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The importance of writing down your goals, then keeping them private (but not a secret)...

Setting goals. Writing them down. Captain Obvious, right?

Well, there's more to it than that. A lot more.

I'm a believer in writing down goals. A year ago this week I wrote a vivid goal to myself, with the first sentence reading, “This is the year I will publish my first book.” Writing them down each year has become a part of my DNA.

But from the geeky neuroscience I read to write my book, there’s some incredible research on this topic that didn't make the book - but really matters! Here’s the gist:

  • Saying a goal to yourself is nice, but writing it down creates a brain map - telling your brain, “I’m serious, I want this!” And, depending on the study, your likelihood of achievement goes up 20-45%. 
  • Sharing your goal with a friend or a key constituent almost doubles the odds of accomplishment. Last year, I shared my goal with my wife.
  • Here’s the rub: Sharing a goal broadly (i.e., via a LinkedIn broadcast), according to a number of studies, LOWERS the odds of fully achieving it. In one study, those who shared their goal broadly stopped short when they got “close enough”.  (if you want to read the study write-up, here's the link - warning, it's nerdy!) 

My take: We often "think of" goals, but writing them down signals to our brains that we're serious about accomplishing them. Sharing with a friend or key constituent is an extra step of accountability, especially when it's shared with someone we respect and can hold us accountable. Sharing the goal broadly often becomes part of a personal branding exercise, where the goal is partially achieved just by making it public.

Step 1: Take an hour of your life (it’s worth it) and write down your goal(s) for 2019 vividly.

Step 2: Keep it private, but not a secret.

Step 3: When you think you want to share it on social, see Step 2.

Then, have an incredible new year!

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