For my recent lecture to students on setting educational and life goals I reviewed over a book I read years ago. The book is Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser PhD. She has taught English at several Universities and is a writing and communications consultant to Fortune 500 companies. Her book looks at the importance of writing down your goals for what you really want out of your life. The book is full of stories of famous people and not so famous people who accomplished amazing things in their lives. One common element in them was that they wrote down lists and goals of what they wanted to do. The stories show how the goals they wrote down came true.
One of the first stories she mentions is that of Scott Adams. He is well known as the cartoonist behind the Dilbert comic strip. Scott did not graduate from high school and become a cartoonist right away. His early career life was that of a technology worker. He did at the time have a habit of doodling during work. I do not know if that is a basic skill of a cartoonist. That may explain why I never became one as I do not doodle. Henriette points out Scott Adams did something else. He started a habit of writing 15 times a day, “I will become a syndicated cartoonist.” If you know anything about writers and artists rejection is part of their life journey. Scott Adams never gave up he kept trying by resending the cartoon out to possible vendors.
One day it happened that he received a contract to syndicate the Dilbert Cartoon. That is when he changed what he wrote down. He then started writing “I will be the best cartoonist on the planet.” That is difficult to know who is the best at cartooning but one has to admit he made Dilbert very popular as it became a cartoon listed in newspapers around the world. His Dilbert books have sold well as well as Dilbert fans can buy Dilbert mugs, calendars and other items. All of this from a personal dream, turned into a written down goal list.
As you read through Dr. Klauser’s book you can read a variety of stories of personal dreams coming true as people wrote them down in diaries, journals, scraps of paper, or goal statement forms. Is it some kind of magic to write something down and it happens? No I don’t believe it is magic. Just writing it down does not mean it will happen.
There are a couple aspects of writing things down that I believe can help in reaching the goal you are trying for. First of all by writing the goal or desire down you are focusing your mind to work towards the end of reaching your goal. If my mind is more focused I can plan better to reach the goal. A focused mind also allows for stronger levels of persistence. After a couple of rejection letters Scott Adams could have given up his daily writing his “I will become a syndicated cartoonist” list. Then he would have just resigned himself to stop doodling and work quietly in his cubicle. The world would then be a less funny place as Dilbert would have never happened. By writing his list each day he kept focused on not letting the rejection get the best of him. I am not a Dilbert fan but I can say the world is a better place because of Adams humor found in the Dilbert cartoon.
The writing down of your goals also makes you have a higher commitment level. If my goal is just something I talk about to friends it can be just that. Just talk. But if I take the time to write it down I force myself to think through ways of reaching the goal. Writing the goal down makes me take more ownership and responsibility in making the goal happen. If you are trying to accomplish some things that you just keep mulling over in your mind try writing them down. If you need some inspiration in doing this look for the book Write It Down, Make It Happen in your local library and read the inspiring stories of people just like you who have accomplished their dreams by writing it down.
Reflection -- Think over a couple of things you really wanted to accomplish this year and are already falling out of your grasp. Take some moments to write them down specifically how you want your goal concretely to look. Try what Scott did and go back that goal every day writing it down and see what happens.