Why You Shouldn’t Write Down Your Yearly Goals

I thought I had this year all figured out. I’d wear a very pretty dress to my graduation ceremony at a university I worked hard to transfer into; for summer I’d go to Russia, and in the fall be back to start a job in NYC. With virtual graduation, international borders closed, and market difficulties affecting jobs and current employees (not even mentioning new employees), my ideal year has definitely not been going the way I wrote it down. I want to share with you what you can do to organize your goals instead of putting them neatly on a piece of paper.

  1. 1. Do not write your goals down 

    new years resolution no resolution

    When we write something down, our brain makes it more significant than if we had just kept it in our minds. Therefore, if we don’t achieve those goals for whatever reason, we become much less satisfied with ourselves when we see that list than we would have been had we not written the list in the first place.

  2. 2. Plan only short-term goals and vital goals–nothing in between

    Woman standing

    Let me explain: if your goal is to do something out of your comfort zone, there is nothing that’s stopping you from doing it literally right now. Get that ear piercing, talk to a stranger, or learn to ride a skateboard, but don’t wait for a certain time or month. Short-term goals are generally easy to achieve in a day or so, but we still for some reason wait and plan. Now for those goals that you spend every waking day thinking about, like weight loss, or that job application, or learning a new language –whatever it is, start today! Unlike short-term goals, it’s impossible to achieve these dream goals in one day, so you must work on them daily for a small period of time. Not “in March," and don’t tell yourself you “want to take it slow." Taking it slow may lead to delaying it, and who knows if one day you won’t be able to do it at all. Start today! If a goal is so important to you, why are you not working on it and writing it down instead? 

  3. 3. Remember your goals, even if they’re only in your mind

    "you got this" on a letter board

    If it’s important, you won’t forget; and if it’s not, then maybe it’s not a good goal for you. Don't let ditching the list cause you to stop prioritizing or working towards your goals.

I’ve always been a fan of writing things down; I thought it made things feel so much more official. We often forget what life can throw at us, especially if we have been lucky enough not to experience its hardships daily. We always think we have time. I, for example, wanted to get a piercing that I’ve been terrified about, and I kept delaying the process because I was too scared. Now, sitting at home, only being able to go out extremely early in the morning for a quick bike ride or a run in Central Park, I wish I had just done it! 

Remember, think the process over; many spontaneous things can just be inspired by boredom. Just don’t wait long–you might not have that next month, or even that next week to do it. 


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