Interesting studies

These three pivotal steps to reach goals have been investigated by an American study. The third of these steps – sharing progress with others – has proven essential for success: In the study, the success rate of the group which took this third step was 33 percent higher than in the group scoring the lowest results.

For the study, psychology professor Gail Matthews recruited 267 individuals with different backgrounds. The study aimed at finding out how three steps would influence work-related goals: Writing the goals down, listing goal-related actions and taking over accountability for those actions. For the study, the participants were organized in five groups.

First, all participants were asked to write down their goals. Then they had to rate each goal according to difficulty, importance, extent to which they possessed the skills/resources to reach the goals, to motivation and to commitment. Participants were asked as well whether they had already pursued the goal and if so, what the outcome was.

Then, the first group was asked to only think about their goals without writing them down, while groups 2 to 5 did step 1 and 2: They jotted down their goals and listed actions to reach those goals. But only group 5 did also step 3: They shared their progress with a friend. The outcome changed from a 43 percent success rate in the first group to 76 percent in the fifth group.

Here are some interesting details about the three steps:

Step 1: Write down your goals. Otherwise your brain won’t comply.

Thinking about your goals will help you to develop ideas. But if you do this too long, your brain will think you already made it. To find a strategy or solution, your brain has to separate itself from your problem. Some people find it helpful to write down their goals while others prefer to develop a mindmap or to scribble. All these actions will increase your chances of success.

Step 2: Commit yourself to concrete actions related to your goal.

If you define your goal but not the process to reach it, your chances to actually get there are lower. Therefore, also write down the process or the steps you are planning to take to reach your goal. Even if those steps seem obvious to you.

Step 3: Take over accountability.

In the study, group 4 was asked to tell a friend about their goals. This group did better… but was not nearly as successful in reaching their goals as group 5. The participants in group 5 developed a weekly progress report and sent it to the person they told about their goals.

So, the keys to successfully pursuing your goals are: Writing down your goals, committing to them and – very important – taking responsibility.

Would you like to know more about the study? You can find it here:




Zur Sache: Gesund und glücklich durch die Pandemie

(Let’s talk: Getting trough the pandemic healthy and happy)

NDR-Talkshow // February 14, 2021

Here you can find more information about the show




Positive Psychologie und organisationale Resilienz

Stürmische Zeiten besser meistern
Mirjam Rolfe

Health, performance and efficacy in times of digitalization and transformation?

This book offers entrepreneurs, HR managers and leaders expert know-how to stay healthy and strong on the organizational, team and individual level. Based on scientific insights and practical know-how from Positive Psychology and Resilience, this book provides answers to current questions, such as:

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Learn how to develop a resilient company culture, use change as an opportunity and get even stronger – as individuals, teams and organizations.

Pay it forward: For each copy sold, one euro will be donated to Refugium, an association helping people who lost a loved one through suicide.

I have given an interview about the book. You can listen to it here (in German).

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