The Data on Goal Setting Devices

The Data on Goal Setting Devices

Now that we’re getting the hang of the concept of building effective goals, let’s take a closer look at some of the research and data around goal setting. A great study by Dr. Gail Matthews from Domincan University of California broke down the different steps of goal setting and determined how helpful each one is towards achieving our goals and overall success.


This study looked at 267 study participants, measuring the importance of goal setting, writing down goals, and utilizing various goal-directed actions. Broken down into five groups, each group was given a specific mission and then their success was measured at the end.


Group one thought about the goal and rated how difficult they thought it would be to achieve in the 4-week time period.


Group two wrote down their goal and rated how difficult they thought it would be to achieve in the 4-week time period. (See where we’re going, here?)


Group three wrote down their goals and wrote down an action for each one. (Like “step one” of achieving the goal.)


Group four wrote down their goals, rated the difficulty, wrote down action items for each one, and shared it with a friend.


Group five wrote down their goals, rated the difficulty, wrote down action items for each one, shared it with a friend, and sent weekly progress notes.


Each group had the same amount of time to complete the goal, and 149 of the original participants completed the study. Of those people, here’s the success breakdown:


Group 1: Completed 43% of stated goals

Group 4: Completed 64% of stated goals

Group 5: Completed 76% of stated goals


As you can see, increasing the number of commitment and accountability devices around goal setting can dramatically increase the likelihood of it actually coming to fruition. But even still, when taken at its simplest data, this study supports the idea of writing down goals empirically.


And just one more fun fact for you? According to some studies, over a third of the US population doesn’t make goals at all. (But that’s not you, is it?)


What we take away from this information is confirmation that writing down our goals and increasing our accountability, measurability, and commitment devices plays a substantialrole in the outcome of said goal. 


Today, revisit yesterday’s goals and consider sharing it (and regular progress updates) with a trusted friend or loved one.

McCracken, M. (2017, November 21). The Real Reason Setting Goals Is So Critical to Success. Inc.com. https://www.inc.com/mareo-mccracken/the-real-reason-setting-goals-is-so-critical-to-success.html.
Riopel, L. (2021, April 16). The Importance, Benefits, and Value of Goal Setting. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-goal-setting/.