The Secret to Achieving Big Goals? Writing Things Down

Why winners plan and write things down constantly.
man's hand holding pen writing things down

It might seem simple, but writing things down really is the first step to success. Until you write your specific goals down, you can’t move on to the next step of what you’ll do to get those specific goals done. The world is full of people who work hard but never get anything big done, and one of the biggest reasons for this lack of success is that they aren’t sure of exactly what they want to do. That’s why writing things down is so important. 

Writing things down forces you to make a decision to commit to your goals. Most people never actually make this commitment, and they never achieve the things they hope to do.

The Enemy is Doubt

impossible says I'm Possible

Have you noticed that so many people go through life with unfulfilled hopes and dreams?

They see other people winning, and they want to win, too. They want more for themselves and for their families, and deep down, they feel like they are capable of more. But they are living in doubt.

‘I’ve thought about opening my own business.’
‘I’d love to lose some weight.’
‘I wish I made more money, so I could afford a better life for my kids.’ 

Whenever these ideas pop into their heads, they immediately get pushed to the side by doubt.

‘What if I’m not good enough?’
‘What if things go wrong?’
‘What if I run out of money?’
‘What if I don’t have enough time?’
‘What if I get fired?’
‘What if my key people let me down?’
‘What if the economy goes bad?’
‘What if there’s too much competition?’
‘What if my dream is unrealistic?’

Everyone has doubts. It’s human nature. They can actually be a good thing if you don’t let them overwhelm you; doubts keep you on your toes. They keep you working and doing extra to make sure you get the job done. 

But doubt has a way of shutting people down before they even get started—before they know if it’s possible, before they know if it’s worth it. 

These people are stuck in intention mode, beating themselves up mentally for procrastinating and wasting their energy on frustration because they aren’t going anywhere. They become more and more convinced they just aren’t capable, when the reality is, they just never got started and gave themselves a chance. 

No one knows the future, but you can’t win in life if you’re so paralyzed by fear that you neglect to write down specific goals and start achieving them. 

Don’t let that be you. 

Vague Goals Guarantee Failure

Specific goals set you up for success.

Vague goals guarantee failure. Specific goals set you up for success. Click To Tweet

If you don’t commit to something specific, it will be easier to wander off and work on something else. In order to make any real progress, you have to get specific about what you really want and start writing things down. 

Man with suitcase unsure where to goSay you want to go on a nice family vacation. 

You’ve thought about Disney, but you’re worried it’s too expensive. The beach sounds nice, but you’ve heard it’s crowded this time of year. You’ve always liked the mountains, but the drive might be too long for the kids. 

What are you going to do? Where are you going to go? 

You can arrange to be off work, pack up the car, and even make it to the highway, but until you decide on a destination, you aren’t going to get very far. 

When doubt shuts us down, our goals remain general, vague, and undefined. We never decide what we want. As a result, we doom ourselves to failure, because we never get specific enough to take the next step and get started. 

Millions of people live like this—with unfulfilled hopes and dreams—and the problem is they are miserable, and they don’t have to be. 

Why Winners Write Things Down

According to a study done by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California, you are 62% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down and sharing them with a friend. The study showed the importance of writing things down as well as the importance of commitment and accountability. 

You are 62% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. Click To Tweet

Writing things down makes them real and sends a signal to your brain that you’re serious about making them happen. As soon as you get specific and write down your goals, your mind will immediately go to work figuring out what steps you need to take and how to overcome the hurdles you will likely face.

When you know exactly what your goal is, your time frame for making it happen, and your plan for getting started, there’s no more guesswork—you become more focused, and you start actually making progress. 

You get excited and start talking to people about what you’re doing. They help hold you accountable and get excited about helping you.

Writing things down even gives you a productivity burst and reduces mental clutter. You can read more about that in my post How to Become More Productive: The First Thing Winners Do.

Even if you don’t immediately turn into an inspirational activity ball of fire, at least you are free to move on from the thinking stage to the doing stage, and the effort you put in will now be focused on the most important things at this point in your life.

Write Down Your Goals

Sooner is better than later, and waiting is not doing you any good. Clear out some time and start writing down your own goals as fast as possible. Get clear about what’s important to you and come up with a plan for making it happen. 

This is not the time to be timid. Don’t make excuses.

Even if your mind fills with doubt, write down your goals anyway. Take your best guess.

Be bold and unapologetic. Lock in on something that makes sense, makes you stretch, and gets you excited! 

Things to Write Down: 

Write down your long-term goals. Where do you want to end up? What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years? How about the next 10 years, the next 20 years? What are you always thinking about doing? What gets you excited? What do you wish you were doing with your time right now? 

Write down your short-term goals. What achievable milestones can you give yourself to accomplish what you want? What can you do today, this week, this month that will get you closer to your long-term goals? 

Pen writing things down on calendar and marking deadlinesMake sure you give yourself deadlines for your goals. Come up with a simple plan for making them happen—list out what you are going to do first, second, third, who you need to talk to, and what you need to find out. 

Share your goals with people you trust so they can hold you accountable, and find people who want to provide support and help you reach your goals. 

Excitement > Activity > Confidence > Success 

At this stage, you should feel excited about where you’re headed. 

Your excitement drives activity. Activity gives you confidence. Confidence gets you more excited. And soon, your activity turns into success.

Excitement drives activity. Activity gives you confidence. Confidence gets you more excited. Click To Tweet

You become someone who is knowledgeable, experienced, and effective. You become someone who can get things done: a winner.

Proof Setting Specific Goals Works

Three darts in a bulls-eye representing achieving your goals
If you need proof, take a look at how billionaire Art Williams used specific goals in his life.

Long before he was a billionaire, he started out as a high school football coach with a very low income and a wife and two young kids to support. 

He had a lot of part-time jobs. He sold Christmas trees just to afford Christmas presents each year. In the summers, he was a lifeguard. During the school year, he would run up and down the basketball court as a referee, making $3/game for three games per night. That’s over three hours of running just to make $9.

When he started out on his new career, he set a specific goal. He decided to save everything he could and build up a nest egg. He targeted $300,000 as his goal because, at that point, he figured he could replace his total income as a teacher and coach (with 10% interest—this was the early ’70s), and he could be financially independent.

His goal was specific. It was unapologetic. It was bold. 

That goal got him focused and moving forward. It gave him the mental toughness to overcome the setbacks along the way, the daily disappointments that crush you and cause most people to become discouraged and quit. His personal first “goal of greatness” kept him moving.

Need more proof? I did it.

When I started my new expansion office in North Carolina, I started as all new businesses do—broke and drowning in expenses. I also had a wife and two young boys who liked to eat. I had to do something quickly.

All alone in my office those first few days, I set my eyes on goals of 200 recruits and $100,000 in income. Then I locked in on my game plan and personal activity. I detail exactly how I did this in a YouTube video on the Weidel Academy channel called The Activity Jar.

I only got halfway to both goals, but that was a whole lot better than nothing. The next year, I simplified my goals to one goal—recruiting. I didn’t get my 200 recruits the first year, but I got the experience and knowledge on how to get a lot more. 

The second year, we recruited 1,800, and the year after that, 7,200, and we never looked back.

Growth is a process. Eight years later, in 1988, my income went over $1 million per year. And it all came from setting one goal, writing it down, and going for it.

Now It’s Your Turn

Write down your goals, commit to making them happen, and give yourself a chance to do great things.

The trick, though, is to keep setting and resetting your goals and writing them down. Just like a CEO makes projections and announces them every quarter, you have to periodically set time aside to re-evaluate and rewrite your goals. Circumstances change, and you need to know where you’re headed and what you’re working towards at all times.

Write down your goals, commit to making them happen, and give yourself a chance to do great things. Click To Tweet

What are your big goals and what are you going to do to make them happen? Let me know in the comments below. 

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