Got a Plan? Write it down!

Like many I enjoy reading personal growth books. Stephen Covey is a favourite. So a few weeks ago I was reading a book Goals by Bryan Tracey. If there are exercises I usually do them, so I was putting together a 10 Goal plan as Tracey suggests. I have some Career goals, some Fitness and Health goals (Who doesn’t) , Family, Finance, Travel, Learning etc. As I wrote out my plan and started to develop time lines something in the back of my mind said “I’ve done this before”. I flipped through the book, trying to be sure I hadn’t read it before. No, certainly not. But something just seemed too familiar. I continued the exercise, but I have learned not to ignore that little voice. So I started flipping through old journals. (Another habit from the Self Help books) And I found it. Over two years earlier I had read a similar book Vision by Gordon D’Angelo. And the exercises from his book were in my journal; which lead to the surprise.

Two years earlier I had put together a plan with 12 Goals. I had spent a couple of days thinking about it, writing it down, developing time lines and some interim milestones. And then I had put it aside and had totally forgotten about it. I thought. But when I reviewed that plan from more than 2 years ago, I had fully achieved 8 of the Goals and had really good progress on two more.  So just the act of thinking about the plan and writing it down had put part of my mind to work on it.

There is some great research happening on the Neuropsychology of why we remember what we write down. Whether sub-consciously or by some other power, the act of writing down the plan had moved it forward. And writing down the plan is certainly something both writers say is important.

I am not sure what the mechanism is, how putting pen to paper seems to bring forces to bear that just thinking about the plan does not. But it works. It worked for me. And I could only think, if writing it down one time was so successful, what might be achieved by keeping the plan constantly on your mind, by revisiting it regularly, making updates and marking milestones, and adjusting the plan when progress in an area is not moving forward as planned. I am going to try that approach this time.

But the first lesson is: If you have a plan, write it down!