Don’t put it off – write down your goals

4 June, 2018
If you write down your goals you’re likely to accomplish more than those who don’t write down their goals.

That’s one of the conclusions from a 2016 study by Dr. Gail Matthews from the Dominican University*.

Dr Matthews wanted to empirically prove what many of us have heard in the past. Perhaps you heard it from a teacher, personal coach or motivational speaker – “To be successful, write down your goals!”

So if you thought it was an urban myth – think again.


What was the goals research about?

The research enlisted participants from around the world including the United States, Belgium, England, India, Australia and Japan. The participants worked in a variety of jobs including educators, healthcare professionals, lawyers, bankers, marketers and managers.

Each participant was randomly placed into one of five groups:

Group one was asked to simply think about the business-related goals they hoped to achieve and rate each goal by:
  • difficulty and importance

  • the level of skills and resources they had to accomplish the goal

  • their commitment and motivation.

All the other groups were asked to write down their goals and then rate them as per group one.

Group three was also asked to write actions for each goal.

Group four was asked to write actions and also share those actions with a friend.

Group five did all of the above plus they wrote a weekly progress report and shared it with a friend.

Types of goals

The types of goals people set covered areas such as increasing their income, enhancing performance, enhancing life balance and getting organised. For example, listing and selling a house, hiring employees or completing a strategic plan. 

What were the outcomes?

At the end of four weeks, each participant rated their progress towards achieving their goals.

Unsurprisingly, Group five achieved significantly more than all the other groups.

Group two - the people who simply wrote down their goals, achieved significantly more than Group one who didn’t write their goals. 

And, Group four – the people who wrote action items and shared their goals with a friend, achieved even more.

What does it mean?

Overall, the research showed that by simply writing down your goals you are more likely to achieve them compared to someone who doesn’t write them down. You are even more likely to achieve them if you share them with someone – as this makes you accountable to other people and encourages you to achieve them.

Set your goals and seek advice

The way a Bridges financial planner can work with you is strikingly similar. A Bridges financial planner can:
  • help you write down and record your goals by looking at your current financial situation and personal circumstances to see what opportunities you have

  • build a plan with action items and measurable steps to keep you on track

  • be there for you to share your progress and keep you accountable to achieve them.

To get started, go to the My Goals website.

Or, take the next step

If you’re ready to take the next step make an appointment with a Bridges financial planner.

We have an established alliance with Bridges financial services, to provide our customers with financial advice. Bridges has been helping Australians for over 30 years and is one of Australia’s largest, national, financial planning and stockbroking organisations. Bridges has a network of more than 170 financial planners across Australia servicing more than 50,000 clients.

A Bridges financial planner will develop a plan specifically for you - one that’s tailored to your needs and circumstances, to help you achieve your goals.

* Research study by Dr. G Matthews, Dominican University, California, 2016.

Bridges Financial Services Pty Limited (Bridges) ABN 60 003 474 977. ASX Participant. AFSL 240837. Part of the IOOF group
This is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation and needs. Before making an investment decision based on this information, you should assess your own circumstances and consult a financial planner or a registered tax agent. Examples are illustrative only. In referring customers to Bridges, Central West Credit Union does not accept responsibility for any acts, omissions or advice provided by Bridges and its Authorised Representatives.