Writing down goals helps achieve them

Do you write down your goals regularly – or do you just keep them in your head and hope to at least remember them from time to time? As one study shows, thatmakes a BIG difference – especially with regard to whether you will achieve your own goals or not.

You can plan a lot and still achieve none. The reasons for this can be different. But it is much more important that you have goals and pursue them . “I know what I want!” This sentence alone, i.e. determination , extends life by a few years according to a Canadian study conducted by the psychologist Patrick Hill from Carleton University – regardless of what goals one has and how disciplined he or she is.

But the question still remains: how to achieve a goal successfully?

For her study, the psychologist Gail Matthews at Dominican University in San Rafael, California, initially recruited 267 test persons from different social classes and cultures, aged between 23 and 72 years.

Then she asked them to come up with a few goals they wanted to achieve in the next few weeks: increase their own performance, improve their salaries, finish a project, start a blog

Finally, she divided them into five groups :

  • The first group should verbally formulate and prioritize their goals .
  • The second group should set their goals in writing and prioritize them.
  • The third group was asked to only write down measures to achieve the goals .
  • The fourth group was asked to write down the goals and specific measures and tell a friend about them.
  • Finally, the fifth group should act like Group 4 and also record progress in writing .

Four weeks later, Gail Matthews looked at the results or the degree of success :

  • Those who only formulated their goals orally only achieved 43 percent , not even half. The participants from group 3 managed a little more (just write down measures), but not much.
  • Of those who wrote down their goals (group 2), they already achieved 60 percent. In group 4 it was even 64 percent – almost two thirds.
  • And those who also kept minutes (group 5) achieved a total of 76 percent of their goals.

The psychologist’s explanation was the following: Those who only think of their goals use their imagination alone – the right hemisphere of the brain , the imagination hemisphere of the brain, so to speak.

Credit: Entrepreneur

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On the other hand, those who write down their goals (prioritized) use both halves of the brain by adding a logical-analytical reality (paper, file) to them. The writing of the idea creates a kind of inner commitment: “I want this and I’m serious about it!” Motto: What is written is a fact .

Credit: Entrepreneur

Together, they send signals to our subconscious incessantly to work towards this goal. And, of course, even more so when we read the note with our goals again (which is why it is best to hang it in a clearly visible place – for example on the refrigerator door).

That is why you should note successes every day

Studies by the renowned Harvard psychologist Teresa Amabile and her colleague Steven Kramer also confirm that the additional noting and logging of successes and progress has an additional effect. For this purpose, the two evaluated more than 12,000 diary entries from 238 employees. Hard work but it was worth it.

In doing so, they soon realized: Those who did not write down the negative but rather jotted down the small successes, every day, were happier, more motivated and more successful in the long term .

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The reason: every success, even mini-successes, activate the reward center in the brain. Becoming aware of this, increases self-confidence , gives us strength and shows us what we have achieved and what we can do in the future.

Achieving goals: Use the SMART method

Last but not least, you can also use the so-called SMART method to formulate and achieve your goals. The focus here is on initially assessing your own goals as realistically as possible and then setting meaningful deadlines.

What does SMART goals stand for ? | Credit: Clockify

The SMART method was developed in 1956. SMART stands for :

  • Specific: Goals should be described as specifically as possible.
  • Measurable: Use measurable facts as a guide.
  • Attractive: Plan in such a way that you also feel like doing it.
  • Realistic: What you set out to do must of course also be feasible.
  • On time: That means planning the tasks in a timely manner. For example: I want to earn ten percent more by the end of the year.

For more information on setting SMART goals, you may refer to this page.


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