Do you write down your goals and dreams on a regular basis? Or do you simply think about them, without actually recording them anywhere?
As it turns out, your answer to this question has a HUGE impact on your odds of transforming whatever it is you desire to be, do, have or give into your reality.
Most people drive through life without bothering to write down their goals. Very few people have specific and measurable goals, and even fewer have written these goals down.
An even smaller amount has also thought of a specific plan to make these goals a reality.
But does writing down your goals really help, or is it just a myth? If it really helps, what’s the best goal-setting strategy?
Forbes reports a remarkable study about goal-setting carried out in the Harvard MBA Program.
Harvard’s graduate students were asked if they have set clear, written goals for their futures, as well as if they have made specific plans to transform their fantasies into realities.
The result of the study was only 3 percent of the students had written goals and plans to accomplish them, 13 percent had goals in their minds but haven’t written them anywhere and 84 percent had no goals at all.
Think for a moment which group you belong to.
After 10 years, the same group of students were interviewed again and the conclusion of the study was totally astonishing.
The 13 percent of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals.
The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined.
People who don’t write down their goals tend to fail easier than the ones who have plans.
This study proves that statement, even if the only criteria was the monetary reward of each Harvard graduate.
When you don’t have a plan, you don’t know how you will reach your destination.
Sure, you know what your destination is and you have a general idea about how you can reach it, but it’s not something that will lead you there for sure.
Think of it like driving in a foreign country. Let’s say you are in Venice, Italy and you want to go to Munich, Germany.
The only thing you do is get into your car and choose a road mostly based on luck or instinct. Then you just drive.
You search for signs that will help you find Munich, but it’s difficult to find the correct way.
You don’t have a map or GPS to guide you. You just drive until you reach your destination.
The possibility that you will find the correct way to Munich is very tiny. It’s similar to having goals that are not specific and roaming free inside your head.
You know only where you want to go, but you don’t know the exact path that will lead you there.
Benefit of setting goal.
- It Helps You Think Bigger
- You’ll Learn More
- You’ll Remember More
- You Won’t Be As Distracted
- It Frees up Mental RAM
- You’ll Stay Sharper As You Age
The Power of Writing Down Your Goals
You see, I’ve learned that there is power in writing things down. It used to seem silly to me. What difference does writing something down really make? Well, it turns out, it makes a lot of difference. Sometimes more than others, but it does make a difference. And in the case of our goals, it can be the difference between never seeing them happen and meeting those goals each and every time. Don’t believe me? I’ll use this little ole blog as an example.
Waaaaaay back when I first started this blog, Travis and I had just decided that we wanted to work towards moving closer to family and friends. After formulating our plan and figuring out a loose time line we wrote things down. I had a bunch of different to do lists, a bunch of questions we needed to answer, and we were working on a more specific timeline that we kind of figured would be 3-5 years. Then I wrote the Lessons Learned: We’re Moving On post. Two days later, I posted Fresh Dose of Reality, and a Couple Free Printables. Travis got a job offer, and we were looking into it. The rest is history! Six months after writing Lessons Learned, we had the truck packed and were moving.
You don’t have to share your goals with the internet, but take time to write them down, you might find your surprised at what happens when you do. I like to take set aside some time near the my birthday to check-in on my long term goals and make some new ones if needed. As I said it above it starts with a cup of tea or coffee. I need time to let my mind wander and dream, and having something soothing or comforting to sip on while I do that is a must for me. I grab my writing utensils, my planner, goal setting worksheets and a pad of paper and get settled in somewhere quiet.. You could do this anywhere really; at home, at a coffee shop, sitting on the front porch, the back deck…anywhere really. Wherever you choose, make sure you can focus on the task at hand.
I start by looking at the goals I set the previous year and seeing where I’m at with them. Did I meet them? If not, why not? Is the goal still important to me, and to do I need to revise my plan for this year?
Then I look at my long-term goals. For me, a long-term goal is anything that will take longer than a year to achieve. I’m a list person, as you all know, so I have a list of things I want to accomplish or do in my life. Some might call it a bucket list, I just call it my list of dreams. This list is fluid. I add to it and take away from it. I reference it when making my long-term goals because sometimes, many of those items could fit into one long-term goal. Such as travelling to new countries. Rather than setting a long-term goal of going to Ireland and the Ukraine (two places my husband and I really want to visit) my long-term goal could be to spend two months traveling through Europe, with a list of places we want to see while we’re there. First I choose my dream, my end result. Then I take a little time to make it more detailed. What does that really look like? Where are we going to go? What are we going to do? How long will be there? I write that all down at the top of my Long Term Goals Worksheet.
After I have that part done, I think about what steps I’m going to need to take to get there. These become supportive short-term goals. I give them a specific name and most important I give them a due date. Some supportive short-term goals for our two month tour of Europe could include:
- setting up a savings account just for this trip
- depositing a specific amount of money into the account each month
- getting passports or renewing passports
- learning a few new languages specific to the countries we want to visit
- researching the countries we want to visit and making a list of places we want to go and things we want to see.
Some of these short-term goals can be started well in advance, and others will need to wait until closer to the completion date. This is why writing down your goals is so important. It allows you to check in on them from time to time to make sure you’re still on track. It allows you to evaluate where you are on your way to achieving them, and allows you to make changes to adjust for things that are happening in your life now, and make new supportive short-term goals that will help you get there.
Once I’ve checked in on my long-term goals, added any new ones I want to accomplish, and made a note of any short-term goals that could help me along my way, I turn to my short-term goals. For me, a short-term goal is something I want to accomplish in less than a year. My process is the same as it was for long-term goals.
- what is the end result
- when do I want to accomplish this by
- define that end result in as much detail as I can
- what steps do I need to take to get me there
Some of my short-term goals are supportive goals for my long-term ones. I still use the printable above, but I make a note at the top of the sheet to let me know which long-term one it’s in support of. Then I hole punch them all and put them in my planner. For me, this is really important. Keeping them in the same place allows me to check in on them often and make sure I’m staying on track. Keeping them in my planner means that I’m able to easily reference them when making my plans for the month or week.
And because I know that so many of you like to use the half-size printables, I couldn’t resist making these in half-size format. I have three for you to choose from.
Just in case you want to print yours back to back and set up a goal setting book, or in case you just want to take one of each for a test drive to see if they’ll work for you, I put the long and short term goals worksheets together on the same page.
Later on this week I’ll share how I set up my goal setting section of my planner, and show you the system I use to try to keep myself on track when it comes to reaching those goals. Until then, remember:
And above all else, have some fun with this. Dream big, reach high, and create the map that will lead you on your journey to making those dreams come true.
Goal Setting for the New Year is fun, but don’t forget to take some time to celebrate the ending of the old and beginning of the new. Need a little inspiration? We’re planning a family friendly party for us and the boys this year and using this great New Year’s party guide from The Super Mommy Club to help us out. And no party is complete with the fun and games, and these printable games from Brain Power Boy are just fantastic! The whole family can have some fun with these. I can’t wait for our little family celebration to start!