Man Writing Goals

Writing and referencing your goals on a daily basis is a habit that will focus your energy and set you on a path to get what you really want out of life.

A concept I first learned from the book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”  is that everything in this world is created twice.

It all starts as an idea that you repeat in your head, scribble on a loose piece of paper or thoughtfully draft on a digital document. The second creation – the part we all get to see – is how you bring that idea into the physical world.

The stronger you make your idea, the easier it will be to bring it into reality.

“You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal.” – Zig Ziglar

First Draft of Ideas

Why Write and Review Your Goals?

When you write and review your goals regularly you will be able to live a more fulfilling, intentional life by:

  • Keeping track of what you want. Setting your goals in writing forces you allows you to define and refine what you really want and need. Your goals will act as signposts you can reference when you are unsure of what action you should take.
  • Having a reference to call you out. A written document states your intentions in black and white. When you review those intentions often, it becomes obvious when you are not performing the actions necessary to reach your goals.
  • Allowing you to be a better long-term decision maker.  Referencing written goals allows you to think more clearly about what you want. This clear thinking will lead to better decisions. Day by day you will be better able to consider, not only the short term benefits of your choices, but the long term paths you’d like your life to follow.

Where to Write Your Goals

I currently keep my written goals inside Evernote. I do this so I have access to my goals wherever I go via my smartphone. I also use Evernote because the notes are easily linked to my daily rituals in OmniFocus.

I previously used Google Drive, but the document was slower to upload on my phone making me less likely to review or edit my goals on the fly. The actual software you use to capture your goals doesn’t matter – the point is that you write your goals in a place that can be easily referenced.

Other places you could write your goals include:  a Microsoft Word document, a plain text file, digital mindmap, a portable paper notebook like Moleskin or even a notecard will do.

How to Write Your Goals

The first step to writing your goals is asking yourself, “What do I want?” When you ask yourself this question, different things may come up depending on context, time of life, projects you are working on at work, etc.

For reference, here are the big ‘wants’ I currently hold:

To connect with highest version of myself.
To know more than I did yesterday.
To lessen the suffering of others.
A JobA Career. A Calling.
To change the world and have a hell of a good time.

These big wants will change. Keep adding and subtracting different goals until you find a set that you are excited to work toward.

Next take the time to figure out your top 3 goals in each of the following areas of your life:

  • Material
    • Make $100,000 a year doing something I love.
    • Buy a house.
    • Create a passive income cash flow.
  • Physical
    • Rested- via daily meditation and 7.5 hours of sleep
    • Strong- via daily exercise and vigorous exercise 3 days a week
    • Energized – via required daily vegetables and supplements
  • Family and Relationships
    • Talk to parents and siblings 2-3 times a week
    • Call lifelong friends once a week
    • Physical intimacy with my partner 3+ times a week
  • Personal Development
    • Write daily
    • Read and implement new business ideas weekly
    • Find public speaking opportunities monthly
  • Social and Community
    • Build relationships with neighbors via gardening and dinner parties
    • Volunteer tutoring weekly
    • Build relationship with gym members via finding interests and encouragement
  • Concerns
    • Keep abundance mentality
    • Finish what I start
    • Devoting enough time to my relationships

Some other examples you could develop goals around include spirituality, mental or emotional needs or adventures you’d like to have. The sky is the limit.

How to Review Your Goals

You can make reviewing your goals a ritual by putting them in an obvious spot, such as on your refrigerator or computer.

Goals on refrigerator

I personally review my goals as part of my morning ritual. OmniFocus reminds me and I simply click on the attachment where my goals are stored in Evernote.

The easier it is to access and the more obvious location you put your written goals, the less likely they will end up unreviewed and unrealized.

To Sum Up

Life offers a myriad of paths to follow.

Writing your goals is like drawing the map. And reviewing your goals is like referencing the map. The better the map and more often it’s checked, the quicker you’ll reach your desired destination.

You may also Like

Last Updated: February 9, 2021

Read More

Last Updated: December 8, 2020

Read More


Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. You are right.
    Writing goals is the most important part in any goal setting process.
    I agree totally with this and had the same point on this in my own goal setting post.
    Thank you!

  2. Hi,
    Just found this article and really wanting to get my goals on paper and work on reviewing them everyday.

    Since this article was written several years ago; anything new you would add? And hacks or better methods?

  3. “Review Your Goals Daily”:
    100 times more powerful approach is to ***Write*** Your Goals (from scratch, on a new blank page) ***Each***Morning***

    I learned it from Brian Tracy “Goals” program.

    I also use Evernote. I have “My Goals” notebook, and each morning first thing after doing pi-pi, measuring weight, and drinking water is to start new journal entry in this notebook, and write down and visualize 10+ goals.

    Each goal should be “PPP”: Positive+Personal+Present.

    For example: “I am super strong and healthy”. Write it in present tense.

    Then I do 45 minutes of exercise: 40-floors walk, stretching, dumbells (just warm-up). At the same time, my subconscious mind absorbs my goals.

    It is the best to write down goals early in the morning, or before going to sleep.

    I read about this trick from different sources. One well-known dating coach “Hypnotica” for example advocates to write it on paper and loudly read it each morning, such as “I am confident”, “I have excellent communication skills”, etc.; and he provides audio recording which helps to reprogram you. Did he read Brian Tracy’s book too? He studied psychology.

    BTW I started feeling that SCRUM borrowed their tasks writing style from here too: “As a user, I want to add new entry to journal …” – something from psychology of subconscious.

    “I am super smart!”

  4. Written goals are more “tangible” to people – they have an 85% higher chance of following through with goals written out than if they just keep them in their head. Great post, and thanks for the reminder!

  5. From a GTD perspective, do you typically review your 30,000 and 40,000 foot goals every day? Seems a bit excessive on the 40k level. The 30k level makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your 2 cents, Joe.

      I feel like those 40 and 50,000 foot goals are like a company’s mission. It should be ingrained and referenced against most things you do. e.g. “Will doing x help me reach my goal of y?”

      However, if the goals are deeply embedded, I agree. You could probably start to mentally reference them rather than physically review the list… the problem is, most goals are forgotten before this point and therefore can never be realized.

  6. Great post! I love reading from AEs vast amount of wisdom. I have been more empowered to wake up in the morning when I have clearly defined the purpose of the things I am doing and who I do them for. Without vision people feel lost. Yonngi Cho said “tell me your vision and Ill tell you your future.”

    Thanks again Zach

    1. I appreciate the complement Tyler.

      I like your point on having a smaller daily vision in combination with your long term goals. I’d say keeping those clear and aligned is the “secret sauce” for creating the future you want.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}