Many of us know the saying that a thought can create reality. For once, thinking of a goal can create an intention, and intention creates motivation, which leads to action and shapes reality.
For that reason, so many mentors talk about setting goals, encouraging their followers to set a goal and act.
Far beyond that, there are claims that there is actually a physical change that is caused by thoughts and creates reality. Something in the energy around us changes by the thought itself.
Taking it one step ahead, researches show that not only thinking about goals but also writing them, dramatically increases the chances to meet and achieve them.
I’ve heard many times about a research in Yale that clearly established the same. Students who wrote their targets on their wall in the beginning of the year had much higher success rate comparing to those who haven’t.
Looking for this research I found that the Yale research is probably an urban legend, but there is a similar and interesting research that was performed by Gail Matthews in the Dominican university.
In her research Gail Matthews split a group of ~250 students to 5 sub-groups:
Group1 – Thought about a target
Group 2 – Wrote their target
Group 3 – Wrote their target and commit on it
Group 4 – Wrote their target and commit on it + sent a mail to a friend about it
Group 5 – Wrote, commit, sent a mail to a friend and sent regular updates on the progress.
Well, not surprisingly, groups 2-5 achieved much better results than group 1. Moreover, group 5 achieved the best results, and groups 2 and 4 the next best results, which means that those who put their goals in writing and continued to share with their close environment regularly had much better results in meeting them.
So in terms of personal achievements there is a consensus and supporting researches. Setting goals and targets, writing them and following up on them significantly increases the chances for success.
The question is…is it the same for setting goals for others? If one clearly defines the goals for the teams, including writing and follow up, will it increase the success rate?
Well, the answer is…. yes.
Although I did not find a formal academic research that supports it, I can testify from my own experience that the more we share the targets with teams, the better are the chances they will meet them. The point is that we should do it regularly. Many assume, that everyone knows and understands the targets, but so many times it is not the case. Even people who’ve heard the goals in the beginning of the way and have a work plan, will tend to forget it and lose focus along the way if not reminded of these goals regularly.
When the communication of the goals is not done frequently, the focus fades away.
So what should leaders do?
Like the above research and especially when not talking about personal goals but team and project goals it is crucial to keep the focus and attention on them.
Personally, I’ve always (and still) sent teams a weekly focus mail, reminding them the specific targets and focus of the week, and updating of the overall progress. Obviously, the targets should be realistic and clear.
It creates energy, clarity and alignment.
Work in today’s world is so dynamic that we must keep changing and adjusting the execution to the reality of the situation and therefor there is a need to emphasize and sharpen the targets in an on going frequency to continue and create the alignment, clarity and focus on the project.
Back to the above research and in the spirit of the current management approaches, we can even take it a step forward and ask the teams themselves to define, write and send their own weekly targets.
This should make them:
Think about the goal/target
Follow up on it!
Everything that gives it per the research - the energy, commitment and intention that is needed to significantly increase the chance to succeed! And in this case – the engagement should increase as well.
At the end, motivation rises significantly when there is clarity of the goals, understanding of them, attachment and someone who sees the progress and the difference…
So simple, so true.
Have a GREAT year full of worthwhile goals and success in achieving them!