The Benefits of Writing Down Your Goals

For almost three years now I maintain a set of documents where I explicitely write down short- and long-termed personal goals plus some general facts about my current life situation. I call it my "life analysis". I update minor issues about once a month and start a new version approximately every three months. Working on that document is like zooming out and having a look at the bigger, overall picture of my life and maintaining this explicit statement of goals has enormously increased my general focus and perserverance.
For instance, about one year ago I saw a Groupon deal for sky diving. Even though the idea of jumping out of a flying airplane in 4000m altitude gave me the chills, there was pretty much no excuse to let this opportunity forgo as it was explicitely stated on my goal list.
Even though I feel no urge to do it again (I had nasty problems with earpressure) I feel proud that I did it. I doubt though, that I would have done it without the reminder of my list.

You might have experienced that it is easy to state some goal and then to neglect and forget it again (take for instance all the good old New Year's resolutions). Especially if there is plenty of effort involved (i.e. learning a language) or some kind of anxiety to overcome (i.e. sky diving), then there is lots of subconcious pressure to neglect that goal. However, once you explicitely write it down, you are regularly reminded of your lack of progress unless you start tackling it. Just like a to do list whose pending items are a continuing annoyance.
If you make yourself accountable, it will be easier to bring up the effort to tackle those goals that you conceived in your better, highly-motivated moments.

Additionally it gives focus. Once you start to ponder about your dreams and motivations regularly and come up with some conclusions, your perspective becomes clearer on what brings you closer to your dreams and ideals and what is just a waste of precious time. I feel there is nothing wrong with enjoying a lazy day in the park or hanging out in bars if that is what gives you meaning. But maybe you find that these activities are actually just time fillers that stop you from fulfilling your dream of getting the biggest milk-bottle collection in the world!

Lastly, I imagine that when I'm older, it will be extremely interesting to have a look back at different stages of my life through this life analysis - similar to the old-family-photo-album experience. Therefore I also recommend to attach some current pictures of yourself to the first page.

So in case this sounds like a good idea to you, below is a file that can be used as a base structure and a second one filled out with some examples as a guide how you could write it. The only cost to maintain the list is a little time once a month and the advantages seem manifold: First and foremost increased awareness, focus and motivation regarding your personal goals.
Don't expect to complete the list with your goals on the spot. Every once in a while new ideas for worthwhile goals will come up. Just make sure to note those somewhere immediately before you forget them again.

life analysis base structure

life analysis example