Dreaming big and having meaningful goals is a key part of human nature. It follows that planning how you will achieve your goals is an important activity—something that needs to be done to the best of your ability for you to maximize the chances of success.
Whilst many people love making a plan—or at least appreciate the value of planning—far fewer are disciplined enough to stay the course no matter what difficulties they encounter.
Many of those who can visualise themselves doing something will experience challenges, and the first sign of trouble can be enough for them to give up in their tracks.
Similarly, many people who make a plan do not have the patience to see it through, bailing out when results aren't immediate. There's one thing, however, that many fail to do and which sets them up for a fall before they even start out: that is, neglecting to write down their goals.
Putting your hopes and dreams in ink is the vital first step to achieving them. Though the amount of time needed to reach the place you wish to be might run to years, it has been proven that writing down goals on a good old-fashioned piece of paper greatly aids focus and making helpful choices at conscious and subconscious levels.
At the moment you think of a goal, you are essentially imagining a scenario. Like dreams, such imaginings and fancies have a very short stay in your brain—and, like memories of dreams, fade quickly. By writing down your goals, you will be more purposeful with your actions, figuring out the concrete steps necessary to turn something imagined into something real.
Perhaps the most important advantage of writing down your goals is the clear sense of progress you will feel as you work towards them. In addition to setting down the goal, it's a good idea to be specific about when you wish to achieve it, and the effort that will be required to do so.
As you then meet your milestones, the sense of progress will further fill you with motivation, without which you might not be able to push all the way through. Here we encounter the main benefit—one that will help you stay focused no matter what challenges you face on the way to achieving your dreams.
Almost every day we deal with problems of some kind. The severity of the problems determines the amount of focus time we get for ourselves. Most of the goals we set require a long-term effort. The day-to-day matters and distractions that come our way, however, might mean that we do not concentrate on achieving these long-term goals as thoroughly as we should.
For this reason, writing our goals on paper and keeping them in a place where we can easily notice them serves as a continuous reminder to our brain, even when we are not consciously taking some action in the present moment.
We are also encouraged, when time is available, to set aside lower-priority tasks and spend extra time on tasks relating to long-term goals. Keeping the goals in a place that you frequently notice and where they are always with you will feed your subconscious mind and serve as a prompt that will help you to persevere.
So how about finally getting those goals written down, putting them in an envelope, and keeping them under your pillow? Sleep on them every night and remind yourself of them every morning.
And, each time ask yourself, "What does 'good' look like?"—that is, what do you need to do today towards meeting your goals? In this way, we can contemplate a future that's in our own hands.