‘Tis the Season to Set Goals!

I’m a big believer in goal setting – always have been and always will be. To quote my hero Brian Tracy, without goals everything else is just commentary. It’s true. If you start out on a voyage you need a roadmap and a compass to make sure you stay on course and ultimately arrive at your destination. It baffles me when I interview a candidate and the subject of career goals comes up in the discussion and the conversation goes silent. The reason: Most of us talk about goal setting but few of us actually spend the time to set written goals on what we would like to accomplish.

In one of Brian’s books he talks about a Harvard Business School study of students in the Harvard MBA program. The class was asked this simple question, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Surprise: Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not written and (are you ready for this) fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all. Nada.

Ten years later, the same members of that class were interviewed again. The outcome was nothing short of amazing – yet somewhat predictable. The results showed that 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. Ready for this? The 3% who invested the time and actually had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together. That’s HUGE! That class and those percentages probably reflect the majority of adults in the workforce today.

Don’t know for sure – but I’ll bet it is pretty close. To me – those numbers tell a story… The real question is do we “get it?”

If you want to push your life and your career to a new level and really make an impact on achieving whatever you want to do with your life – sit down, pen and paper in hand and spend a couple of hours planning the things you want to accomplish. You will be amazed later with the results as long as your goals are specific, measurable and time based. If you choose not to invest the time to write down your goals – well, that outcome is also somewhat predictable.

Most of us are about to take a week or so off from work to enjoy the holidays and we should. We should also spend a little time planning for our future. That’s my plan – what’s yours?

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.