The Harvard Goals Survey

The "Harvard Goals Survey" often comes up in personal development writing and most of the big name Guru's quote it. The survey explains the importance of writing your goals down. Yet I doubt very much that you will ever find a copy. So I have pieced together most of what I have learnt about it over the years into this article.

The Harvard Goals Survey.

The details vary a little depending on who is describing it, but it more or less goes like this; In 1952 or 1953 at Harvard University (although some tell it as Yale University) a detailed and comprehensive survey was conducted of the Harvard seniors leaving that year. This survey asked questions about the student's time in education, their background, beliefs, attitudes and plans for the future, as I said a detailed and comprehensive survey. About half way through this survey we get to the question, have you set goals? And 10% said that they had. Then the next question was. If you have set goals, have you written them down? To this question only 3% had written their goals down.

Twenty years later, it was decided to contact all the students that took part in the original survey before and get them to take part in another updated survey about their lives now. So they tried to contact as many of the students as they could, many were spread all around the world by then and one or two had died. They managed to complete the second survey, and then made comparisons between the two surveys. When they looked at the two questions on goals, the 10% that had set goals had all reached them, but the really striking thing was the 3% that had set their goals and written them down were worth more financially then all the rest of the 97% combined.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from this –

First, it is very important to write your goals down. In some way that gives your goals a special power and energy; which leads to greater results.

Second, in some way whether they know it or not, the 97% are actually helping the 3% to get what they want. Or to put it another way, they are actually working for the 3%; the professional goal setters. So it is vital when you set a goal to write it down.

Some years back when I first started studying mind and achievement, I thought that I had better find a copy of the Harvard Goals Survey, so I went to my computer and looked for it on the internet, but I could not find it. A few names and articles kept coming up, but I could not find the Harvard Goals Survey. I am persistent, so every now and then I would spend about half an hour or so looking for it, yet I could not find it. I put into the search engine every little thing I could think of relating to this survey. Then one day I found a chat room, full of people looking for the Harvard Goals Survey and none of them could find it. They were not happy. They were calling the big name Gurus and writers who quote this survey, liars! They were calling the Harvard Goals Survey an urban myth! They believed the survey to be fictitious. I thought on this for some time, but it did not sit well with me. I know the work well of many of these people that they were so quick to call liars, and the term did not match those people at all. I thought to myself, surly the number one lesson from personal development is to have a positive mental attitude and here was this chat room full of negative people winging and moaning. So I carried on looking and thinking about the survey.

Then it dawned on me why I and all these other people could not find the Harvard Goals Survey. There never was a survey by the title of, Harvard Goals Survey, no one had actually ever said that there was, yet that is what it is known as. There were two separate surveys, twenty years apart, with unknown names. The Harvard Goals Survey as it became known is just findings; between two questions in two surveys.

The Harvard Goals Survey has been called an urban myth by many, so let's look for the truths in it. For me, I do not now need to find a copy of the so called Harvard Goals Survey to find the truth within it. The truth is a dream lives in your mind. You can in your mind turn a dream into a goal, but the truth is that nearly always the very next step is to write your goal down. It does not matter how you do that, the written word, a sketch, diagram, list or plan. Unless it is a very small goal, something that you can just get up and go and do, then you have to put pen to paper in some way. A written goal then, for the first time, has a physical presence in this world. For the first time your written goal has a three dimensional form. You can pick it up, turn it, fold it and view it in different ways. When you write your goals down, your goals have actually started their manifesting journey towards completion.

Here are the truths within the survey.

• It is a truth that you have to nearly always write your goals down in order to take them forward.
• It is a truth that the biggest achievers in the population are only a small percentage of it.
• It is a truth that you will not find a survey that contradicts the Harvard Goals Survey.
• It is a truth that you will not find a survey that says do not set goals and do not right them down.
• It is a truth too many people do just what everyone else does and they get the average result, like the majority did in the survey.

So we could get all negative about the Harvard Goal Survey, and call it a myth. Or we can remember the number one lesson from personal development, to have a positive mental attitude. So look at how the truths and messages in the Harvard Goals Survey can help you and join the 3%, the professional goal setters.

Source by Tony Brassington

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