Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great start to the new year. In the last few blog posts, I’ve been talking about setting and achieving your goals. We’ve talked about setting goals that are in line with your highest values and vision for your life. We’ve also talked about taking the smallest step that you can take in the moment in order to work towards your goals. There is, however, another important element of setting and achieving goals. This is to write them down.
I divide goal setting into these following categories: Health and fitness, relationships and emotional fulfilment, spiritual life, career or business, finances, fun and leisure and contribution. Not only must you write down the goals that you want to achieve in each of these areas but you must also write down the reasons why you absolutely must achieve these goals and a plan to achieving these goals.
Studies show that those who write out their goals have a higher likelihood of achieving them than those who do not. This is because the act of writing out your goals makes them real in your mind as opposed to an abstraction when you are simply just thinking about them. Looking at your written goals on a daily basis also creates a reminder that you need to start to do something about them as opposed to when they are abstract mental constructs. Thoughts about your goals can be placed on the back burner when life becomes busy and other things take immediate priority, which is bound to happen.
By writing out the reasons why you must absolutely achieve these goals, this creates a mental urgency that increases the likelihood that you will start taking action towards your goals. By creating a step-by-step plan to achieving your goals, you give yourself a roadmap to follow. This does not mean that there will not be any detours along the way and your plan won’t need any course correction. The important thing is that you have an initial starting point and a detailed plan that you can follow.
The more detailed you can make your plan, the more likely you will be able to follow the steps you need to reach the goals you have set for yourself. The most important aspect of your detailed plan is knowing the very next smallest step you must take to work towards your goals. Even if you do not yet know the steps you must take further on, you must have some idea of the very next smallest step you need to take.
As you take the very next smallest step towards your goal, it is highly likely that the subsequent step will be revealed to you and become clear. Once the subsequent step becomes clear you need to write it down. The important thing is to take the very next step, even if you do not now what the subsequent step should be. You must always keep in mind that it is not only the destination that matters but the journey you take to reach that destination.
If you think about anything that you have achieved in your life, you will find that the path was not always necessarily defined and that you may have had to make adjustments along the way. An example of this from my own life is how I came to become a published author. I set out to write my book several years ago but had no guarantee that I would find a publisher. After I had completed and had my initial manuscript proofread, I set out on the journey to find a publisher which was anything but a straight path with a lot of course correction along the way.
In summary, to increase the likelihood of achieving success in the pursuit of your highest goals in all areas of your life, you must write them down, write down the reasons why you absolutely must achieve them and write down a detailed plan or road map to reaching these goals. The most important aspect of your written plan is the very next smallest step you must take on your journey to achieve your goals which will reveal to you subsequent steps even if they are not readily apparent when you start off on your path to achievement.
Nauman Naeem MD FCCP FRCPC