Everyone has goals. Whether small (“I’d like to lose 5 pounds before the summer”) or big (“I’d like to make a million dollars next year”), everyone has them.
But there’s a huge gap between having goals and accomplishing them. The act of writing down your goals plays an important part in closing this gap. According to a study done on Harvard MBA students, within ten year’s time, the students who had written down their goals were making ten times as much as their classmates who hadn’t written down their goals.
Here’s how to write down your goals effectively and help you accomplish them:
1. Define your goals
This may be harder than you think. That’s because oftentimes, we get caught up in our daily routines and lose track of our true desires in life. Most people are guided by their circumstances. But there are a few people who shape their lives according to their goals. Who do you think is happier: the person who is defined by their circumstances or the person who creates their circumstances? Which category are you in now? Which category do you want to be in?
Chances are, you’re in the first group. But, the good news is that if you’re reading this article, you’re probably trying to make it to the second category. In order to do this, you have to take stock of your situation. That means taking some time to sit down and reflect. Find some quiet, alone time. Sit down and consider your current situation from all angles and write down your observations.
If you need some help doing this, consider answering the following questions:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- What do you have to do to get there?
“It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
2. Look at the big picture
Envision where you want to be next year, the year after or five years from now. Think about long-term goals. Don’t think about details or how you will accomplish them. Simply allow yourself to dream and to think about what it is you truly want. Whether it’s a personal or professional goal, just let your heart speak. Maybe you want to be married with children in five years’ time. Maybe you want to run a marathon. Or you want a job that you both love and that pays you well. Or you want to take time off to travel. Whatever it is, no matter how far from your current circumstances it may be, write it down.
3. Look at the small picture
Now, is when you start to fill in the gap between where you are now and your dreams. What is the first step? If you want to be married and have children, fill out a profile on an online dating site or let your friends know that you’re interested in meeting someone. If you want to run a marathon, get yourself a personal trainer at a gym or join a running club. Maybe visit a sports nutritionist to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need in order to stay healthy and competitive.
If you want to land your dream job, think about your qualifications. Do you need to take some courses in order to be a candidate for the job you want? If you already qualify, start sending out your resume. If you want to travel, how could you convince your boss to let you take the time off? What about arrangements for a house-sitter or sub-letter? Who could take care of your pets? What other steps are there between you and your goal? Map them out, step by step.
4. Use positive language
When setting goals, try to put things in a positive way. Negative goal setting implies that you’re doing something wrong. It’s like scolding yourself for not doing better.
Below, I will provide 4 examples:
- Don’t say: Stop dating losers. Instead say: Find a successful, loving, supportive partner.
- Don’t say: Stop being lazy. Instead say: Improve my fitness to have the body I want and increase my health, energy and self-esteem.
- Don’t say: Quit your dead-end job. Instead say: Find a job that matches my skills, passions and financial goals.
- Don’t say: Stop putting off traveling.Instead say: Prepare the way for an incredible traveling adventure.
Putting a positive spin on the language you use can make you feel excited about tackling your goals. Such attitude will help you overcome hurdles and make you determined to reach your future accomplishments.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill
Whatever your goals are, studies show that the act of writing them down can have a significant impact on their outcome. Defining exactly what it is that you want, setting up the steps to get there and saying it all in a positive way are powerful steps to realizing your dreams. So, grab a pen and get started.