Why Writing Down Your Goals is Scientifically Better

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by on July 25, 2014

Writing Goals Scientifically is Proven to get you better results

Why Writing Down Your Goals is Scientifically Better

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I really like writing out my goals, and was just recently making a very specific list of goals that are set about a month out.

As a designer I love making my goal-setting sheets visually appealing, but more importantly it’s best to make those goals particularly specific, and give them a date.

A recent study found that writing down your goals was scientifically proven to get better results

Not only is writing down goals important but a recent study demonstrated that writing goals, and sharing them with a friend is the most effective way to keep oneself on track with acheiving ones’ goals.

An abridged version of the results of that study:

Psychology professor Gail Matthews recruited 267 participants from a wide variety of businesses, organizations, and networking groups throughout the United States and overseas for a study on how goal achievement in the workplace is influenced by writing goals.

There were five groups in the study:

Group 1 was asked to simply think about the business-related goals they hoped to accomplish within a four-week block, and to rate them on difficulty etc. Groups 2-5 were asked to write their goals and then rate them on the same dimensions as given to Group 1. Group 3 was also asked to write action commitments for every goal. Group 4 had to both write goals and action commitments and also share these commitments with a friend. Group 5 went the furthest by doing all of the above plus sending a weekly progress report to a friend.

The individuals in Group 1 had accomplished 43 percent of their stated goals. Those in Group 4 had accomplished 64 percent of their stated goals, while those in Group 5 had accomplished an average of 76 percent of their goals.

Not only writing one’s goals down is important but sharing them with someone who has your back is too.

Why I personally find writing my goals down delightful

 

One – It opens me up for other things

If I get it out on paper, I don’t have to try to recall what my goals were all the time. Yes, they may be on the back-burner in my mind, but it frees my creative juices up to work on other things.

Two – It helps me say ‘no’ to things that don’t matter

If I’ve clarified that my goal is to create 3 hand-lettering masterpieces, exactly one month from today, I might be a little bit more clear and OK with turning down a brochure design. Can I do it? Yes. Do I have to say yes to every opportunity, if it’s not directly related to my goals I’ve clearly established? No. This way I have a bit more clarity on my personal values over the next span of time that I’ve set my goals for.

Three -Because I can get excited, and push myself a little bit more to get what I want

I’m not always on a sprint to learn and grow as much as I possibly can in a particular area. Sometimes I’m playing the technician role, working on websites or branding projects that make use of the knowledge I’ve gleaned from past work, study and application. But, when I set my sights on a higher level, written goal-setting can give me the added encouragement to push myself a bit higher. This way I can literally look at the goal I’ve set and use it as a beacon, and imagine myself accomplishing something exciting. When I do complete a goal, I can celebrate. Because it was clearly defined and a date was set, there’s no reason why I can’t give myself a pat on the back for a job well done. These are the reasons I can get excited about setting goals, writing them down, and sharing them with a friend.

Practical suggestions for goals

Write them down
Make them very specific
Break them down into actionable chunks
Share them with a friend
Make a commitment to give your friend weekly updates on your progress with the goals


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