Why Writing Down Your Goals is Scientifically Better


by on July 25, 2014

Writing Goals Scientifically is Proven to get you better results

Why Writing Down Your Goals is Scientifically Better


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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