We all have goals. We all have hopes and dreams that some day we want to become a reality. No matter how farfetched they may be. You might want to become the top salesman in your branch, you may want to one day own a lovely villa in a quiet little village, in Spain, with a view of the beach or you may want to run your own company that will turnover a million pounds in a year. Nevertheless these are all achievable goals that, if you act on them, can become a reality.
For years people have always thought there has been science behind achieving goals and there is evidence to prove that this is true. Dr. Gail Matthews is a psychology professor from Dominican University, who ran her own psychological experiment and her findings are mind-blowing (did you like than pun?!). Dr. Matthews wanted to find out if goal achievement can be influenced by writing goals down, committing to goal-directed actions and being held accountable for those actions.
Gail recruited a total of 267 participants ranging in age from 23 to 72 and her participants lived all over the world including America, Europe, Asia and Australia, from a variety of different professions and industries. Then each participant was randomly assigned to one of five groups. Group 1 was told to think in-depth about what they wanted to achieve over the next 4 weeks of the experiment, however, they weren’t allowed to write them down but group 2, 3, 4 & 5 were instructed to write them down. Group 3 was asked to formulate a list of action commitments. Group 4 was asked to formulate a list of action commitments and then send them to a supportive friend. Group 5 was asked to formulate a list of action commitments, send them to a supportive friend and then send a weekly report to their friend.
At the end of the 4 weeks everyone who participated in the experiment was asked to provide feedback on their goals and whether they had achieved them or not, and the results were then summarised into the table below:
|Tasks||Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4||Group 5|
|Think about your goals||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Write a list of your goals||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Write a list of your commitments||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Share with a supportive friend||Yes||Yes|
|Weekly progress report to their friend||Yes|
This is the evidence that researchers have been looking for, for years! It proves the effectiveness of 3 different principles that success and motivational coaches have been banging on about.
Lesson 1, writing down your goals helps you to organise yourself and gives you a rough plan about what you want to achieve in life.
Lesson 2, making a public announcement of your goals helps you to practice what you preach, as you fear what people may think of you when you claim you are going to do all these things but don’t do it, people will think you are all talk and no walk.
Lesson 3, having someone hold you accountable will help to motivate you to get something done. You don’t want to let that person down or waste their time. By having a coach, mentor, friend or family member hold you accountable for everything you want to achieve, you will find that you will get more stuff done as you don’t want to have those awkward conversations with them as to why you haven’t done what you said.
This experiment alone should motivate you to write down your goals and start achieving your hopes and dreams that you think about each and every day. Given that in a month’s time the majority of people start the new year with a few new goals in mind, I thought this may be a helpful time to share this little gem of information.