The Magic of Written Goals
Roald Amundsen was a superhero of his day. He was a scientist, adventurer, and explorer.
In 1911 he led the group that first reached the South Pole.
As a researcher, he made observations and took scientific measurements.
He was one of the “big thinkers” of his era.
He was also an inveterate “journal-er” and note-taker of daily happenings and activities, large and small.
Consistency and the 20-MILE MARCH
In his book “Great By Choice,” business writer Jim Collins tells the Amundsen/South Pole story this way: In 1911, two explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott would, lead separate teams on an expedition race to the South Pole.
The final push was on foot. There and back was roughly 1400 miles, representing a round trip from New York to Chicago in some of the world’s harshest climate conditions.
While both teams had the same goal. They would travel the same distance in near-impossible conditions. However, each had entirely different strategies for their journey.
Scott’s strategy was to walk as far as possible on good weather days and then rest up on bad days to conserve energy.
Conversely, Amundsen and his team kept up a strict regimen of hiking only 20 miles a day, no matter what. Of course, on good days, his team could do more than 20 miles; however, Amundsen was adamant that they pace themselves at 20 miles to conserve energy.
Which team won?
It was Amundsen’s, simply because they took consistent action toward a measurable goal.
Scott’s team arrived nearly a month later.
Numerous books and movies have been dedicated to his compelling story.
Here’s a grainy 10 minute YouTube Clip.
There’s a simple elegance in mundanity, especially when it moves you in the direction you want.
That same leadership principle holds true for you and me with our “here and now” goals.
As a leader, having a robust goal-setting mechanism and consistent follow-through is critical to your success and that of your organization.
Jotting things down in real time has become second nature for me. I rarely think about it. I just instinctively do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a one-word goal for that day or that year.
See My Three Words
It’s resulted in a growing archive of notebooks and daily planners that I often refer back to. Particularly when it comes to tracking progress toward my personal goals.
Why is this important?
It boils down to three immediate benefits.
For starters, it fast-tracks my thinking toward clarity. It helps me distill facts from those annoying emotions. As a “dyed in the wool” INFJ, I seem to have an overabundance of those.
Secondly, writing things down creates a measure of accountability. I’m a progress and productivity nerd, so having goals and interim reference points to measure progress are vitally important to me.
Thirdly, it provides a platform for meaningful interaction when others become aware of my goals.
They have a chance to metabolize information, respond, and maybe even join me in an adventure.
Unwritten goals are like unplanted seeds. Not much happens until you plant and care for them.
The benefits of written goals are numerous. Here are but a few
Goals Show You Where To Go
Okay, so there are some things you want to get done in life. But to what extent? Setting a goal shows you where and how to get there. While you may be headed in the right direction, you could wander off the path without a plan and get lost. You could also end up somewhere other than where you wanted to go.
Goals Measure Your Progress
You may be already pursuing something you are passionate about in life. How far have you come? Do you know? If you don’t, you don’t have a goal guiding you.
Besides just showing you where to go, goals also help you see how far you have come, giving you a good measure of what you still have to do.
Goals Keep You Motivated
Do you struggle with staying motivated? This is why you need goals. As you see your progress toward your objective, this will help keep you motivated, even when the going gets tough.
The physical act of writing down a goal has been shown in one Harvard study to increase the likelihood of you achieving it. Simply writing it down can be a huge motivator to help you change your everyday life to make your goal a reality.
Goals Inform Your Purpose
Knowing where you should go or the career you should pursue can take time and effort. Goals help us make choices. A seemingly insignificant and simple goal might even help you make better choices.
There are umpteen reasons why written goals are essential. But overall, to achieve success, you need to start by making a written list of your aspirational goals. Then start crafting a plan about how to get started.
This will help show you where to go, keep you on track, and keep you motivated as you go.
Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to achievement.
Until next time,