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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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