Finding it hard to write down goals? Hemingway struggled writing but eventually triumphed. Surprisingly, famous book authors’ quotes about writing can teach you how to write perfect goals.
Some frequently cited sources turned out to be an urban myth. You may have heard of the one reporting that ‘the 3% of students who had written goals earned on average 10 times as much as the other 97% of the class combined, 20 years later’.
Thought provoking, but sadly it has never been proven. No such research has been conducted. I am 99% sure ;-)
Luckily, the hype around this goal setting myth did cause researchers to put on their white coats and actually investigate the effectiveness of goal setting.
It turns out the legitimate results were arguably just as impressive as the myth: those who write down goals are 42% more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t write goals down.
Why is writing goals so hard?
The report does not list any reasons for ‘why’ writing down goals appears to make people more effective. It also doesn’t reveal why writing down goals is often much harder than we think, despite the many goal setting acronyms and templates that are available to start you off right. You might start to feel a bit embarrassed.
Luckily, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Many literary masters have skillfully and concisely worded what makes writing so hard for them. Hardly a surprise they can, since they’re writers. Writing entire books, however, is harder than even their authors thought.
It seems many quotes by literary masters about writing books apply to writing down goals too. Hardly a surprise marketers can fill up a to do list, but setting proper goals is always incredibly hard for everyone.
Guided by some brillant qoutes about the pain and glory of writing, let me explain why writing down goals is so hard, and why mastering it should be everyone’s primary goal.
Asking ‘why’ is an uncomfortable investment, with great returns
Although it may look simple at first, deciding on which goal to pursue can be incredibly hard. You’ll have to become very specific about what you want to achieve. That means asking yourself ‘why’ it is you do things, while all you’ve been doing up until now is ask ‘how’. Inevitably, your first attempts will leave room for improvement.
Envisioning in great detail is hard
If you don’t write you goals down and you just keep it floating around your head for a couple of years, you tend to become sloppy: “well, you know, I know it’s not perfect, but I know what I mean in the back of my mind.” You’ll be tempted to glance over things and cut yourself too much slack.
Invite imperfection to hit you in the face and improve
Like a sculptor, you’ll need to create something to walk around a couple of times to see what’s wrong with it, and how it can be improved. Write your goals down and force yourself to read over them a dozen times. Dare to apply newfound knowledge to improve upon them. In constantly changing business environments, you’ll be reviewing your goals every (couple of) week(s). You need to be on top of your goals like you are on top of your last email or post-it note.
It feels great to have the reassurance that what you’re doing adds value. It feels great to write down goals.