Last year I wrote a book on goal setting.  I am now in the process of editing that book.  As I edit, I will post excerpts here on my blog.  This is from chapter three:

Get ready to accomplish more

I am going to share an amazing story with you.

According to the experts, the story I about to share never happened.  So, before I share it, let me tell you another story.

Years ago, I was in Ireland with one of my daughters.  We were visiting the Rock of Cashel in southern Ireland. 

The local tour guide was telling a story.  According to her, the experts had long ago debunked the story she was about to tell.

After informing us the experts had debunked her story, she muttered nonchalantly, “Well, we Irish never let facts get in the way of a good story.

She then proceeded to tell us the story as if it were completely true.

I like that.

So, here’s the deal.  I am about to tell you a story.  According to the experts, it never happened.

I am going to tell it to you anyway.  Here’s why.

I believe the point of the story is true.

I do not believe the stories C.S. Lewis told in the Chronicles of Narnia really happened.  But, I do believe we can learn a lot from those stories.

Maybe it happened.  Maybe it never happened.  I like to think it did happen.  Either way, here’s the story.

In 1979, Harvard Business School surveyed its graduates.  They asked the students this question.

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

According to those conducting the survey, only three percent of the graduating class had written goals.

Thirteen percent had goals.  But, they were not written down.  Like so many of us, they had not bothered to write their goals down.

The remaining eighty-four percent of the students had no goals at all.

A decade later, Harvard Business School again surveyed these same graduates.

The results astonished them.

The thirteen percent with goals earned, on average, twice as much as the eighty-four percent who had no goals at all.

What about the three percent who had taken the time to write their goals down?

According to the study, the students with written goals earned, on average, ten times more than all the other ninety-seven percent combined.

Did this actually happen?  I do not think it matters.  We can learn from the story.

I have no doubt at all that goal-setters have an enormous advantage over everyone else.

In fact, I would be willing to guess that goal-setters without a Harvard Business school degree have an enormous advantage over Harvard Business school graduates without clear, written goals.

If the story is true, then even the graduates of Harvard Business school did not see the advantage of clear, written goals.

If you want to give yourself an advantage in life, do this.

Sit down and write out your goals.  Be specific.  Instead of writing, “I want to lose weight,” write “I will lose twenty pounds before Christmas.”

Start with long-term goals, then work your way back to mid-term goals, and then short-term weekly and daily goals.

Next, give yourself a deadline.


Why you need a deadline

You may have heard of Parkinson’s law.  Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time allowed.

We have all experienced this.

If you give yourself the weekend to finish that report for school, it will take the entire weekend.   

On the other hand, if you give yourself only Saturday to finish the report, you will likely finish it by Saturday evening.

To fight Parkinson’s Law, give yourself a deadline.  Deadlines create a sense of urgency.

Give yourself a year to hit a goal, and it will take a year.  Give yourself a month, and you will find yourself hitting your goal much faster.

Michael Lennington and Brian Moran dedicated an entire book to this concept.  The title sums it up.  The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months.

In their book, they recommend you try to hit your goals in twelve weeks rather than twelve months.

Give yourself a year, and it will take a year.  Give yourself three months, and it will take three months.


Almost every Saturday, I send out a Tip of the Week.  It’s just something I have picked up along the way that may make your life a little easier.  If you would like to hear from me (almost) every Saturday, just go to the home page of my site and plug in your name and email.   You will also get a free copy of my book on learning Latin (and almost anything else).  Just go here:

If you are interested in learning Latin, you can go through the classes on my site 24/7.  I recommend the book Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  If you tackle the book and find yourself bogged down, you may find the classes on my site helpful.  To join, just click here:

If you want a more professionally filmed experience, check out the best-selling DVD series: Visual Latin.

Or, if you want to skip Latin, and just jump right into learning English words from Latin and Greek roots, you may enjoy the series Word Up!  Warning.   Word Up! is a bit wacky.  You will learn a lot… but, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, too.

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