Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Goals and how to reach them

Last week in my published devotion and corresponding blog posts I encouraged people to make rest a priority. And as means to that, to declutter their bedroom and treat it as an important space. As a sanctuary of sorts for body and soul. I heard from many - via blog comments, Facebook, emails and tweets - that they were going to do so. I wonder if they did.

In fact, it got me thinking about the purported link between writing down goals and achieving them. And between making a goal public, and then making it happen. Would telling me they were going to do something create an extra sense of motivation or accountability? What about commenting on FB versus just giving it a thumbs up "like"?

I've seen multiple references - even in published books - to a 1953 Yale University study proving a link between writing specific goals down, and future success. Sometimes it's claimed to be Harvard study rather than a Yale study. But the thing is, the study didn't take place  - at either university. It's a myth.

What isn't myth is a study done by Dr Gail Matthews at Dominican University that did find a strong correlation between writing down goals - actually spelling them out - and reaching them. I know when I write out my to-do list, I accomplish more than when I just hold the task list in my head. And I'm not really a list-writer type by nature. But is that true of big goals too, like opening a restaurant, or losing 50 lbs., or writing a novel?

What do you think?  Will writing down, "I will write a novel during NANOWRIMO 2010" actually help you start and complete a novel next month?

What if you don't write it down, you just talk to your friends about your plan to do it? Earlier today I came across this video clip about the effect of verbally telling someone your goal as opposed to keeping it to yourself or keeping it on paper. It's only a couple minutes long - check it out.

So, apparently, it is helpful to write goals down but not necessarily to tell someone about it.  I wonder if that is true of each of the 4 classic personality types.  Maybe it depends on who you tell?  Like if you tell your sister you want to drop 50 lbs, versus if you tell your local Jenny Craig consultant. What do you think?

Have you found writing down your goals to be effective in motivating you to achieve them?  What about telling people what you plan to do, has that usually helped or hindered you in achieving your goal? What works for you in real life when it comes to reaching your goals?


  1. i'm not much of a list maker but i do like to do what i say i'm going to do. i don't want to be hypocritical!

    But i understand what that guy is saying about sometimes talking about it stops us from really doing it b/c we move on to something else after talking about somethng thnking we're done with that for now.

  2. I've found if I write down a goal and keep it where I can see it I'm more likely to follow through. The same if I tell someone...then I feel obligated to follow through so they won't think I'm a slacker :-)

  3. Wow...that makes sense to me.

    I like to hang onto my dreams/goals.

  4. Hmmm, very interesting and thought provoking. I tend to not tell others my goals in order to shy away from accountability. If they don't know my goal, then who's to know if I don't achieve it? However, I do find that writing those goals and dreams down in a journal is most helpful. Words are powerful. Going back and reading my heartfelt expressions is most enlightening and can be a motivator in moving forward toward those goals and dreams. I'm going to continue to "chew" on this for a while. Thanks for sharing : )

  5. I am not a list maker. Although I do find that I write more things down than I did at one time....gotta love advancing age!

    Found the video very interesting. I know that if I share goals I am less likely to achieve them. Never knew there was a study done to prove it though =)

  6. Wow, that was good, I am "glad" I came across this while reading your other devotion. Thank you for posting this...I won't tell you what my goal is about it. :O)


Chime in.