The next step to achieving Goal Setting Mastery is writing your goals down. There is a power in doing this that cannot be overestimated.
Anyone can have goals but unless they’re written down, you’re not doing all you can to achieve them.
We all know the incredible story of the Harvard business school graduates and their results that rose from writing their goals down. Unfortunately, that’s all it is, a story. There’s no evidence to show that any of that happened. I wish it were true, but I prefer to deal with actual facts. I’ve spoken before of Dr Matthews and her study which really did take place. Her findings mirrored the mythical Harvard study, not quite as dramatically in favor of writing goals down but almost. She discovered that regularly writing goals down increased one’s chances of achieving them by 33%.
33%! That’s incredibly impressive.
“Why is it so much more effective?” you may ask. Could it be that the sorts of people who write goals down are the sorts of people who push hard to achieve their goals? That would all but invalidate the value of writing them down. I don’t believe that to be true.
What happens when you don’t write a goal down? Is it even a proper goal? Let’s say you watch Rocky and become inspired. Do you rush to your goal chart and scribble “Get really fit and musclebound” on it and plan ahead the next four years of your life? You might and you might not. If you didn’t, you’d probably forget about it by the time you finished the movie and it wouldn’t become part of your life at that time. If you did write it down, even without expanding on it, the chance that you would be able to build a habit around it and make a routine out of becoming fit and musclebound, would be greater.
I think of things I really want to remember all the time. Things I want to say, funny things I hear, interesting things I see, ideas for books, courses, training sessions etc., and if I didn’t write them down I would not have a cat in hell’s chance of remembering them. Imagine how slim then the chances of recalling a grand plan for my life if I didn’t have it in black and white in front of me.
Goals are often big and expansive, complex and involved. You won’t remember every action, every nuance, every failure, if you don’t write them down. You’ll have nothing to look back on or base your future actions on.
9 out of 10 New Year’s Resolutions are forgotten by the wayside by mid-January. How many of those do you think are written down?
It’s not only your conscious mind that you’re impacting by writing down your goals, but you’re also telling your subconscious what you plan to do, you are communicating the plan for your life. When you tell your mind something and frequently re-iterate the same thing, you start to believe it; it becomes a fact for you. Remember that people will take action to protect the identity that they’ve set for themselves. If you genuinely believe that you’re the sort of person that takes action, you’ll take action. If you absolutely believe that you’re the sort of person that gives up easily, that’s what you’ll do.
How often do you hear people say, “I’m great at starting things, but not so good at finishing them.” I want to shake those people. Why, first of all, are you shouting about your crappy staying power? Secondly your ability to finish things isn’t some random skill given to a chosen few. It’s a decision that you’re making. It’s the same as people who don’t fall asleep the moment their head hits the pillow and then say, “I can’t sleep.” Well, you can’t now! You’ve just convinced yourself of that.
When you tell your subconscious mind that you’ve got a plan to succeed in your career, and you systematically create a plan, review it frequently and bolster your commitment by
making strides towards your ultimate goals, the power of that is substantial. Missing out the writing step would lessen your ability to:
- Remember what your goals are
- Utterly commit to achieving your goals
- Fully embed your goals in your life and consciousness
The reality is that writing them down anywhere is better than nothing. You could write your goals down on the back of a bus ticket and as long as you review and update regularly it will still be infinitely better than not writing them down.