Do You Really Have to Write Down Your Goals?

goal settingDo you really have to write down your goals?

I have two answers to that question:  Yes and no though I personally believe that every goal should be written down in one format or another.  Some people, however, are really, really good at keeping things in their head and following through – short term.

How do you know if you should write down a goal or not?

It’s very simple.  Is your goal a short-term goal?  What I mean by short term is a week or a month.  Short goals are generally urgent.  For instance, you have want to get a good mark in a course and need to do well on a paper which is due at the end of the month.  Or you need to have a report done by the end of the week for your boss – the deadline is set and there are no alternatives.

These are still goals, albeit short-term and related to an activity already underway such as passing a course or holding down a job.

Most of these goals can be added to your schedule for a short duration and, for those people who keep a running tally in their heads, well, these goals won’t take up too much space!

However, for long-term goals, that is, those goals which will take you a little longer than a week or a month, yes, it is very important that you do write it down.  The steps will become part of your schedule for a very long time to come.  It’s so easy to forget what your original intention was and get sidetracked.

What most people do not realize is that goal achievement is a process.  It’s not just a matter of deciding what they are, writing them down, putting a deadline on achieving them and that’s it.  If only it were that simple!

Process takes time.   Goals consists of things you’ve never achieved before.  You really don’t have a road map and need to build one as you go.  It takes time to research, talk to people, try things out, etc. And you’ll be encountering a lot of dead ends, detours, road blocks, ditches, washouts, treacherous conditions, and other factors as you travel down the road towards your goal.

I do not believe you can plan goals effectively in your head.  It’s so very important that goals and the achievement process are written down.

What do you write and how much?

You need all the standard stuff:  deadline, a way to measure it, a way of determining whether it is attainable or not, whether it is a reasonable goal for you, a complete description of what it will look like when you attain it,  whether or not it’s relevant to your life, how you feel when you do achieve it, why you want it and whether or not the goal is actually a goal you want or someone else wants you to achieve.

My favorite way to do this is as follows:

–  write like mad – one, two, fifteen – how ever many pages you want – in handwritten form or on the computer – whatever way you prefer

–  boil it all down to 60 words or less making sure you have all the key points in there

Why do I like this method so much?  Because by the time you have boiled the “dream” down to 60 words, you’ll really understand the goal and what you want to achieve.  You’ll “see” it in your mind’s eye.  One of two things will happen:

a)  you’ll decide you really want this goal


b)  it was a silly goal or something you really didn’t want after all and toss it –

either way, you’ve won.  If you want it, you’ll have the determination to see it through.  If you’ve decided against pursuing that goal, you will have saved yourself a lot of time, money and energy you can use elsewhere.

What next?

As I said before, it’s a process.  And processes require multiple steps.  It’s not always clear what the steps should be.

Also, as you move along towards your goal, you’ll discover that you’ll change your mind.  You’ll tweak some of the details or you’ll discover information which makes you rethink exactly what you want.   The more you work on your goal, the more precise your description will become.

If you have downloaded my free goal achievement system, I talk about the steps and how to keep building as you go along until you reach your goal.

Most importantly, when you reach it, you’ll know you’re there! Why?  Because you wrote it down!  You won’t have to wonder, “Is this what I wanted?” – you’ll know because you’ve worked with it throughout the adventure!

So, yes, I do believe it is critical to write down your goals, the steps, the planning, the changes, the “evolution” – it’s so much more fun when you can see it in writing and look back at what you did to get there.   What you have learned will serve you well achieving the next goal and the next.

If you would like the free tool I offer for achieving your goals, please visit my blog at

Lorraine Arams

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