The Power of Written Goals + Accountability

You might have heard of the famous Harvard/Yale study where the alumni who wrote down their goals achieved far more than the alumni who didn’t.

Well, that “study” turns out to be an urban myth.

However, there is a real research study — from Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University — that did show actual benefits.

The summary:

Those who wrote goals down achieved 42% more than those who merely thought about (but didn’t write) their goals.

Those who wrote their goals as well as their action commitments, and then sent those to an accountability partner each week, along with a report on how they did with their goals/commitments the past week, achieved 77% more than those who merely thought about their goals.

Imagine achieving 77% more than what you’re accomplishing now!

That’s the power of written goals + accountability.

Here’s the official 3-page summary of the study: Summary of Goals Research by Gail Matthews of Dominican University

Here are the 5 steps you can use to apply this research:

1. Write down your goals for the next 4 weeks.

2. What specific actions would you need to take, in order to achieve those goals? Write down the actions you’re committed to taking.

3. Review your goals once a week, and try to do a quick daily review this week’s action commitments.

4. To increase the likelihood of goal achievement, share what you’ve written — both the goal and the action commitments — with an accountability partner.  This could be a friend who has committed to doing this with you. Or for additional guidance and accountability, consider hiring a life coach.

5. Each week, share your progress report with your accountability partner:

  • Did you accomplish your action commitments?
  • If not, what might you do differently to ensure that you’ll more likely complete it?
  • What are your upcoming goals and action commitments?

Watch your achievements soar to new heights!

Do you have a friend who might want to try this with you? Share this post with them.

I’d love to know how this goes for you. Keep me updated by commenting below.

This post was previously published on George Kao and is republished here with a Creative Commons license.

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Photo credit: Unsplash