You don’t have goals.  You have vague wishes and dreams that disappear at the first minor distraction of an aimless life.  That is, unless you write them down.

A new year is coming.  New hope, new dreams, but unfortunately it is often the same old us.  Time keeps passing as we keep failing. It doesn’t have to be that way.  What if we could take the first step to turning real goals into real life?

How to achieve and crush goals is quite a big topic to cover and would actually take more than just reading about it in an article or book.  After all, success cannot be taught, it must be caught.

Let’s briefly look at the art of writing goals.  It’s a tiny piece, but important piece of achieving goals.  And it’s the one people often trip over just before they give up on another year.

What if you set one goal, that if achieved this year, would have a significant positive impact on your life?

Not 5 or 10 goals. What most people do besides not setting any goals is that they set too many, giving 10% to each of 10 goals and end up accomplishing none. It can demoralize us right back to that dreaded rinse and repeat.

Instead, let’s choose a goal that lights our fire, kicks our butt, raises the flagpole, or your local euphemism for the kind of giddy that comes from Christmas morning when you’re 5 years old.

Something so incredibly exciting to us – not to our parents, neighbors, or best friend – that we don’t even have to set the alarm to wake up in the morning. Leave realistic for the losers, we’re looking for remotely possible if you gave it your all.

Once you have it, it’s time to write it down. Now. Seriously, right now. Go get a pad or paper. I’ll wait. Well? Don’t worry, they say it’s only weird the first time.  The right time to do the right thing is right now.

Great job.  Now consider these pointers:

1. Be specific

Our minds don’t operate on generalities.  Saying we want to be rich or happy has no defined meaning in our minds.  What is rich and happy? For some, $100 is a fortune, for others it’s what they earn per waking minute.

Write your goal with as much specificity as you can.  Instead of rich, how about $3.92 million in Chase bank, account number ending 12345.  Instead of happy, what is it that would contribute to your happiness? A family vacation to Italy for 19 days during the fall harvest?

If our minds can’t understand it, we’re going to have a difficult time realizing it. Make it real by making it specific.

2. Clarity of Vision

Can you see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, hold it?  In other words, can you experience it in its entirety before it ever happens?  This takes a written goal with specificity off the paper and into your mind.

This transformation from the logical (on paper) to the emotional (in your heart and mind) is the fertilizer for success.  How would accomplishing your goal make you feel? Let that feeling drive you forward even when obstacles are in your way.

If it helps, go “test drive” your dream.  Do it on a smaller scale, see that open house, take a one-nighter of luxury, etc.  Use pictures in the form of a vision board to help cement the feeling.

3. Set a deadline

Why do you think so many people file their taxes on April 15, the last day allowed?  Because without a deadline, we’d never get around to doing it. Writing down a deadline adds yet another layer of reality to your goal.

There’s another magic element to this.  A deadline gives us the impetus and opportunity to make a plan of attack.  Starting with the end of the goal in mind allows us to reverse engineer how we will accomplish it.

Without a deadline, we’re dead.

4. Be assumptive

Write your goal with the assumption of success.  How we write the goal will determine how our mind goes to work on achieving it.  One of the biggest mistakes is writing it in terms of “want”. If your goal is “I want $1M”, then isn’t your goal already achieved?

Instead, state it as if it has already been obtained:  “I have $1M in my savings account on July 15th”. Can you feel the difference?  Using statements like “I am”, “I have”, and “I do” and avoiding statement like “I want”, “I will”, and “I hope” will make a world of difference.

5. Handwriting

My parents always told me I had the handwriting of a doctor.  It wasn’t long before I found out that this wasn’t a compliment.  What I hadn’t realized until much later is the power of writing by hand.

They say what flows through you, sticks to you.  There is a special connection that occurs when we write with our hands as opposed to typing or talk-to-text.  We stay more connected with our message. It generally requires more intention to handwrite than to simply type.

Grab that old pen and paper and give it a chance.

6. Daily activity

Writing goals is not a once-and-done activity.  This is the most insidious trap in which we can fall.  We write them on New Year’s Day and then put them in a drawer, hoping they will magically come to life.  How has that worked out so far?

Writing every day keeps your goal at the forefront of your mind.  It starts to become the reason you wake up (shouldn’t it be anyways?)  It also starts to cement a certain self-discipline, since you must write it down whether or not you feel like it, rainy or sunny, hot or cold.

If you can keep this commitment to yourself, what can’t you do?

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