Monday, June 18, 2012

Why You Want to Write Down Your Goals

I never cease to be surprised by how much I get done when I write down what I need or want to do.

This is true of an errands or shopping list, or a daily to-do list.

It's also true of five-year plans and life goals.

Writing something down seems to convince my brain I'm serious about doing this so get on-board with it. It also has a way of moving things from the back-burner of my subconscious mind to the forefront of my active mind.  So not only do I not forget about it, but I move toward accomplishing it.

At times all it takes is writing it down.

For those (3) of you interested in science and the brain, here's how that works:

The bottom of the brain stem contains a group of cells called the Reticular Activating System.  Their job is sorting through the data incoming to your brain. It's main task is to send the urgent stuff to the active part of your brain, and send the non-urgent stuff to the subconscious. (This is what allows us moms to sleep through every little noise in the night except the whimper of our child down the hall.)  Essentially, when you write something down - succinctly and with intention - you plug it into your Reticular Activating System. Then your brain starts to pay attention to that thing, labeling it "active status" and increasing the odds that you'll accomplish it.

If you skipped the slightly scientific section above, just know that writing is a way of directing your brain to pay attention to something until it is accomplished. All it takes is a couple of minutes, a piece of paper and a pen.

So, what is it you are wanting or needing to do?  Go write it down!


  1. Great to know and good encouragement to follow through. I'm passing this on to my students!

    1. A teacher myself, I'm always thrilled to help students excel.

  2. Does this mean I have to actually "write it down" or does typing it into a to do list do the same thing? I just know that with memories there have been some distinctions made between the written word and typing. I just didn't know if there was a distinction here as well.

    1. I'll have to research that and let you know. I have a feeling writing may be slightly more effective than typing (for experinced typers) because it takes longer to write out. But maybe not.

      Great question! ... stay tuned for the answer.

  3. I write tasks on post-it's. Then I prioritize them in a to-do column. As I make progress, the task can move to in-progress and then move to the done column.

    1. Impressive system, Teresa. I like this method.

      A lot of people like crossing things off on their to do lists. I don't. Not because I don't like getting things done or seeing my progress, but because then it looks messy. :)

      Using your post-its idea I could throw each one away once done and see my list shrink in length. Brillant. Though it might cost me a small fortune in post-its!

  4. AnonymousJune 19, 2012

    Gee whiz, I can so totally agree!
    I write everything down too. It keeps me focused!


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