People live up to what they have written down. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR OnPoint 2001, PN* 7915), once someone puts something in writing, the odds that he or she will fulfill the commitment greatly increases. This principle of life is proven in several ways; for example, people who write down their goals are much more likely to follow, remember and fulfill these goals than people who do not write them down. Furthermore, once someone puts a commitment into writing, they feel they are obliged to fulfill it. This explains why successful organizations have the habit of putting up their mission statements, visions and core values all over the walls of their offices. This serves as a way of reminding their stakeholders about the direction in which they are heading.
Of course, this rule, as scientifically proven as it is, doesn’t work for everybody. There are those that, no matter how much writing they do, will never live by their commitments and achieve their goals. However, that shouldn’t be you. The understanding of this rule has helped improve my level of productivity. For example, before heading into the youth service year, I made a list of 12 goals I must achieve by July 2015. Two, out of those goals have been achieved, one of which is to become a feature writer on Bella Naija (oya, clap for me now!). Also, the fact that I wrote down my goals as afforded me the opportunity of revisiting and updating them almost weekly. In the last four months, I have updated the list more than twice. In the process, I took out the goals that no longer made meaning and added new ones to the list. The list now has a new look to it. The advantage of having my goals in writing is that I get to look at them whenever I feel I’m losing sight of what’s important and the thought of not achieving all of them spurs me back into action. As a matter of fact, the pursuit of these goals enabled me adopt a new philosophy for living: “there is no such thing as free time”.
Another thing about written goals and commitments is that, once made public, they become even more powerful. When you make your commitment to a cause public knowledge, you put yourself under obligation to fulfill it (consciously or unconsciously). This will work especially well for people who lack internal discipline and rely on external factors to discipline themselves. I know a fellow who belonged to this category of people. He felt he didn’t have a good grip on himself so he relied on friends and external forces to help put himself under.
However, with time, he has come to grips with the intricacies of internal discipline and he’s been able to control himself better than before. Written goals are like written mathematical formulas, they make the examinations of life easier to overcome. I remember during WAEC exam, mathematics formula and log book was the saving grace. Without that book, I probably wouldn’t have been able to solve most of the math questions because I didn’t know them offhand. That’s how it is with written goals too. They give you the needed guidance on how you should approach life, especially in tough times. It is imperative you understand that your goals shouldn’t be set in stone. Give room for flexibility and change, because sometimes you will need to bend to life’s winds so you can survive and make meaning of things.
Have a wonderful time putting down all your goals, no matter how few or numerous, or easy or difficult they are. You’ll never regret it.
*PN stands for Product Number.
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