By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
It’s New Year’s Eve. You’re counting down the seconds until the next year starts and you can be the best version of yourself yet! You’ve set your resolutions, and you just know this year you’re going to keep them.
But if you’re anything like 80% of people, your resolutions will fail two weeks into February.
Why do we find it so hard to achieve the goals we set for ourselves? It’s a universal problem. Science shows that 92% of people don’t reach their New Year’s goals… Unfortunately, this seems to derail people from setting goals at all. A Harvard MBA study revealed 84% of the students didn’t even set goals, and only three percent of the students claimed they set goals as well as plans to achieve them.
And this is where people often fall short. It’s one thing to have a goal, and another to know how you’re going to achieve it. That’s where SMART goals come in handy.
You’ve probably heard of SMART goals. They’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, and according to studies, they really work. But SMART goals aren’t the true secret to achieving your goals. They’re certainly a step in the right direction, and you should utilize them, but if you really want to step up and tick every goal off your list, you need to do one specific thing:
Write them down.
When was the last time you picked up a pen and paper and actually wrote down what you want to achieve? Chances are, you probably have a slew of goals floating around in your head. Lose weight, get a promotion, spend more time with family.
Whatever your goals may be, no matter how small or big, you need to physically write them down. Why? Studies show that people who write their goals down in vivid detail are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to succeed.
It may seem like an odd extra step to take, but writing down your goals actually works on a neuroscientific level. Writing anything down encodes the information in your brain as well as in your long-term memory, making you more likely to remember the information and keeping it accessible and locked into your brain. When the most important information is right at the front of your brain, you can focus on it more efficiently.
Remember the small 3% of Harvard MBA students who wrote down their goals? A decade later, they were making ten times more than the other 97%. Of course, writing down your goals is just the first step—and perhaps other confounding variables influenced these results. Nonetheless, it’s an incredibly important first step toward truly achieving your goals.
So this New Year’s Eve, once you’re done toasting to your resolutions with champagne, pull out that pen and jot those goals down.
…You may just find yourself making it past that second week of February.
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