Pen to Paper

Goal Diggers: Pen to Paper

Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) might be the step you’re missing with your goals.  Number 4 in this series on Goals is all about writing it down, making a contract with yourself so to speak.  This can be really useful if you have an obliger tendency like me (see Gretchin Rubin’s 4 Tendencies quick quiz to see what your tendency is).  Mine means that I’m far more likely to keep commitments I make to other people, over myself.  It sucks a bit really.

If you missed them and goals is your thing right now – you can read the first, second and third in the series on these links.

We know that every important agreement or deal starts with a contract. We’re routinely counselled to “get it in writing” when we want to ensure that the terms are clear, not open for debate, and 100% official.

Goal-setting is an agreement you make with yourself to improve your life and achieve your vision. It’s only fitting that you put it in writing.

Describing your goals in written form gives them power and increases your chances of success. You set out exactly what you want to achieve, which acts like a homing device, guiding you from where you currently stand, to where you want to be.  And for me, it keeps me accountable.

Not only does this intuitively feel right and make sense, research backs it up: Writing down goals makes you more likely to achieve them.

Why is a Written Goal So Powerful?

Writing down goals helps to make sense of the ideas swirling around your mind – the dreams, vision, and hopes for your future. It provides clarity and direction. We are more likely to commit to a goal if we document it in writing.

 Five benefits of writing down your goals:
  1. It keeps you motivated

Seeing your goals in print, reviewing them daily, and setting out the next action step helps you stay focused and on track.

  1. It provides clarity

Recording and reviewing your goals helps you clarify where you are and where you want to be. It provides direction. It forces you to focus on the specific goals you’ve set for yourself and prioritise them over things, activities, and habits that aren’t as important.

  1. It narrows your focus

Writing down specific, measurable goals allows you to focus on the important things. It gives you a clear plan to follow in a world full of distractions and choice.

  1. It provides a time frame

Goals without a time frame are simply dreams. Writing down time-bound goals gives you something specific to work towards. Deadlines help you manage your time, take your goal seriously, and prioritise what’s important to you.

  1. It allows you to measure success

When you put it in writing, you now have something to shoot for and can recognise when you’ve achieved it. It gives you the opportunity to celebrate milestones and stay motivated.

Writing your goals down makes them tangible and real. It gives you the opportunity to describe your goals in detail, incorporating all the senses. It allows you to engage with your goals emotionally and intellectually.

Writing Goals That Inspire You

When you write down your goals, not only should you make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), you should make them dynamic and written in a way that will inspire you.

To write goals that inspire you, make them:


Goals should emphasise a positive outcome, not the thing you want to avoid. “I will increase sign-ups and sales of my online courses” instead of “I will no longer struggle to enrol people for my monthly courses.”


Goals are more motivating if you use the first person and relate the outcomes to yourself. “I am fulfilled and excited when I increase sign-ups and sales of my online courses” is better than “Readers sign up for my online courses.”

Keep it in the Present Tense

State your goal in the present tense. It demonstrates ongoing progress towards your ultimate goal instead of referring to a distant, murky future. “I am leading successful online courses that consistently sell out” versus “I will lead successful online courses…” One sounds like an affirmative statement, the other sounds like a vague hope.

Writing down your goals, in a way that’s uniquely suited to you, is an essential part of the planning process. Make a commitment to your success – put it in writing!

Everything Counts!

Written by Michelle McFadyen

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