Accomplish Your Goals with a Little Help from Your Friends

January 23, 2014

actor-goals.jpgMost people have heard that simply writing down goals helps one to actually achieve those aspirations. But is there any research to confirm this notion? Certainly, there have been tales of some Yale or Harvard Business School study which concluded that only 3% of a particular graduating class jotted down their clear goals, and 20 years later that same 3% was discovered to be earning a whopping ten times more than the remaining 97% who did not write specific goals. Well, the existence of this study has been debunked; it’s been revealed to be an urban myth. So is there any real study on the benefits of writing down goals? It turns out that indeed, yes there is. A study from Dominican University tested a total of 267 participants from several countries including the United States, Japan, Australia, India, Belgium, and England, all of whom ranged from a wide variety of occupations. These individuals were randomly grouped into five subgroups. These groupings were asked to approach personal goals in a specific way for a 4-week period of time. The categories are as follows:

Group 1: Think about their goals;

Group 2: Write about their goals;

Group 3: Write about their goals, and create commitments to take actions to accomplish them;

Group 4: Write about their goals, make commitments to take actions to accomplish them, and then share the goals and plans with a supportive friend;

Group 5: Write about their goals, make commitments to take actions to accomplish them, share the goals and plans with a supportive friend, and then follow through with weekly progress reports to that friend.

Ultimately, only 149 of the subjects completed the study. The experiment concluded that those individuals who were required to share weekly progress reports with a good friend (Group 5) accomplished significantly more than those of any other group. Apparently, feeling accountable to another person was a big motivator. Next in line, those who sent their action commitments to a friend (Group 4) fulfilled their goals significantly more than those who did not. It should be noted, however, that those who simply put their goals down in writing (Group 2) accomplished significantly more than those who merely thought about their goals without writing them down.

Well, promising Thespians, it seems axiomatic that if you approach your goals in a deeply considered and thoughtful manner, as opposed to a haphazard approach, you’ll get better results. Yes, all roads lead to Rome, and I’m sure many an actor grabbed the brass ring without creating a to-do list; but, if you’re looking for an edge and feel you can achieve more, it might behoove you to grab your notebook and get to work! Also, as the group that achieved the most in this study shared their trials and travails with close friends, it’s worth considering setting a weekly coffee date with a friend or friends to discuss and update your respective goals. It might be hard to show up every week with nothing to say, don’t ya think?