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Is it Goal Setting or Goal Writing?

The Power of the Written Word...

Is it goal setting or goal writing? 

Do something different with those resolutions. Write them down! 

So, let’s not only make New Year’s resolutions and/or set new goals for the year, but write them down.  Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?  The reality is that only about 2% of the people in the world have written goals.  I’d like to challenge you to be part of the 2%.

How many New Years resolutions have we made and lamented a few months later? The challenge is, and has always seemed to be, to get the goals to actually work. 

Goal setting has a very important component that is missed by many.  And it is very simple.  That component is to write the goals down.  And secondary to that is to have them at your finger tips, not in a drawer somewhere.  Just like budgets don’t work unless they are reviewed and monitored, goals need to be a working instrument.  You need to review them, adjust them, and work them into your monthly, weekly and daily task lists.

This is the time of year that many people review their accomplishments from the last year, and set out to establish goals for the New Year. This can be a fun process and something that can add excitement and reward to your life.

Those of us on Nantucket have happily survived Stroll, home for the holidays, and the December 24 Red Ticket drawing--we're now in a great place to hunker down for the beginning of an awesome 2014. Here are some tips...

The first hint for goal seekers is, “make sure that they are specific, measurable, and time – bound." This is not new to people, yet as an executive coach, I see regularly that the goals people set are not specific enough, not measurable, or may not have deadlines that are reasonable.  So, when you are working on coming up with your goals for the year, pay attention to describing specifically what will success look like.

Some examples of good vs not so good goals included:
I will lose 10 pounds by February 15 vs I will lose some weight this year
I will increase my savings by 5% per month vs I will save more money
I will attend three networking events each quarter vs I will go to more networking events
I will do something special for my spouse each week versus I will be a better spouse
I will get my pilot’s license by June vs I will get my pilot’s license

Some of your written goals may, and should, be lofty.  Those are the goals that should have subgoals.  Depending on the nature of your goals, then your plans and subgoals will be more elaborate.  Conversely some goals may be that simple that they will not have subgoals.  One simple action can complete that objective.

Goals don’t just do it by themselves.  Your next step is to have plans to achieve the goals.  They need an action component. You may think that this is sounding “too much like work” but trust me, this stuff works.

The final point is to make sure that you celebrate, even small incremental achievements!  So many times people achieve a goal and just keep going.  Achieving success is cause for celebration! Celebrations don’t need to be elaborate – a hot fudge brownie sundae works fine for me. 

Marsha D. Egan, CPCU, CSP, PCC, CPCU of The Egan Group, Inc. is a certified executive and success coach and member of the National Speakers’ Association. She can be reached at [email protected]  For information on coaching or seminars


A business-owner friend of mind recommends writing down each goal and saving it in a jar, saying that when you review them at the end of the year you'll be surprised by how many were actually achieved.  His idea is that the mere act of writing them down and saving them embeds them into our minds and helps us remember to keep working towards those goals.

Personally I think I'd need something even more tangible, like trying to figure out how to actually implement each step towards each goal into a real-life calendar.

Marsha Egan's picture

Thanks Georgia. It is true, writing them down does help with attainment. Just like if we write our grocery list, then forget to take it to the grocery store, we'll most likely remember 90+% of the items.

To make them even more actionable, it is even better to keep them alive. Rather than in a jar, if you have your goals in a place where you can review them, you increase your focus and attention on the goals.

Goals are a great start. Many of them have sub-goals, or things to do to acheive them. So in addition to the goal itself, breaking it into achieveable mini-goals can give them alot of energy!