Mark McCormack talks about a Harvard study in his book What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School. The graduates of the MBA program at Harvard were asked,

“Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

  • It turns out that only 3 per cent of the graduates had written goals and plans.
  • Thirteen per cent had goals, but they were not in writing.
  • A whole 84 per cent had no specific goals at all aside from getting out of school.

Ten years later, the researchers interviewed the members of the class again. They found out that:

  • The thirteen per cent that had goals, but not in writing and were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 per cent that had no specific goals at all, aside from getting out of school.
  • Most surprisingly, they found the three per cent of graduates who had written goals and plans when they left Harvard were earning, on average, ten times as much as the 97 per cent of graduates.

The only difference between the groups was the clarity of the goals they had for themselves when they graduated.

So, why don’t people set goals (anymore, if at all)?

  • People think goals are unnecessary, that it’s a waste of time, or else they are lazy or procrastinating.
  • People don’t know how to set goals and what is the purpose and benefit of doing it.
  • People fear failure, rejection, taking the wrong path, lousy decisions, and fear changing (the status quo is safe)
  • People are afraid to follow their passion; they listen to their resistance – their lizard brain.
  • People think it never worked in the past, so why should it work now? Plus, it’s too much effort.