Goal setting is crucial to long-term achievement but how any of us actually do it? Better yet, how many of us are in the practice of actually writing down goals and bringing them into reality?
According to researchers, on average only three people out of 100 are consistently in the habit of writing down goals.
Interestingly, it has also been indicated that people who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t.
Where do you stand on goal setting? Are you in the habit of writing down goals and showing them to others, or do you keep them ‘up there’ where no one knows about them?
If you are in the latter group out of people, take a look at these 8 benefits of writing down goals:
1) Writing down goals makes our dreams tangible
According to certain studies, over 14% of the human population have goals in mind but only a fraction of that commit them to paper. Why? A lot of it has to do with the fear of failure. When you write something down you are creating something concrete and tangible, with real responsibility and accountability attached. What was only a vague dream only five minutes ago is now staring you in the face, literally in black and white, compelling you to get started. Many of us have not been taught or cultivated the habit of taking action, which makes what we need to do seem scary. As a result, most of us won’t follow through. Writing down your goals makes it far more likely you will do something.
2) Writing down goals keeps you on track
When we have solid, written goals that we are committed to acting on, we have a direction for our energy. No matter what happens, you now have a physical anchor in the world that will put you back on track if you lose your way. Even if we deviate for long periods of time due to unforeseen circumstances, the simple act of writing down goals has provided us with a compass that cannot break. Now all we need to do is take steady, consistent action in the direction we choose to go.
3) Writing down goals gives you a reason to wake up early
Having written goals that you can see and read every day gives us a ‘why’. A why – or purpose – is a powerful thing; enough to keep us working long after everybody else has gone home for the night, enough for us to wake up two hours early in the freezing cold to get a head-start. If you don’t have goals you have no direction, which means you fret and waste energy more than you need to. A Harvard study found that a staggering 83% of the US population had no discernible goals. When you know your goals you can get started the moment you wake up, never wasting a moment of your life.
“I can see the finish line with each line that I finish.” – Eminem
4) Writing down goals and ways to achieve them makes them more measurable
When we write down our goals we should also write down a few specific actions we can take to achieve them. Better yet, we can write down measurable steps and specific time-frames for each. This ensures we get off to a running start and actually get stuff done. A smart thing to do is to break big actions into smaller, bit-size actions – things we can accomplish on a day-to-day basis. Why? Planning the achievement of our goals in a logical, sequential order like this takes away the ‘mystery’ surrounding it and, instead, grounds it in time and hard work, both of which we can provide, given the willingness.
5) Writing down goals gives us something to work with
On average, it is said that the human brain thinks 1500 thoughts a minute. What chance does one thought (our goal) have against the rest? It’s no wonder hardly anyone achieves their dreams. By writing down goals you give yourself a great chance of success, simply because you have created a channel into which thought can flow. Given direction to our thought like this is a huge, often overlooked ability that we all have. After all, thought is creative – it is responsible every single human advancement in the world, ever. The simple act of writing down goals and focusing thought in a solitary direction can cause huge things to happen.
6) Writing down goals forces us to be specific
Many of us have ideas about who we would like to be and what we would like to have but these vague thoughts have no weight in our thought stream. As a result, we don’t feel strongly about them – nowhere enough to put in the effort needed to actually achieve them. Writing down goals, on the other hand, forces us to think more carefully about what we actually want. A vague goal on paper looks and sounds ridiculous, far more so than it does in our head. When we write, we are pinpointing our focus for a specific length of time, which leads us to write goals with much more colour and detail than we have ever experienced before. It is the colour and detail that causes us to become emotionally invested in their achievement, which almost guarantees we will put forth the effort.
7) Writing down goals gives more power to new year’s resolutions
Apparently 92% of all new year’s resolutions are dead in the water by the 15th January. Think about that for a second – a mere two weeks after setting them, probably in a wave of enthusiasm, we have given up. What does that say about our ability to persist when we have nothing tangible to aim at? Writing down goals can give far more weight to the new year’s resolution process, ensuring you start each and every year with purpose and drive. Make it a habit to write down your main goals for the new year at the end of December, having them crystallised by the time the clock hits midnight on the 31st. You will be amazed at how focused you feel when you wake up on New Year’s Day (barring the absence of a hangover).
8) Writing down goals and then sharing them will supercharge your progress
There is sufficient evidence to suggest that writing down goals and then sharing them with someone close to you can significantly increase the chances of achievement. When we let other people in our plans, we suddenly feel accountable to them. In many ways, this method allows us to use the common fear of failure and fear of what other people think in a constructive manner. Not wanting to be embarrassed or to look stupid, we will work extra hard to show the other person we can achieve our goal. This is a huge motivator and should not be overlooked when we are attempting something we are not 100% we can achieve.
“When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say ‘why me?’. Just ‘try me’.” – Dwayne Johnson