If you don't know where you're going, how do you know when you get there? Any successful journey, short or small, begins with a plan. You look where you are now, and where you want to be. Taking a long trip may mean breaking out a physical map, pulling up MapQuest, or entering your starting and ending points into a GPS-enabled device.
Whichever method you choose, you're developing a set of directions to follow that you know will get you to your destination. If you're taking a long road trip, you no doubt stop several times along the way. After every few hours of driving, you need to stretch your legs, fuel up your vehicle, and perhaps get something to eat. You recognize these way-points as mini-goal achievements which let you know you are on the right track.
Successfully string enough of those hallmarks along the way and you will get to your destination, which is your big goal.
Whether taking a trip, building a business or seeking some type of personal change, you would be lost without a good set of directions. Using the right directions, and setting many small goals along the way, can help you build confidence while crushing uncertainty and self-doubt. As your small wins begin to add up you get more and more confident that you will reach your virtual or physical destination.
Why You Should Write Down Your Goals
You may have heard of the Harvard written goals study. The Harvard MBA program is extremely competitive, and difficult to get into. Since the 1970s, only 10% to 15% of all applicants are admitted. As you can imagine, this means the students who are accepted are accomplished academically, and not afraid to put in the hard work required to achieve any goal.
In 1979, the graduates of that year's Harvard MBA program were interviewed about their goals. Only 3% had "clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them". An additional 13% had goals in mind, but never wrote them down. A full 84% had no specific goals.
Ten years later, in 1989, those same students were interviewed again. Incredibly, the 13% who had committed their goals to their mind, but not down on paper, made a full "twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all." That is pretty impressive. However, the 3% who had specific, defined goals and wrote them down were making a staggering "10 times as much as the other 97% put together."
You can imagine those 3% first wrote down their goals long before starting the Harvard MBA program. Graduating from the program was probably one of their smaller goals that helped them build confidence that they could reach their overall goal, whatever it may have been.
Writing down goals means checking on them periodically to make sure you are on track. Just as you recognize you are nearing your destination on a physical trip by referring to a map, the closer you get to achieving any personal or business goal, the more confident you become that you will succeed.
Start setting goals in important areas of your life. Write them down. Break a big goal down into multiple mini-goals. Refer to your written plan frequently. Change and adapt when necessary, and as your small wins start to pile up, with each one comes an added dose of self-confidence.
The more confident you develop, the braver and more aggressive you become in setting new, bigger goals. This can perpetuate a rewarding cycle of goals building confidence, with your improved confidence-boosting self-assurance helping you set up, and knock down, more and more goals in all areas of your life.