Why You Need to Write Down Your Goals and Dreams
Henry David Thoreau said it best: "If one advances confidently in the direction of their dreams, and endeavors to live the life which they’ve imagined, they’ll meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” It was true in the mid-1800s and remains true today. Getting serious about your dreams is as simple as writing down your goals — that act alone can really help to bring your dreams alive.
There’s a lot of science that helps to back up Thoreau’s big philosophical idea. SMART goals are proven to help realize your potential, and it’s a well-documented system that gets tangible results. The process has been around since the 1950s. SMART helps to identify a pathway toward your dreams with Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (or SMART) objectives.
How SMART Goal Setting Works
Whether you’ve just begun to explore a new dream or have been pursuing a lifelong passion for some time now, it’s always a great idea to put your goals into writing. Designating a notebook and putting pen to paper can be a really powerful thing.
And, although it may seem like an elementary concept, it’s a truly helpful tool when it comes to actually achieving what you set out to accomplish. With actionable and descriptive ways of building out your dreams, you’ll move towards your goals with more than just a whim to guide you. You’ll be able to fine-tune your objectives and describe them in detail — both of which help your dreams to take shape and eventually, take flight.
Here are just some of the ways actually writing down your SMART goals can help make a big impact.
Be specific with your dreams
Visualize the end goal of the dream you’ve been contemplating and clearly write it down in black and white. You’ll do more with this simple step than you realize. Put a plan into motion for making things happen by drilling into detail on what you want. On the opposite page, draw a picture of your goal.
The more you can build out your goal, the better your odds of understanding what it’s going to take to make it happen.
Measurable results work keep you on trackbest
A lot of us have big-picture dreams laid out in our minds, and while it’s great to dream big, it can be a bit difficult to put those kind of goals into action. In addition to helping clarify your dreams, you’ll set benchmarks — or short-term goals — that you’ll achieve along when working towards measurable results.
So, no matter how clear of a vision you think you have, write it down and start to flesh out the details of what this dream means to you. Write out those milestones along the way, and describe how you’ll actually achieve each part of your dream. Seeing all those details written out can help you decide exactly where to begin and if this is truly the path you want to follow.
Achievable is a key factor
Now that you’ve laid out where you want to go and how you want to get there, use that notebook to track your forward progress. As much as you’ve put words around how you intend to make your dreams a reality, describe the process of how you’re actually doing it now. Getting those the details down on paper will help you to understand what worked best for you as you move forward.
Realistic expectations sharpen focus
It’s easy to shoot for the moon when you’re dreaming about what you want and where you want to be. The truth is, you’ve got to ground your dreams in reality. This doesn’t mean you can’t dream big, but it may mean you’ll need to temper your objectives with a healthy dose of realism. You know what you’re capable of, and better — you know how far you can go if you push a little harder.
One way to stay on-target is to keep your dreams in front of you. Writing down your dream and displaying it somewhere you’ll see it every day — like taped to your fridge or tacked up next to your desk — will help you keep your goals top-of-mind. It’s a great way to stay motivated and advance confidently towards what you’ve set out to do. No excuses!
Time-bound deadlines really work
Be sure to include a due date onto those notes you’re taping up around your home. You’ll find the reminders mean more when you’re holding yourself accountable to getting that hard work done. Soon, you’ll see the fruits of your labor start to emerge.
And when they do, be sure to celebrate these incremental victories. If you’re up for it, share your progress on social media. Friends and acquaintances can be a real motivator to help you keep your dreams on track.
Make a space on a wall or your fridge for these accomplishments as they graduate from goals to reality. You’ll find momentum and new capacity with this tactic, and it can help to accelerate your progress and focus your determination. Best of all, you’ll find that you really can make things happen.
Document How You Made it Happen
It’s always good to follow up and record your thoughts on the entire goal-setting process afterwards. Dig into the way you worked: your milestones, your setbacks, your new ideas and the way your process may have shifted overall, as you moved towards your goals.
Documenting your experiences along the way will allow you to keep track of your progress and enable you to better understand what worked and what didn’t for you. And most importantly, you’ll understand why things worked.
So, allow your ideas to begin flowing and take that first step in your dream pursuit — all it takes is a pen, some paper and a little dose of passion. Here’s to Dreaming Fearlessly!