Archive for November, 2012

Will Setting Goals Help or Hinder Your Life Achievement?

Friday, November 9th, 2012

I suspect that the future of personal development is being born right now, but not in the sophisticated online marketing scams techniques of some bloggers and ebook writers. No, the future of personal development is being born primarily in social psychology and neuroscience journals. My hope for the future is that the next generation of personal development readers, raised on Snopes and Wikipedia will scream out [citation needed] whenever a claim is made or “a study” is referenced. The Age of Information has arrived. Self-help books written B.G. (Before Google) will shock future generations with how confidently wrong they were, how they made broad even universalized claims with only anecdotal evidence. Or at least I hope this will be the case.


Just today Guardian columnist and self-help critical author Oliver Burkeman wrote an interesting piece for Fast Company, entitled Why Setting Goals Could Wreck Your Life. He points out that the oft referenced “1953 Yale Goals study” which allegedly concluded “the 3 percent of graduates with written goals had amassed greater financial wealth than the other 97 percent combined” is an urban legend.

That’s right–the study never existed. Nobody can find any reference to it existing. (more…)