Secret of Goal Setting

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Most of us are wandering in the past, but very few of us think about our life status in the next few years. Yet, our future life depends upon what we do today. When we sail without an exact proper destination, we are tossed away by the existing waves and likely to be wrecked on a stony island. Having clearly defined goals permit you to concentrate your energy on activities that move you ahead in life. If a compass in a steamer has minor variation in reading, the boat may reach miles away from the lighthouse. A combination of the lighthouse and calibrated compass are necessary to get to the right place.

Photo by Ashes Sitoula on Unsplash

Thomas Alva Edison, the eminent scientist, had a terrific combination of goal and action. He used to call media and press before even starting his new invention. He always declared that he was going for a particular vision. It has excellent psychology behind this idea. You do not postpone or cancel the idea of reaching your goal since people are behind your back as they know your intentions. So sometimes, fear of people will get you to the action. Edison was so focused on his actions that sometimes, he slept in a chair at midnight while working. When he awoke, he started working and finished the assignment.

Fifty years ago, if you told someone we would have mini computers that could access the world’s information, flying cars, or artificially intelligent personal assistants and GPRS, they would have told you that you were crazy. But these are the things somebody had written down and put in his action list and achieved after few years.

The Harvard MBA Study on Goal Setting

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The 1979 Harvard MBA study[1] on goal setting analyzed the graduating class to determine how many had set goals and had a plan for their attainment. Interestingly enough, the results of1979 Harvard MBA study are identical to the supposed 1953 Yale study.

In the Harvard Business School MBA study on goal setting, the graduating class was asked a single question about their goals in life. The question was this:

Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment?

Before graduation, it was determined that:

· 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all

· 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans

· 3% of the class had both written goals and concrete plans

The result was interesting; 10 years later, the 13% of the class that had set written goals but had not created plans made twice as much money as the 84% of the course that had set no goals. However, the apparent kicker is that the 3% of the class with both written goals and a plan were making ten times as much as the rest of 97% of the course.

Harvard MBA study on goal setting:

#1 — Set a Highly — Specific Goal

The goal needs to be specific. For example, instead of saying you want to be rich, come up with an exact sum of money. As outlandish as it might seem to you today, it’s the subconscious mind’s focus on that precise number that alters much of your actions on a daily basis. If you don’t write it down, it simply means you don’t believe enough in the goal.

Pick the number. It can be $100,000, $1 million, $10 million, $100 million or more. The point? Pick the exact number and a precise time till when you’ll achieve it. Maybe you’ll say $100 million in 5 years from now. Maybe you’ll say $100,000 precisely in 12 months from now. No matter what it is, just be specific.

Also, make sure that this is a measurable number. It has to be measurable so that you can track your progress. The more you can follow on a finite level, the more likely you’ll be to achieve your goal. That’s why it’s also essential to be very exact and specific here. For example, you should pick the date down to the very day that you’ll achieve this goal.

#2 — Create Strong — Enough Reasons

Reasons come first, and Answers come second. If you have a strong enough reason to achieve a goal, you’ll follow through. If you don’t, you’ll quit. Think about it. In the past, when you wanted something badly enough, didn’t you do whatever it took to achieve it?

The point here is to come up with reasons that go beyond the superficial. Those reasons won’t work, I can guarantee you that. When the grounds are apparent, when the going gets tough, you’ll get going. But when the reasons are deep, and the meanings run to the core of who you are, you’ll push through.

What are some examples of strong-enough reasons for wanting to achieve something? Ask yourself the question until your answer equals the question. For example, if you’re going to increase your net worth by $1 million by exactly 12 months from now, why do you want it?

Do you want the extra $1 million in net worth for the right reasons? If you say it’s because you want to buy a flashy car and a McMansion, you can forget it. If you say you want it for other, deeper meanings, you just might follow through. So let’s just say you want it because you want to stop struggling so much in life.

Okay, that’s a good start, but that doesn’t run deep enough. Why do you want to stop struggling? Maybe it’s because you’ve never really had financial security, and you’re looking to achieve that. So, security is good. Why do you want financial security? Maybe it’s because you want to take care of and provide for your family.

Security, family, and freedom are some excellent examples of deep-enough reasons. But it would be best if you put some powerful language behind those single-worded reasons. And you have to make sure that you write all of this down. It’s great to have deep-enough reasons, but like your goals, you need to be writing it down so it moves from the abstract into reality.

#3 — Develop a Thorough Plan

No matter how outlandish your goal might seem to others, the only person that has to believe in it at first enthusiastically is you. However, regardless of what that goal is, why you want it, you need to create a plan if you’re going to follow through. Without a plan, you’re dead in the water.

It doesn’t mean you need to know every step you took. In the supposed Harvard Business School study, if it were to exist genuinely, I would postulate that 3% that had a plan put some thought into it, but they didn’t know every single step along the way. It was a general sense of direction that would have been fleshed out annually, monthly, weekly, and even daily along the way.

Come up with a plan that’s thorough enough so that your goals have direction. Don’t be left floundering out there. How are you going to achieve those lofty goals? Create a roadmap that will take you from Point A to Point B. Put enough energy and enthusiasm behind this, even if it takes you days or weeks to complete.

Will you start a business? If so, what kind of business? What are some of the steps you need to do along the way to start that business? Legal requirements? Do you need an attorney? An accountant? Website design? Product manufacturing? What will you do? Detail out the steps, no matter what they are, and try to be as thorough as possible.

If you’re going to lose weight, buy a new house, or anything else, create the steps you need to follow to see things through. It is an integral part of achieving your dreams, and without it, you might just find yourself giving up before you make any real progress.

Photo by Tom Morbey on Unsplash

#4 — Take Massive Action

Having a plan is excellent. But if you don’t do anything to see your plan through, what’s the point? It’s easy to see now why few people in that supposed Harvard Business School study on goal setting made so much money. So few people set goals the right way and develop a plan and take massive actions to see things through to fruition.

You have to decide what group you’re going to fall under and then find the motivation and inspiration daily to follow through. However, to take action, you’ll need to do things like stamp out procrastination. Procrastination, as they say, is the silent killer. It’s primarily responsible for the 92% of people that don’t follow through with their New Year’s resolutions.

Also, in order to take action, you need to ensure you avoid time-wasters by effectively managing your time and quitting your bad habits. If your bad habits are holding you back, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the time to take massive action daily towards achieving your goals.

We have all of these distractions in life that it’s so easy to get sidetracked. From social media to in-person socializing, over-indulgence in television, and everything in between, it’s pretty easy to veer off track, but it’s crucial to stay on course. Keep yourself motivated and enrich yourself with a daily dose of inspiration is all you need to keep on track.

If your goals are meaningful enough to you, you’ll follow through. You’ll do what it takes so that you can become like the 3% group in the Harvard Business School study and not like the other 97% group. And to do that, you have to be willing to go the extra mile.

#5 — Manage, Track and Adjust

Daily goal setting and management of your goals are vital as it helps you to achieve milestones along the way to those bigger long-term goals. Daily goals are great also because it allows you to track your results along the way.

For example, if you set the goal of getting out of debt to the tune of $24,000 within 12 months, you can come up with monthly, weekly, and daily plans to achieve just that. So $24,000 of debt paid off in 12 months means $2,000 per month. That might sound like a lot, but not when you look at things on a more finite scale.

$2,000 per month is roughly $66 per day. How can you save or cut out $66 per day in expenses? How can you also earn some side income to make that number more of a reality? Again, if you’re committed enough, you’ll find a way. But $66 per day sounds much more conceivable than $24,000 of debt, isn’t it?

So, track your results by setting daily goals. Then, if you see that something isn’t working out the right way, you can adjust your approach. But, similar to a plane that might veer off course due to air traffic congestion, turbulence, or an oncoming storm, you have to make a shift so you can reach your goals. You can’t just give up.

The supposed Harvard Business School study teaches us that accomplishing our goals might be difficult. But it’s not impossible. As long as we stay focused on our goals and do the required hard work, we’ll get there over time. It just won’t happen overnight. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. But in time, it will happen. It’s only a matter of time as long as we don’t give up.

Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash

What You sow, so you reap

Many of us spend time doing things that do not help us move closer to our goals. Your future life is dependent on the things you do today. You cannot live your dreams in the future if you spend your life today doing average things. If your vision is to fit within the next year, you will not get there if you keep eating junk foods and avoiding regular exercises.

[1] Source:

Version One Is Better Than Version None

Join For Free Reading




Former aircraft engineer IAF, Retired Branch Manager SBI, Psychologist, Best Selling Author & Defence Recruitment Trainer

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Habits Get Nature’s Attention (or Habits Magic)

Best Self-Help stress management strategies to keep stress at bay

On ‘Putting yourself out there’

Learning Your 1st Foreign Language is the Most Painful… Here Are 5 Pieces of Advice I Wish Someone…

A Vision of Self Improvement

On wonder and action

Wigger or Skater

On Curiosity and Perseverance

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


Former aircraft engineer IAF, Retired Branch Manager SBI, Psychologist, Best Selling Author & Defence Recruitment Trainer

More from Medium

5 tips to succeed in Retail

Blog 2: Jan 24 — Jan 30

If you’re like most people, you probably think of medical spas as places where you go to get…

From Ideas To Start-ups: 5 Best Entrepreneurship Programs For High School Students