.
So writing down your goals may simply not be enough. Sending your goals to a friend may not be enough either.
Daniel Reynen says
Nicely written article, unfortunately the “Harvard” study that you refer to does not exist. It’s also sometimes referred to as a study done at Yale. It’s been reprinted in several books and hundreds of websites, but no such study ever took place.
Writing down your goals is important, but you should remove the reference to studies that are nothing more than urban myths.