It is important to hand-write your goals on paper, the action of writing them helping to imprint them on your brain. However, before writing them - be they material, emotional, or spiritual goals - identify what price you are willing to pay to achieve them. At some point, expose to yourself your barriers and excuses, and confront them, writing them on another piece of paper. This list is not intended for you to dwell upon, but merely to show your acknowledgement. Compliment yourself and celebrate as you conquer each barrier or excuse.

If you are finding it difficult to decide on what you want, you could consider the advice of Michael Losier in his book, The Law of Attraction. He suggests listing what you don't want as a prelude to making your definitive list of what you do want. Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for The Soul says, "Once focused on the positive, you act as a magnet, to attract those things you hold in your mind."

You may have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable/agreed, Relevant, Timely. My colleagues and I have created an alternative set of guidelines for you for formulating effective statements of goals:

  • Make your statement of goals, or goal statement, succinct, positive, and in the present tense, use action and emotional words, and avoid negative words, future tenses, and comparisons. To understand why it must be positive and in the present tense, consider your powerful subconscious mind. Highly literal, processing in images, and with no concept of time, the subconscious mind operates only in the NOW, and does not recognize or act upon the use of future tense such as in "I will..." Since there are no pictures for such negative words as not, never, won't, it just ignores them. In "I am not attracted to chocolate cake," the subconscious only processes "chocolate cake", so a better wording would be "I love foods that contribute to my body's health and vitality."
  • Make your goal statement realistic, and also make sure that it is slightly stretching, so that you have to push yourself just a bit.
  • Make it specific, but allow flexibility in measuring and assessing your level of success. In being specific, avoid comparative words and too-vague statements like "I am more disciplined in my work assignments." To the subconscious, the word more may be anywhere from .0000001 percent to 100 percent more. So be specific. Celebrate each of your accomplishments, even if not 100 percent of what you planned. In the book, The One-Minute Manager, the authors counsel that if you're off course, don't jump ship, just do a course correction. Use any slip-ups as opportunities to learn.
  • Make your goals be measurable. If you can't gauge how well you're doing, how will you know that you're actually successful? Ensure that you pick a target date. So that you can pace yourself and recognize your achievements at specific points along the way, break your overall goal down into bite-sized modules, chunking-down by subject, time, place, or resource.
  • Once you've established your mini-goals, create action plans for as many as you want. This is so important, as without an action plan, all you have is a wish-list.
  • Announce or share your goal with people who will be supportive. This emotional investment puts your reputation on the line.
  • Finally, In Your Face. Write out your goals, cut out magazine pictures, or draw them yourself. Paste and post the images all over your world, including your bathroom mirror. Keep it in your face and at top-of-mind.

Most people don't set long-term goals, let alone write them down. Some fear failure and criticism if they are less than 100 percent successful. Others don't know how to set goals. The vast majority do not appreciate the value of setting goals. The benefits of written goals are simple. They provide direction, momentum, and motivation.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Brian Walsh is a clinical hypnotherapist and a specialist in accelerated learning. He helps people in their quest for personal empowerment by promoting brain-friendly strategies using his workshops, videos, teleclasses, books, and his self-hypnosis audio CDs.

He is the author of the bestseller Unleashing Your Brilliance and a contributing author to 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. His website is