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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 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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