Why 2011 is the year you should write down your goals

In yesterdays blog post, I talked about “How to set your New Years Goals and make sure you achieve them!”. In mentioned in that post and also in my last blog post of the year gone by, “2010 – My Year in Review”, how I find writing goals down helps me to achieve those goals.

I thought I’d share with you how I create and track my goals on an on going basis in the hope you might find it useful to help your own goal setting.

Firstly, I write everything down – I’ve long since learnt not to try and keep goals just in my head. The act of writing down my goals helps me to feel more committed to achieving them.

Here’s a list of the different types of lists I keep for those written goals:-

Life Plan – I keep a Word document, broken down into specific areas (Professional, Health and Wellness, Friends and Family, Financial, Personal, Contribution) with each area containing a list of Commitments – i.e. What I want to achieve (“I will spend more time with my friends and family”), an Execution Plan – i.e. the steps I’ll take to achieve this goal (“I will invite friends and family around for dinner at least once per month”) and Key Measurements i.e. A check on whether I’m achieving the goal or not (“Did I invite friends and family around for dinner at least once per month"?”).

This Life Plan is more a “high-level” view of my personal and professional goals on an on-going basis, which I review and tweak once per Quarter (there’s an Outlook reminder set for me to do this Quarterly, so I don’t forget) and includes a “Bucket List” – all those “someday” things I’d like to do, but don’t have an immediate timescale or plan for. For me it contains things like “Take a trip to Japan”, “Learn Sign Language” and the like. Interestingly, I’ve noticed since I’ve been keeping a written “Bucket List” as opposed to just keeping those ideas in my head – I seem to be ticking items off that bucket list more frequently than before, after doing them spontaneously over time.

The Quarterly review of my Life Plan means I’m conscious of what I’m doing well, and reminds me to step things up on those goals I’ve not been giving attention to.

  • Outlook Task List – Everything that needs to be done on a day-to-day basis goes into Microsoft Outlook. Often, these are routine daily jobs such as ‘phone calls to make and errands to run, but they also contain Project tasks – individual “slices” of much larger tasks from my Life Plan above (remember the “Salami” technique I mentioned for breaking down big goals yesterday?) "Thanks to Webmail and Exchange connected Mobile Phones, I’m connected to Outlook from just about anywhere – so reviewing information I’ve entered becomes easy.

Because I’m a fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology, I use GTD for Outlook from Netcentrics. This add-in for Outlook beefs up the standard task list with more specific categories. For me I have things like “@Errands” to remind me of little jobs that need to be done, “@Calls” so I have a list of Telephone Calls I need to make, and can make them in batches, and “@Home” – stuff I need to do around the house. The Add-In also adds a lot of other neat features to help keep you organised, but the key is to “write down” this information in Outlook – so it’s out of your head, and on a list. It’s surprising how much energy you waste repeatedly subconsciously telling yourself to “remember to do that”. Once it’s out of your head and on paper, that nagging voice quietens down.

  • Daily “To Do” List – Every day I take a minute or two to think about what I need to do for the day, and then write 2-3 important things down on my “Things to do today” paper notepad, sat on my work desk. These are the 2-3 things that, if I got NOTHING else done today, I’d feel satisfied and productive having achieved those things.

I then follow the “Worst First” mantra – avoiding e-mail, Facebook and Twitter until I’ve got the first item on that list done and dusted. However many distractions I get for the rest of the day, I’ve at least done something productive already!Notepad and Pen

  • Paper Notepads – Electronic Gadgets such as Mobile Phones are good for staying connected, but there’s nothing as quick as writing something down with pen and paper. I find the act of getting the idea/note/to-do out of my head and on to paper reduces my stress levels. I therefore keep notepads just about everywhere I ever am. On my work desk. In the living room. In the Kitchen. In the study, and even by my bedside. If you’re like me and can’t get to sleep because something is on your mind – try keeping a pad by your bed and writing it down. It’s amazing how well this works to help you relax.

Importantly, at least once a week I do a “sweep” of all these various notepads and make sure that they are transferred into Microsoft Outlook. Otherwise, those written tasks may get overlooked for my Daily “To Do” list.


You’ve probably got your own method of saying organised and recording your goals – both big and small – but whatever method you use, writing goals down is the first step to successfully achieving them on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.

I’m always learning new techniques – so if you have any to share, please do get in touch by leaving a comment below or reaching out to me via Twitter or e-mail!


Richard Tubb has worked in the IT industry as a Consultant and Business Owner since 1993. You can e-mail him at richard@tubbweb.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.


3 Responses to “Why 2011 is the year you should write down your goals”

  1. 1 directorcia January 5, 2011 at 1:33 am


    Chuck the Word documents and use OneNote!

    Robert Crane

  1. 1 Tweets that mention Why 2011 is the year you should write down your goals « TubbBlog -- Topsy.com Trackback on January 4, 2011 at 7:16 am

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