The Transformational Power of Writing Down Your Goals

The difference between those who achieve great success in pursuit of their goals and those who wander aimlessly or stay stuck can be found in not only their goal-setting methods but also in their goal-getting habits.

A study carried out by Professor Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California showed the importance of goal-setting and the effect it has on the mindsets and accomplishments of those who set goals compared with those who do not. Participants of the study, a mix of male and female, were recruited from across different industries, different countries and their ages ranged between 23 and 72. They were split into five different groups as follows:

  • Group 1 – Asked not to write down any goals. Just think about what they wanted to accomplish in 4 weeks and rate their desired goals on Difficulty, Importance, Skills & Resources available, Commitment and Motivation, Prior Experience pursuing the goal and Prior Success, if any.
  • Group 2 – Asked to write down goals in an online survey and rate them in a similar manner as Group 1.
  • Group 3 – In addition to writing their goals down, this group was also asked to formulate a plan of action they were committed to.
  • Group 4 – Wrote down goals, formulated plans of action and sent both goals and plans of action to a supportive friend. This action was referred to as “public commitment.”
  • Group 5 – Wrote down goals, formulated plans of action, sent both goals and plans of action to a supportive friend and followed that up with weekly progress reports (accountability) prompted by email reminders.
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The results of the study showed that Group 5 (those accountable to someone supportive) achieved significantly more than all the other groups, Group 4 (those who made a public commitment) achieved significantly more than Groups 3 and 1. Group 2 (those who wrote their goals down) achieved significantly more than Group 1 (those who relied only on their memory and wrote nothing down) proving that…

  • Writing clear goals
  • Sharing your commitment to your success with trusted people (not everyone)
  • Committing to accountability

…all make a big difference to personal achievement.

What has your experience been with setting goals and achieving them?


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