It’s no secret that Harvard Business School is one of the most exclusive and elite schools in the world – In fact, in 2011 only 12% of applicants were accepted. Typically, Harvard MBA graduates can walk into a six figure starting salary within three months of graduation, so it’s safe to say that these are fairly successful people. And yet, even within Harvard MBA graduates there are two groups of people – the successful, and the super successful.
In fact, in a statistic reminiscent of Occupy Wallstreet, 3% of Harvard MBA grads end up making as much as the other 97% combined. This isn’t a recent phenomenon either, it has always been the case.
So, back in 1979 a few of the folks over at Harvard decided they wanted to find some sort of correlation between all of the graduates who end up in the super successful 3%. To find out, they asked graduates one simple question…
Can you guess what it was?
The questions they asked was this: “Have you set clear, written goals and made plans to accomplish them?”
That’s it… That was the only question asked of the 1979 Harvard MBA graduates. The results are listed below:
- 84% had no written goals
- 13% had goals, but did not write them down
- 3% had clear, written goals
Do you think it’s a coincidence that 3% of Harvard MBA grads have clear written goals and that 3% end up much wealthier than the rest?
To find out, ten years later in 1989 the same interviewers rounded up the same graduating class to find out how successful they had become. The results could not have been more indicative of the importance of goal setting…The 13% who had set goals, but did not write them down, were making on average twice as much as the 84% who hadn’t set any goals of any kind. Shocking, right? But it gets better – The 3% who had clear, written goals were making on average 10 times as much as those with non-written goals! (Statistics Source: What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School, by Mark H. McCormack)
If you’ve been wondering what all this has to do with you, now you can finally see why this story is so important – As you’re coming out of the military you MUST set goals if you want to be successful! Furthermore, you must refine those goals and commit them to paper. Figuring it out along the way is not an option; if you’re going to set goals there’s no sense in keeping them in your head.
In short, setting goals makes you achieve them, and if you don’t set goals then you inevitably go off track and lose focus. You don’t go into a mission without an objective, and civilian life works the same way.
Maybe you’ve never been the type to set goals before, and that’s perfectly fine. The rest of this article is going to be dedicated to showing you how to set good goals. There are 5 things you need to remember when setting goals:
- Specific – The whole point of setting goals is that they give you a clear sense of direction. If your goals aren’t specific then they’re not going to do you any good.
- Measurable – Don’t set a goal that you can’t track your progress on. For example, a bad goal would be, “I’m going to find a job,” while a good goal would be, “I’m going to send out three applications per day.”
- Ambitious – There’s a saying that you would do well to keep in mind when you’re setting goals… “Shoot for the moon, and at the very least you’ll land on some stars.”
- Progressive – Setting progressive goals means that each specific goal builds on the one before it, sort of like a pyramid. Ideally your goals should paint a sort of picture or map of how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
- Patient – Lastly, while short-term goals are very important, it’s also important to set long-term goals that are going to take time to achieve. This is how you ensure that 10 years down the road you’ll be where you want to be.
If you don’t think you can remember all five of those goal-setting rules, just remember the acronym – SMAPP. Sort of like, “I’m going to SMAPP you in the face if you don’t set goals for yourself, you lazy bum!”
But in all seriousness, you should be able to see by now that setting goals is very important to seeing success. No matter where you want to go or what you want to be after you retire from active military service, do yourself a favor and set goals to make sure that in the end you get there.
As you continue reading this series, you’ll learn more about how you can take control of your future after the military, so stay tuned!