Any time I have ever asked, people agree that having written goals is important. However, those same people rarely ever write down their goals. Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California found that writing goals down was indeed helpful. You can read more about Dr. Matthews’ work here.
So, we believe that writing goals down is helpful and research actually agrees that it is. Why do we not actually do it? What is the problem? Here are some reasons I believe we don’t write down our goals as well as responses to those reasons.
1. We don’t actually set goals
Here’s a brilliant thought – you cannot write any goals on paper you haven’t actually developed. Okay, not so brilliant. It is, nonetheless, true. Most of us go through our day-to-day lives without significant goals. We get up and our goal is to make it home and go to bed after we throw some things in the middle.
Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” We fail to set goals and then wake up 6 months, a year, 5 years later wondering why we’re not farther along in our lives. We didn’t have a plan to be anywhere. We aimed at nothing and that’s what we hit. Before you can write goals down, we have to set some! Get busy!
2. It takes time
We say we believe writing down goals is important or helpful. However, it isn’t important enough to actually do it. It does take time. But it’s sort of like some people’s view of getting the oil changed – we’ll get to it…someday…
Back to Dr. Matthews’ research – if writing goals down and regularly reviewing them helps us to achieve them, then it is worth the time.
If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
~ Zig Ziglar ~
3. It creates expectations
Writing down goals does create expectations. However, this is a great thing! When I expect myself to do something or achieve something, that expectation calls me to action. I can actually see a path to get on. This part also calls me out on things I’m doing that aren’t pushing me closer to my goals.
If we have written goals, we have a bit of a contract with ourselves. Written goals force us to evaluate ourselves and our activities. If I have expectations to meet a goal, then I have to examine what I’m doing right now and determine whether or not I need to change.
4. We don’t REALLY believe there is value in writing down goals
Okay, this is the truth for a lot of us. We walk around with the idea, “I kind of know where I want to be and I’m sort of heading toward that.” Think about the last vacation you took. How much of the reservations, transportation, and all other things did you leave to chance? None of it. We booked everything in advance. We checked reservations multiple times to make sure we didn’t miss something.
We spend more time planning our vacations than we do planning to have a successful, fulfilled life. Setting goals is a way to plan your life. Spend more time planning your life than you do planning vacation!
We’ll spend some more time writing about goal-setting this week…
Do you have written goals? Why or why not? Feel free to leave your comments. We would love to hear from you.