Almost every person has goals, objectives, or aspirations regarding their life paths. However, only a few get to realize them. This could be due to a lot of factors that may or may not be under an individual’s control. One particular factor that affects goal attainment is the way you summarize and review them.
Most people, probably due to faith in their memories, just visualize their dreams, making plans in their heads and trusting that things will turn out okay. Some are successful while others fall on their faces, depending on their commitment and dedication levels. But did you know that writing down your goals, whether on paper or your phone or computer, increases your chances of accomplishing them? A study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a renowned Dominican University psychology professor, showed that people who put their goals down in writing were42% more likely to succeed than those who didn’t. Why is this?
Gives You More Clarity
Writing down your goals and targets helps you view them more explicitly. As you think of what to write, you will be able to see your desires vividly in your mind and even see how life will be when you accomplish your goals. As you recollect your thoughts and put them on paper, you will get more clarity on not only your objectives, but also what you need to do to accomplish them.
In addition to that, your innate creativity may come into action and help you come up with other goals that you had not thought of before. For instance, when you put your desire to lose weight on paper, it might hit you that you need some exercise gear, gym money or even new cooking and eating habits. These can become additional goals by themselves or milestones towards meeting your weight loss goal. Whatever the case, your objectives will be clearer to you after writing them down.
Magnifies Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Reviewing your goals after writing them will give you an idea of your ability and preparedness to achieve them. Depending on the complexity of a goal, you might realize that you are not capable of doing it all by yourself and that you need expert help. You will also be able to adequately analyze the opportunities available and the resources at your disposal in a way that you wouldn’t be able to do in your head.
In the example given in the above section, you may want to lose weight, but don’t know anything about the best exercises and nutrition to follow. Once you write your plan down, it will be apparent to you that you need expert help, probably from a nutritionist or gym instructor.
Setting Benchmarks and Milestones
If you believe in dreaming big, chances are that your goals are big enough to take several months or even years. In such cases, tracking progress can be a real pain in the backside, and you may even lose hope and backtrack. On the flipside, jotting them down makes it easy to split them into actionable phases and organize them such that you allow enough time to accomplish each phase.
Breaking down your goals into smaller parts improves your attitude towards them as you start seeing them as smaller and, thus, more achievable rather than a big deal. Having written benchmarks and milestones also lets you know when you are behind schedule or even better, see your progress over a given period. For most people, achieving a milestone towards their goals is a huge morale booster and can bring about more determination to succeed.
Keeps You on the Right Track
Sometimes, as human beings, we make decisions or take actions that steer us from the paths we have set for ourselves. These can be anything from drinking excessively on work days to eating junk food every other day. But if you write down exactly what you want in life and put it in a place where you can see it every day, you will find it easy to avoid making unwise decisions.
For instance, putting printed sheets of your weight loss program on your fridge, wardrobe or phone wallpaper will ensure that you feel guilty every time you set out to buy some junk food or binge drink beer.
There’s a Psychological Benefit Too!
Your brain preserves knowledge and memories through a biological process called encoding. Basically, all of the things that you think about, see, or hear find their way to a part of the brain called the hippocampus. Here, the brain determines whether to commit them to short or long-term memory depending on how many senses were involved in creating the thoughts and your emotional connection.
Researchers have found that one can better remember things that are generated from their minds as opposed to what they see or read, a phenomenon they call the Generational Effect. Simply put, thinking about your dreams and ambitions and writing them down will make it easier to remember them in the future. The explanation for this is simple. When you engage your brain to come up with goals, you get a generational effect bonus.
When you go even further and put the goals down on paper, you will again engage your brain to come up with coherent sentences and plans that commit your thoughts to long-term memory. In essence, you will be able to remember more details of the things you note down which, in this context, will also keep you focused on working towards your goals.
Very few people get to actualize their dreams and ambitions. For the others, luck or fate is just not on their side. In most cases, however, it is a lack of planning that negatively affects one’s health or financial standing. Writing your goals down and detailing your strategies to attain them is one way to avoid disappointment and make yourself a better person. We hope that we have convinced you enough to pick up a pen and paper and put your dreams into words.
Author’s Bio: Charles is a career mentor, content coordinator for theessaywriter.net, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography and football. Find him on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook & Google+.