Test your goal settings skills

owlThink you know goal setting? Think again.

I know. That’s quite an edgy statement, but it is supposed to get you thinking.

For, instance:

  • Who was it within you that just reacted to that statement?
  • Why did you react?
  • Do you really think you know everything about goal setting?

I thought for many years that the following story was true as it had been published in quite a few books ( What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack), hundreds of articles online and have heard it stated time and again by people like Tony Robbins and Brian Johnson, who one would hope, checked their facts.

It was a study conducted on students in the 1979 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, yet they were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

However, I have discovered it to be untrue. It’s good to know and another example of why you need to keep learning about and working on your goals. Facts change. Science rewrites. You change. Your environment (where you live) changes. This post has lots. Your goals need changed. Frequently.

There is no such thing as goals that don’t work. It’s just that yours are so boring and impotent you don’t want to do them


The story being erroneous lead me to find some wonderful research, including the discovery below-

Dominican University, California, discovered that people who wrote down their goals benefited from a 76% success rate compared to only 43% for those who didn’t. “My study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools: accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals.” ~ Dr Matthews

people who wrote down their goals benefited from a 76% success rate compared to only 43% for those who didn’t

I also found this great research –

Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change
Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of California – Kennon M. Sheldon, University of Missouri – David Schkade, University of California

Goal Striving, Goal Attainment, and Well-Being: Adapting and Testing the Self-Concordance Model in Sport
Alison Smith, Nikos Ntoumanis, and Joan Duda University of Birmingham


We are discussing goal setting here and if you want to learn more about the second of the three elements proven by university research to increase your goal reaching and succeeding success rate, please read some of the following –

Track the KPIs of your life

Life planning template

I score myself 1-5 times per day on 15-25 different aspects of my life from happiness to whether I did at least 100 ab crunches that day.

I learned from Marshall Goldsmith to write them as active questions (I’ve changed the way i ask these questions now and call them Power or Responsive Questions. I’ll write on it soon, but you can get free training on it all here) that then make me accountable for the different aspects of my life I want to work on and improve, like who I am, how I act, the joy I get our of the day, my productivity, my exercise, health, the way I respond to others and whether I am choosing useful empowering thoughts, emotions or actions.

My emotions don’t lead my thoughts and actions. I respond the way I know I should and have planned no matter how I feel more and more frequently.

When the numbers don’t start to score consistently high, or there aren’t a lot of “yes” check-boxes checked, then I can look at why not and make changes accordingly.

91% of people improved within just 2 weeks

Professor Goldsmith has had a woman phone him up every day to ask him his daily questions for the last 30 years. I’ve turned this into an app and you can get free instructions on how to use it here – Instructions to create your own FREE KPI success tracker.

91% of over 1,700 people improved within just 2 weeks according to Professor Goldsmith who works with the top CEOs and world leaders. And just like them he answers daily questions, over 30 of them, and has done so for the last 30 years of his life.

Questions that help you in –

  • Setting clearer goals on a daily basis
  • Making better progress towards your goals
  • Finding more meaning in your life
  • Becoming more happy and joyful
  • Building positive relationships with people
  • Engaging in life more

When it comes to self-reflection, asking yourself active questions rather than passive questions changes the focus of your answers – and empowers you to make changes you wouldn’t otherwise consider!

~Professor Goldsmith

Take the “are you a Goal Setting Jedi test”?

This is just a series of questions that include, how long you have been setting goals, and if you write them down. None of the questions are personal in the way of asking for examples of financial wealth or details like that.

The questions come from different sources and if you want to score them, you can influence my reporting to make it more personal to you. If you like tests like these that compare you to a large metric of people or defined metric depending on the survey, you can find some excellent questionnaires answered by millions of people at Penn State University, Authentic Happiness Questionnaire Centre.

I’ve answered some of the questionnaires a couple of times now and I’ll continue to do so into the future. It’s like the dashboard of a car or aircraft, but it is a health check of the real You.


Once I knew where the issue was I was able to work to change it to something that served me better.

Imagine if you were asked the questionnaire every day for a month? Do you think that by the end of it you would be thinking differently? And if those questions were active questions that are proven to have an 91% success rate, would thinking about your goals right now be worth the investment of 5 minutes of your time?

You will be able to see your results in comparison to a lot of other people. You will also be able to influence the score value of the answers.

This is just a simple yet effective system to measure the important parts of your life so you have data to work with. With data we can make better decisions and plan for the best route forward. We can hallucinate all we like about what will happen, but we can actually influence our next thought, decision and action to create better habits that serve, systems to make our life easier and ultimately improve our levels of enjoyment, and measure the outcome to see if it has caused the response you wanted.

If you want to know how ell you scored in the survey, please provide your email address at the end of the form.

So, here is the survey: