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Harvard Written Goal Study …

I heard about this 1953 Harvard written goals study when I worked at Coopers & Lybrand back in 1988.  Over the years, I have shared it with people that I’ve mentored and some who I worked with.  The other night I was speaking with a new CEO of an International media and research company who I shared this.  I decided to follow-up with the specifics.  Apparently there is a lot of controversy about if this study was done, and if so, where and by who (or is it whom?).

There was an article in Fast Company titled "If Your Goal Is Success, Don’t Consult These Gurus" by Lawrence Tabak in Dec 2007 ( that indicated his research it was probably a myth conjured up by consultants, motivational speakers, and success counselors.   There is also reference in  What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormack.  In any event, here are the results:  

Harvard MBA program. In that year, the students were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the three percent who had clear, written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

Based on my experience over the years, I think it is smart to have specific goals and write them down.  But then again,

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