Gail and I are currently on a sabbatical. It has provided me with a great opportunity to review my goals and set new ones. As I have been doing so, I have realized once again, the incredible power of committing your goals to writing.
Here are just a few goals I have written down over the last three decades:
- Marry a godly Christian woman who is passionate about hospitality.
- Make $100,000 a year doing what I love.
- Lose 25 pounds and get in the best shape of my life.
- Complete a half marathon.
- Write a New York Times bestselling book.
- Become the CEO of Thomas Nelson.
Of course, most people don’t bother to write down their goals. Instead, they drift through life aimlessly, wondering why their life lacks purpose and significance. I am not saying that committing your goals to writing is the end-game. It’s not. But it is the beginning.
Here are five reasons you should commit your goals to writing:
- Because it will force you to clarify what you want. Imagine setting out on a trip with no particular destination in mind. How do you pack? What roads do you take? How do you know when you have arrived? Instead, you start by picking a destination. The same is true with the milestones in your life. Writing down your goals forces you to select something specific and decide what you want.
- Because it will motivate you to take action. Writing your goals down is only the beginning. Articulating your intention is important, but it is not enough. (This is where I disagree with Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret). You must execute on your goals. You have to take action. I have found that writing down my goals and reviewing them regularly provokes me to take the next most important action.
- Because it will provide a filter for other opportunities. The more successful you become, the more you will be deluged with opportunities. In fact, these new opportunities can quickly become distractions that pull you off course. The only antidote I know of is to maintain a list of written goals by which to evaluate these new opportunities.
- Because it will help you overcome resistance. Every meaningful intention, dream, or goal encounters resistance. From the moment you set a goal, you will begin to feel it. But if you focus on the resistance, it will only get stronger. The only way I have found for overcoming it, is to focus on the goal—the thing I want. Steven Pressfield’s new book, Do the Work, is must-reading on this topic.
- Because it will enable you to see—and celebrate—your progress. Life is hard. It is particularly difficult when you aren’t seeing progress. You feel like you are working yourself to death, going nowhere. But written goals are like mile-markers on a highway. They enable you to see how far you have come and how far you need to go. They also provide an opportunity for celebration when you attain them.
Writing your goals down doesn’t take that long. Don’t over-think the process. Just get something on paper and refine it as you go. I think you will find that the benefits are well-worth the effort.