I truly enjoyed my years of teaching, and if the right opportunity ever comes along again I would likely seize it. I taught courses in career development for several years, helping students gain career clarity, learn about the world of work and how to maximize their potential within it.
One class in particular that I made a serious effort to highlight was an entire class on goal setting.
When my students would hear the words “goal setting” they would exhale immediately and give off the vibe that they were not enthused. However, by the end of the class I had usually won them over and I had several students tell me it was the most useful class of the semester. This was because they could tell that I don’t provide generic tips and “go by the book,” but I also practice and preach the goal setting techniques that are proven to be effective.
I think individuals at any stage of their career understand the need to have and update goals. Goals help us dream big and shoot for the stars. They help keep us focused on the bigger picture and larger mission. They inspire and motivate us when they’re really speaking to our deep desires. Creating goals can be exciting and help us begin to visualize the potential of the word “if.”
Goals are the critical first step to advancement in any stage of our lives.
However, we have to step back and consider why statistics continue to show that the vast majority of individuals who set goals fail to achieve them. The fact is, several reasons can be determining factors to how successful we are in our goal attainment including relevance, time investment, resources, and any number of other combinations of factors.
In all my experience one single action leads to a higher likelihood of goal attainment: Writing it down.
On a psychological level, when the goal moves from our head to paper it transitions from theory to practicality. More importantly, we begin to make that important shift from “if” to “WHEN.”
Goals that just swim around in our head can be inspiring – but lack the power to move us forward the way seeing them in front of us can. When goals become kinesthetic in creation and tangible in customization can we truly move to action.
As I have told countless students and clients that I have worked with over the years, writing down your goals symbolically creates a contract to yourself. Your goals are no longer theory once they’re written down. They are commitments that you’re more likely to remember, act on, and follow through with.
Studies consistently point to the fact that the act of writing helps you not only remember the content but even makes an emotional connection to the content. Not surprisingly, research shows the simple act of writing down goals leads to a 42% increase in attainment.
Additionally, writing down goals can create an accountability system with both yourself and others. I often tell people that if you want to greatly increase the odds of accomplishing goals, make sure you write them down where others can see them as well. For example, posting a goal through a social media channel can serve as a declaration of your impending success.
When formulating your goals, it’s important that they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.
You’re much more likely to accomplish what you set out to do if your goals are important to you personally, stated clearly and have a deadline. However, if you want to truly achieve great things you have to write them down, place them strategically where you will see them often and update them consistently. This will start the chain of events that shift the “if” to WHEN.
I’ll leave you, for now, with one of my favorite quotes from author Michael Korda:
WHEN Career Advisor®