It seems like a silly exercise at first.
Of course, you know that your goal is to be successful. However, what does success actually mean? Most people don’t know how to set goals. Less than half of today’s corporate workers could answer that question with what their specific personal and professional goals are. Try it for yourself. Write down five specific goals you wish to accomplish over the next month. Then write down five goals you wish to accomplish over the next year. What about what you plan to accomplish over the next five years? Do all your goals align with one another?
It is one thing to have goals and another thing to write them down. Setting goals down in writing makes them real. The pen to paper gives substance to what are otherwise just hopes and dreams. What is it about written goal setting that is so important?
Writing down your goals helps you to identify what you really want.
Really, everyone should write down his or her goals. However, it is especially important for the corporate worker who does not have the same typical sources of motivation as the average blue collar American. Things like a linear career path with tangible milestones such as promotions and pay raises just do not exist in the blue-collar world where many get stuck working in obscurity under the upper echelon of management. The corporate worker must create goals to assist them in moving forward towards career-based milestones.
It probably feels strange at first to think that the sky is the limit. However, as a corporate worker, you have more freedom and control over your goals and the direction of your career than you might think. Corporate America is a vastly large collection of multi-billion dollar companies. You do not have to stay with your current company to accomplish your goals. Though you should remain practical in your goal setting, your goals should ultimately be the greatest you could envision yourself achieving in the specified time period. Writing down your goals allows you to identify the milestones you wish to reach in your corporate journey.
Writing down your goals forces you to envision your success.
Remember, that you can define success many different ways. Let’s take a freelance writer as one example. Success may be based on a number of things for this one person, even if we are just speaking with regard to writing. He or she may have personal development goals such as expanding into different genres or improving his or her creative writing. She may have relationship goals such as developing contacts within the industry. She may also have income goals.
Regardless of what your goals are, putting them down on paper forces you to envision what success means to you and flesh out the details of what that success entails. Reaching your goals is about completing the action required to accomplish them. Writing down your goals allows you to envision what the finished product of your goals will be.
Writing down your goals makes you think them through.
Asking yourself how to get from where you are at the present time to where you would like to be, forces you to envision all the steps to success. Doing so has the beneficial effect of turning your long-term goal into several short-term goals.
For instance, if you are in sales and you want to hit a certain revenue goal for the following year then you must ask questions like “How many clients will I need to retain to make my goal?” From there you need to devise ways to make contact with and retain more clients. Naturally, you will derive your monthly, weekly, and daily goals from that one revenue goal.
At this point, you will have a logical plan that you can present to others for feedback and refinement. Writing down your goals assists you in visualizing the required action steps to accomplish them.
Writing down your goals helps you focus on what is important.
One trait that is common amongst successful corporate workers is a knack to think outside the box and come up with creative ideas. This ability is both a gift and a curse. Many fresh ideas can lead to innovation. Unfortunately, it can also lead to a lack of follow through.
As people, we tend to get excited by the next big thing. New ideas are exciting, but if we let them distract us from the important and more practical goals that we have set for ourselves, then they can actually hurt our productivity. By writing down our goals, we are forced to focus on the matter at hand and shelve the next big thing until it can be seamlessly weaved into our plan. When we write down our goals, we are able to see how each goal fits into the bigger picture and we can prioritize our actions based on that larger snapshot of what is actually going on at the time.
Writing down your goals provides you with a purpose.
Lastly, and most importantly, writing down your goals gives you a reason to get up every day. The minutiae of your daily life can get you into a rut when you stop seeing the forest for the trees. Connecting your long-term goals to your every day routine puts everything into perspective and gives that routine purpose. Without purpose, work is typically an unrewarding and boring exercise, and you will simply be working for a paycheck. However, when you frame it in the context of the pursuit of happiness, even the most unpleasant task will be given the appropriate amount of attention and care.
When you decide to put it all on paper — so to speak — you open up the possibilities of personal success and satisfaction. Taking the toil out of the 9-to-5 and adding peace of mind with a sense of purpose. You can be successful without writing down your goals, but your journey will make more sense if you put them all on paper.
(Image courtesy of popofatticus under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution generic license.)