Get the Goal Externalized: Why You Should Write Your Goals Down

Do you write down goals? You should.

A Goal is a Precise Statement of What it Means to "Win" at Some Activity

In The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman writes that a goal is a statement that clarifies precisely what you want to achieve.

Your goal might be:

  • To pay off your credit card debt
  • To run a 5K
  • To eat all the vegetables on your plate

Those are goals, because you know precisely what achievement looks like. And because you have defined precisely what achievement looks like, you will know when you "win."

If you state what you are trying to accomplish vaguely — "Have good finances," "Exercise," "Eat healthy" — those statements are not goals. You can't use them to measure when you "win."

You Need to Put Your Goals in Writing

You and I need to put our goals in writing.

This can be difficult. In the book Entreleadership, The finance coach Dave Ramsey says:

It sounds good to put your goal in writing, but almost no one does. And the correlation is clear: almost no one wins.

Even though it's difficult to write down goals, and even if not many people do write them down, we should still do it. 

Because when we write down our goals, we take advantage of the power of externalization.

Externalizing Goals (Writing Goals Down) Makes Them Motivating

Externalization just means that we put something "outside" our own mind. We write it down. We speak it out loud. (Josh Kaufman explains externalization in more detail if you're curious.)

Externalization is powerful, because speaking something out loud or writing it down makes it part of the environment — the actual concrete landscape of our lives.

And when something is actually there, outside of us, and not just in our head, it has power to make us act.

For example: The idea of ice cream is one thing; the ice cream in the fridge is quite another. When I'm watching TV, the idea of ice cream may not be powerful enough to get me to change my behavior (drive to the store). 

But if the ice cream is actually there, in my environment, it can affect my behavior powerfully (I pause the show, I get up from the couch, I scoop myself a bowl).

A Goal for My Wife and Me: Post on Just a Catholic Family Every Weekday

I am writing about the importance of writing goals down, because my wife and I have set a goal for ourselves and Just a Catholic Family:

We are going to publish a post every weekday for 1 month.

Alishia will publish on Tuesday and Thursday. Jamie will publish on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

If we publish posts Monday through Friday, we win. If we start slipping, we know what winning looks like, and we can make plans to set things right.

The goal guides us, moves us, motivate us.

Is this going to bring us fame or fortune?

Probably not. But small victories are still victories. And we will develop a good habit: reaching goals that we set.

Set a Goal For Yourself — And Write it Down!

Do you have a goal? 

Do yourself a favor: write it down.

WorkingJamie HansonComment