Sometimes the Research seems to be Too Perfect!

When I put out the 2004 version of wrote my book Success over Distress, I included a research study that was very simple to explain yet gave dramatic evidence for the effectiveness of written goals. This study involved business school graduates ten years after leaving university. Incredibly, 83 percent of the graduates had set no goals at all! Another 14 percent had goals but they weren’t written down. This group was earning on average three times the income of those who had no goals at all. Only three percent of the graduates had written goals. Yet that three percent was earning ten times what those with no goals were earning!

It is even more dramatic when translated into monetary terms. Let’s say the 83 percent earned a hypothetical $4,000 (US) a month; the 14 percent would have generated $12,000 a month; and the three percent would have earned $40,000 per month! What’s not to like about this study?

The only thing is it appears this was not a genuine study. Someone with an active imagination made it up. People presumably liked the neatness of the study and began quoting the same bogus study. Myself included. I attempted to find the original source while upgrading Success over Distress and could not find it. However, I trusted one of the books which summarized the study so quoted that secondary source instead.

Over the past year I have been working on a new book that is in the final stages of editing as I write this piece. Again I attempted to track down the original source for this study of business school graduates without success. But I did find that someone else had been attempting to do the same thing and determined that such a study does not exist. If you read Success over Distress, or had me outline the conclusions to the study in one of my kinesiology classes, I apologize for inadvertently misleading you. However, in my new book I will quote details of a genuine study that gives us the same conclusion.

Those who write their goals down achieve more than those with unwritten goals. However, those who achieved most, wrote down their goals, developed action commitments and sent their action commitments and weekly progress reports to a supportive friend. That increased degree of commitment, my friend, greatly increases your chances for success.

Dr. Wayne Topping

30 June, 2020