April 15, 2015
By Dave Braun
LO President

Dave Braun I was asked a question in a business seminar that I attended about having the company’s goals in writing. I was embarrassed to be in the minority with those who hadn’t earned the right to raise a hand in positive response to the question.

Writing your goals down on paper is a funny thing; everyone knows they should do it, but so few of us do. It’s like eating right or exercising. Goal setting isn’t that hard to do, but it’s a lot easier NOT to do it.

So what happens when we write down a goal on paper?  What’s so special about actually writing it down that has so many educated and knowledgeable people excited about its power?

Goal setting involves the development of an action plan that is designed to motivate and guide a person or group toward a goal. One of the most successful business owners I know within our industry swears by writing down goals. He has made the practice a standard throughout his life. It’s important to mention that he wrote down his goals long before he created a big business.

A more famous example of the benefit of written goals involves Jim Carrey, who famously wrote himself a cheque for $10 million and post-dated it for a time in the future. At the time, this financial windfall seemed like a pipedream, but Jim carried this $10 million cheque in his wallet for over a decade.

It could be a coincidence that right around the time Jim had dated his cheque for cashing, that he received $10 million for a movie deal. Instead, it appears that the financial rewards came through the focus of Jim’s written vision and the steps that he took after making that commitment to himself.

Research at the Dominican University of California in 2007 showed a direct and substantial link between setting goals and future success.

Five groups of people were asked to approach goal setting in different ways, with the intention of learning about the effectiveness of different approaches to achieving goals. Group one was asked to simply think about the goal that they would like to achieve over the course of one month and to reflect on the importance of that goal. Group five was asked to write down their goals, reflect on their importance, write action steps, send their commitments to a supportive friend and report their progress weekly to their supportive friend. When the data was analyzed, group five had achieved 78 per cent more than group one did.

The value of setting goals is a relatively new practice. More recent studies were influenced by the work of Edwin A. Locke, who began to examine goal setting in the mid-1960s and continued to research the subject for over 30 years. Locke’s results clearly demonstrate that setting specific goals (I want to earn $500 more a month) generates higher levels of performance than setting general goals (I want to earn more money), and that goals that are hard to achieve are linearly and positively connected to performance. The harder the goal, the more a person will work to reach it. Not only should we write our goals down, but there is a lot to be said for dreaming big and mapping that dream.

At the time of the business seminar when the question was asked, “Do you have written goals?” I couldn’t raise my hand to say I had. Since that day, we have mapped out a strategic plan for our company and we immediately felt the positive shift that comes with having concrete goals. No matter how small or how huge our goals seem, one thing is certain, it pays to write them down. Jim Carrey agrees.
Dave Braun may be reached at dbraun@landscapeontario.com.