The Importance of Writing Down Your Goals On Paper

Updated: September 22, 2014

Do you have plans and goals in your life? I’m sure you do because everyone does. They might be as simple as finishing a home project or starting a new hobby, or as grand as becoming a famous personality or traveling the whole world.

No matter what and how big your dreams are, it’s important that you make it a habit to write them down on paper.

Yes, you read it right – write them down on paper.

You might be thinking, how can such a simple task of writing down my goals on paper help me achieve them? Is this idea just another one of those articles that promote the Law of Attraction?

writing goals on paper

Well, partly it is, but there’s more to it than just “attracting your goals”. There are other reasonable explanations that prove why writing down your goals on paper can help you achieve them. But first I’d like to share to you two university studies about this topic.

Thanks to a comment by Daniel Reynen below, I’ve discovered that these studies actually did not happen. However, there was one real study which was done at Dominican University that demonstrated that writing one’s goal enhances goal achievement.

If you’d like to read more about the study at Dominican University, which was done by Dr. Gail Matthews, you may visit this website which also explains more details regarding the Harvard and Yale study myth.

And just in case you’re wondering what those fake studies said, here they are below as originally presented here before this update.

In 1964, all members of the Harvard Business School graduating class stated that they have, at graduation, clear goals that they want to accomplish in life. Among them, 5% took the time to write it down on paper. In 1984, a follow up study was done and it was discovered that 95% of those who wrote down their goals were able to achieve them within 20 years. Among the “lazy” majority, only 5% of them were able to reach their expected goals.

An earlier study in Yale University also had similar results. This time, only 3% of the 1953 graduating class made written goals. Twenty years after, in 1973, it was found out that this 3% of Yale graduates were able to accomplish more goals than the rest of the other 97% combined.

Despite the fact that the Harvard and Yale studies never happened, the results of the research done at Dominican University still concluded that writing goals is indeed better because of the following reasons.

What happens when you write down your goals?

  • It becomes a written contract to yourself which usually sparks a personal motivation to achieve them.
  • It makes you define clearly what your goals are. Writing them down encourages you to state what you want in greater detail.
  • It frees your mind of perpetually thinking and “remembering” your goals.
  • It stimulates creativity and motivates you to think about the next step.

goal setting techniques

How do you write down your goals?

  1. Write your goals down on a big and clean piece of paper.
  2. Add more details to each of your goals.
  3. Set a deadline for your goals. Be realistic with the date.
  4. Come up with a plan on how you’ll achieve your goals. Stimulate your creativity.
  5. Again, write down this plan, which now becomes a new goal in itself.
  6. Repeat everything until you’ve unloaded everything in your mind.

What happens next after writing down my goals?

The next obvious step after writing down your goals is to start working to achieve them. Notice that by writing them down and doing the process above, you are able to break down your goals into smaller and simpler tasks. Furthermore, you’ve probably made for yourself a concrete plan of action that will help you succeed in your goals.

By writing out your goals, they become embedded on your subconscious mind and crystallized in your consciousness”¦ Never lose sight of your goals. Never let the business of the everyday allow you to forget about your life goals. By thinking about them constantly and acting on them daily, you will steadily create the brilliant life you know in your heart you deserve. – Robin Sharma, personality development expert

A great way that can help you achieve your goals through writing is mind mapping. This is an extremely powerful tool for learning, brainstorming, and stimulating creativity. Don’t miss this topic and subscribe to Ready To Be Rich.

Photo courtesy of heaterâ„¢ and PartsnPieces


  1. Wow. Parang an hour ago kausap ko lang yung isa sa mga managers namin about knowing your goals and how to achieve them! 😀

    I will print a copy of this entry Kuya Fitz 🙂 Salamat ulit 🙂

  2. Hi Fitz,

    Thanks for visiting my blog! You’ve got a great looking site here and intelligent and thoughtful posts.

    Writing down goals is definitely a tried and true piece of wisdom. There’s a big difference between thinking about something and doing it, and taking the physical step of writing down a goal is starting down a road of taking action. And, of course, taking action is the only way to get someplace!

    When I was first trying to make money from my websites, I had a sticky note next to my monitor that said “$100 a day.” Not the longest and most detailed goal statement, but it worked, and I eventually reached and surpassed that point. 🙂

  3. […] The Importance of Writing Down Your Goals On Paper […]

  4. While I do believe that writing down your goals does help achieve them, the Harvard and Yale stories are urban legend, fueled by shoddy internet “journalism.” They never happened.

  5. […] all know the importance of note-taking and writing down goals. If you don’t, then read this post. It explains why writing goals on paper (which I will simply call tasks for now) is extremely […]

  6. Great article about the importance of writing down your goals, unfortunately the two “studies” referenced at Harvard and Yale never happened. They have been repeated dozens of times in books and online, but are only urban myths. (Find a copy of either original study and you’ll quickly discover…they don’t exist. Just references to them. Also notice nobody ever lists the names of the researchers…again it’s because they’re fictional.)

    There was a study done AFTER those became popularized at Dominican University that showed writing down your goals is better. So the intent is certainly good, just the evidence of why its good is false.

  7. Writing down our goals create a vivid picture of what we want to achieve. I believe in the power of visualization and it includes writing down goals that helps create mental pictures of how we want things to come out. – Done it. It works.

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