Goal setting is a widely accepted and, more often than not, encouraged activity. Whether you use the SMART goal criteria, the “1, 5, 10 years from now…” breakdown, or simply tunnel vision one goal until you reach it and then move onto the next one, and so on – I’m here to suggest one simple, non-invasive, perhaps obvious addition to your process: write down your goal(s).

I don’t care if you write it on a post-it, on your calendar, on a vision board, in your journal, on your forehead, etc. Pick a place; any place; every place. It’s up to you. But it needs to happen. Why? I’m so glad you asked.

Writing down your goal forces you to be decisive. It leaves no room for being wishy-washy about what you want. There’s no back-and-forth once it’s on paper. Maybe there are several things that you debate about doing/not doing, and this process demands a decision. It’s easy to allow ourselves to be indecisive (just ask anyone with whom I’ve had the “I don’t know, what do YOU wanna watch?” conversation), but if we want to reach our goals it’s going to take a few brave, firm decisions to get there. Writing it down could be one of them.

Writing down your goal activates a necessary response in your brain. When you see your goal on paper it requires you to actually focus on it. This allows your brain to process more completely what you want, and how you can get it. It transforms it from a passing thought to the center of your concentration.  

Writing down your goal allows you to take ownership of it. Once you’ve penned it and committed it to your notebook, bulletin board, or whatever place(s) you’ve chosen to display it, it becomes yours. Not your coach’s, parent’s, child’s, friend’s, neighbor’s; yours. We, as human beings, automatically become more passionate about things that are ours. Things that we feel connected to and have a personal relationship with. Sometimes goals are easy to be driven towards, but other times we need to create that passion ourselves. This could be the first step in that process.

Writing down your goal makes it easier to remind yourself of it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set a goal (or, more accurately, thought of something I’d like to do), and then forgotten about it. When you have it written down it allows you to strategically display it. It becomes a cue when you see it and can prompt you to do/not do whatever it is that will carry you through to that goal.

Writing down your goal means a better chance of prioritizing it. Rather than having a goal that you think of every now and again, it becomes something that you’re serious about. Challenge yourself to shift your priorities in order to accomplish the goal. Let’s be honest: if it’s not important enough to take the time to write it down, there’s not a chance it’ll be a priority in your day to day life.

I know there are a lot of random goal setting tips out there –some of which have more merit than others– which is why I wanted this to be something simple and straightforward. No need to restructure your goals at the moment or throw out your goal setting routine; all I’m suggesting is to add this one crucial step if you don’t do it already. Trust me, future-you who has actually reached your goals will thank you.