In the book - "What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School", Mark McCormack shares a Harvard study conducted between 1979 and 1989. In 1979, the graduates of the MBA program at Harvard were asked:
"Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?"
Only 3 % of the graduates had written goals, 13% had goals but not written and fully 84% of the students had no goals at all.
Ten years later, the 13% who had goals but not in writing, were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% of the students without goals.
Most surprisingly, the researchers found that the 3% of the graduates who had clear, specific and written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the graduates all together.
The only difference between the groups was the clarity of the goals they had for themselves when they graduated.
5 Rules To Follow When Setting Goals
First of all, you need to start with your major purpose in your life. What is this goal of yours that when accomplished can do more to improve your life than any other single goal? Defining your ultimate goal will help you to identify the smaller goals you have to accomplish when you go along the way to your primary goal.
Secondly, your goals have to be written down on a piece of paper. They have to be clear and specific. Writing your goals down is the first step in the materialization process. By doing so you give life to your ideas. It's easy to read and revise on a regular basis. You have to be able to visualize your goals in your mind.
Thirdly, you must always have a deadline for your goals. Do not settle for "all in good times" mindsets. The probability of achieving our goals is higher when we work with a deadline. If you don't achieve your goal by that deadline, don't fret - set another one, and if necessary another, but work hard until you finally succeed!
Fourthly, your goals must be challenging. To make us stretch a little bit. When I was attending a course on the Psychology of Leadership, the lecturer said that the best goals were those which have 50% probability of success.
Fifthly, your goals must be measurable. Even though we can not always apply this principle, because many of our goals are difficult to measure (social success), we still should keep this principle in mind. An example: Earning a specific amount of money within a specific period of time is a real goal. Not just "I want to make a lot of money".
I believe, we've answered the question: How to set goals? You can use this checklist to make sure you have all the principles in place.