Everyone has goals. Whether it’s improving our appearance, making more money, improving our romantic relationships, learning a new skill or whatever, everybody feels the need to improve their lives in one way or another.
But there’s a difference between people who dream about doing something and people who set a goal and accomplish it.
One of the things that people who are able to accomplish their goals have in common is that they write them down.
Here’s why writing down goals can help you achieve them:
We can go through our lives and not really define what it is we want to do with our time here. The simple act of sitting down and formulating your goals sets you to thinking about what you want to do, who you want to be, what you want to accomplish. It allows you to organize all the different thoughts and ideas in your head and put them down in a way that makes sense to you.
Sometimes, we can feel almost ashamed that we want to do something. Or we’re afraid that someone will make fun of us for it. If you’re overweight and out of shape, but your dream is to hike the Appalachian Trail, you may not feel like telling anyone about it for fear that they’ll squash your enthusiasm. Writing down your dreams and goals is a way for you to overcome your “No, I can’t” attitude with a “Yes, I can” one.
Sometimes we can be vague about what our goals are. By writing them down, you can be more specific about what you want, exactly. For example, maybe you’ve been saying to yourself “I want to lose weight.” Well, how much weight do you want to lose? Or you may be thinking, “I want to travel.” Where do you want to go? By writing down your goals, you stop skipping around the details of what you want and get down to the meat of your true desires.
So, once you’ve defined the “what” you can now work on defining the “how”. How exactly do you plan to lose ten pounds? And how exactly do you plan to travel? By writing down your goals, you also come up against these logical questions. All that becomes incorporated in the goal. So, if your goal is to lose weight, you might make a diet and workout plan. And if your goal is to travel, you might make a plan to start saving money. Write down these steps along with your goal.
It can be easy to get swept up in life’s current and forget about the things we wanted to do. Every once in a while that thought may come up, “Oh! I wanted to take a salsa class” or “Oh! I wanted to learn how to blog.” When they’re not part of your daily routine, it can be hard for you to remember them. By writing them down, you’re creating a visual reminder for yourself.
There is something powerful about writing something down. Think about it. The laws we obey are all written down in our code of law. The deed to our house is written. Our marriages are sealed by written contracts. Once you write something down, it’s like you’re making a contract with yourself. You take it more seriously and feel almost obligated to fulfill it. And if you don’t, you feel like you’re letting yourself down.
A study by Dr. Gail Matthews revealed that writing down your goals sharply increases your likelihood of accomplishing them. In addition, sharing your written goals with a friend, setting deadlines and reporting to a friend on your progress also increases your chances of accomplishing a goal.
No matter how large or small your goal is, the act of writing it down is a first step in accomplishing it. So, grab a pen and paper and start writing!