Goal Setting Theory Backs Up The Process Of Setting And Achieving Goals

This page offers a concise goal setting theory which intends to act as a motivating factor when starting the process of goal setting. Seeing how powerful it really is, will likely get you started too. Setting and achieving goals is powerful! Although we know it is, some of us hesitate to set goals in life, because it seems hard, boring or limiting. And sometimes we plainly do not know what we want, which makes it even harder!

To write down what you strive for is a well known and reliable method to reach what you want. Goal setting is often associated with results in sports, career and finances. And no doubt there are numerous examples of how well it works in those areas! Remember however, that it is the principles that work and these can be used by anybody and be applied to any imaginable area in life; work, family, relationships, health, leisure and so on.

The purpose of the study referred to below is to show the power of goal setting. It is one of the most famous studies ever done on this topic, and many similar studies have subsequently been carried out throughout the years. For another example of goal setting success, try this page!

Goal Setting Study at Yale 1953
In 1953 a study on goal setting was conducted at the prestigious Yale University in the USA. The study was conducted among the graduate students, and it was found that only 3 per cent of the participating students had taken the necessary steps towards successful goal setting. The remaining 97 per cent of the participants had not set any specific goals, except for expressing a general wish of becoming a lawyer, a doctor etc.

20 years later there was a follow up study conducted among the graduate students of Yale in 1953. They were asked about their health, about their general life situation, if they were happy etc. Most of the answers were very subjective. BUT one area was measurable - their wealth - and the results were amazingly unambiguous:

The possessions of the 3% who had specific goals exceeded the possessions of all the remaining 97%!

I would like to add that I have heard this from the inspirational personal development speaker Zig Ziglar and many others too. However, I have not been able to verify the Yale study. Perhaps it is a modern myth, but I nevertheless believe it underlines the importance of goal setting in life. Without goals, no map.

Setting specific goals work...

...and now the goal setting theory behind

1. Write down WHAT you want to achieve. Be as specific as possible.

2. Write down WHY you want to achieve this. Be as specific as possible.

3. Find out what you need to know in order to reach your goals.

4. Write an action plan for your desired outcome. Be as detailed as possible.

5. Add dates for WHEN each goal will be completed.

I will add more details and examples on goal setting theory and other ideas that have arisen during my personal goal setting as this site progresses. For now, I will leave you with Jim Rohn´s definition of what a good goal should be:


  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A: Attainable
  • R: Realistic
  • T: Time sensitive More on this topic at your personal goal setting.

    All in all, the purpose of goal setting theory is to back up the process of setting and achieving your personal goals. With knowledge about the theory, you will work at the practice of setting goals. And I wish you all the best in doing so!

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