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Here’s Why Writing Down Your Goals Really Does Work

Here’s Why Writing Down Your Goals Really Does Work

According to a USA Today report on New Years’ resolutions, people who write down their resolutions are more likely to keep them than people who simply think or talk about them — even if the only difference between these two groups of people is the act of writing their goals down beforehand.

It turns out that the seemingly simple act of writing unlocks all sorts of psychological and personal dynamics which translate to real tangible results. We’re talking more than a 100% difference in results.

Pay attention to the following factors. They spell out why writing down your goals, whether they’re smaller short-term goals or “Big Picture” long-term ones, dramatically increases the chances you’ll actually achieve whatever it is you set out to do.

Increased Motivation

Too many people subconsciously believe that simply thinking about doing something is as good as actually acting on it. They confuse thinking, deliberation, and analysis with action. Don’t get me wrong: when you’re setting up goals, you should research. You should get enough information so you can make a truly informed decision.

The problem? People often confuse analysis and information-gathering with taking action on their goals. They psychologically fool themselves into thinking that since they are sifting through all this data, they can hold off on actually getting off the fence and putting their money where their mouths are.

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Writing your plans and spelling them out with a step-by-step breakdown is the next best thing to having a life coach cheer you on every day. It increases your motivation to actually start acting on your goals. Too much analysis and information-gathering, on the other hand, can leave you with a vaguely defined conception of what your goal should be. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people suffering from “analysis paralysis” to have absolutely no concrete goals. Their objective is so ill-defined, free-ranging, and formless that they end up feeling less motivated.

There is no sense of urgency, so they keep gathering information and end up no closer to achieving anything of real value — even after spending a huge amount of time, effort, and even money.

Narrowed Focus

“Where your focus goes, your energy flows.”

I can’t emphasize this enough. If you are focused on something, it’s easier to direct your time, energy, and concentration toward it. Accordingly, writing down your goals enables you to clearly identify what to focus your time, money, and resources on. All other potential priorities are set aside and you can concentrate on what truly matters.

This focus increases the chances you’ll get a return on your efforts. This focus also increases the value of your return on effort and prevents you from easily being thrown off track.

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Clear Benchmarks

If you are fuzzy regarding the things you wish to achieve, it’s too easy to give yourself excuses for failure. In fact, if your goals are ambiguous enough (largely because they aren’t written down), you can fool yourself into thinking that almost any kind of result is a “success.”

Of course, if you were completely honest with yourself, you’d know that there are results that are way more desirable than most developments you get from your efforts. Sadly, it’s hard to stay focused on these true results if your goals remain fuzzy and flexible due to the fact that you haven’t written them down.

Written goals demand certain results. Since you can see the specific results you should be aiming for, it is harder for you to fudge your results. You end up making less excuses and you set yourself up for real progress.

Reduced Stress

Since written goals are clearer and easier to pin down than if they were just in your mind, your overall stress levels go down. When you keep yourself guessing as to what your objectives should be, it is too easy to stress out.

On the one hand, you might be mentally defining your objectives to be broader than they really are. This means you have a lot more things to worry about.

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On the other hand, you can think of your ill-defined unwritten goals in such limited terms that when challenges arise, you freak out. You kick yourself for not having thought of certain contingencies ahead of time. You end up spending more money and time on fires you could have taken out earlier (or prevented from breaking out entirely) if you had only written down your goals.

Small Wins

There’s no such thing as an impossible goal. Let me repeat that again just in case it didn’t sink in with you: there’s no such thing as an impossible goal. The only thing that would make a goal impossible to achieve is its timeline or schedule. These are two totally different factors: timeline/deadline and goal.

If you don’t believe me, just think back to the late 1950s Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States. When Kennedy boldly said that the US would put a man on the moon, a lot of people the world over thought he was crazy. In their minds, a manned lunar mission was the stuff of fantasies. Fast forward only a few years later and the world went crazy over live television footage of Neil Armstrong on the moon’s surface. The moral of the story? There are no impossible goals.

When you write down your goals, you can break them down into smaller, easier-to-schedule modules. The more you can break a goal down into modules that fit a realistic timeline, the more realistic and achievable your goals become. It’s hard to turn your goals into modules if you don’t write them down. You might end up missing an important detail.

Better Systems

Successful people are able to achieve success (and maintain it) by building systems. They automate. They outsource. They do things in a certain sequence that improves the value of their results or speeds up their processes. In other words, they use systems instead of simply relying on getting lucky.

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If you don’t write down your goals, you make it incredibly hard on yourself to come up with a system. You may end up chasing your tail because you missed an important detail or you failed to pay attention to a crucial process.

The Bottom Line

If you want to turn more of your great ideas, hopes, and dreams into a form you can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, you need to write down your goals. They may seem awesome in your mind but you might end up simply running on the fumes of wishful thinking if you don’t bother to write them down. Achieve success faster and more efficiently with less stress by simply writing down your goals. Do it today and start experiencing better results!

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

1. Let go of a few activities

Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

2. Take deep breaths to calm down

This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

Try this now:

Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

5. Get moving

Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

6. Change your surroundings

We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

7. Get some pet therapy

Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

Final thoughts

Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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