“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.” Francis Bacon, Sr.
Being so far from home, we love when friends and family decide to visit. Over the weekend, a family member came to visit us, and we enjoyed numerous conversations about family, life, work, and faith. One conversation that stood out centered around company cultures and good leadership skills. Our visitor described what he loved about his company’s culture, and one of the things he mentioned was their emphasis on writing. At his company, they rarely use powerpoint for internal purposes, and employees must write out ideas, complaints, meeting agendas, etc before meetings. There is an importance placed on the written word.
This concept is not new. Many successful people agree that writing things down (goals, dreams, visions) helps them stay focused, motivated and results in a higher likelihood of achieving any goal. A Forbes article from earlier this year discussed a neuroscience study and concludes: “Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff” (-Mark Murphy, forbes.com). In fact, some studies suggest that the more you talk about your goals the less likely you are to achieve them.
Even the Bible mentions writing things down. As a Christian, this verse speaks to me:
Habakkuk 2: 2-3
Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
I’m a big fan of making plans and writing things down. As a child, I would cajole my younger siblings into going along with my plans which usually started with some mandate I had written down. In middle school, my dream was to go to Stanford, so I wrote it down and 10 years later I stood on a stage amongst fellow classmates as we graduated from my dream school. I wrote down the characteristics I wanted in a husband and God surpassed my expectations. I remember telling my mom all the things I wrote down that have come true including travel dreams I had as a child and she said, “I guess you should continue to write down your goals then!” It may not happen right away, but God did say “for the vision is yet for an appointed time.”
There are several things that I have found true when I write things down:
- More clarity: Writing forces me to focus on what’s important and brings a sense of clarity. While working at ESPN on special video projects, I would have many ideas swirling around in my mind, but I couldn’t make sense of them. As I started to jot down relevant thoughts or notes, more ideas would come and I would eventually pare them down to the best ideas that I could confidently pitch in meetings.
- Tempers emotions: Writing helps to process emotions. Sometimes when I’m angry at someone or sad about a situation, writing down my thoughts helps me articulate my thought when I discuss an important issue. If I write down my thoughts first, I know exactly what topics I want to bring up and can communicate or make better decisions by reacting with less emotion.
- Easier to remember: Writing helps me remember important things. I’m currently working on a few writing projects (see picture above). Sometimes I get ideas at the most inconvenient times (just as I close my eyes to sleep). At times, I’ve been so tired at night that I convince myself that I will remember the idea in morning. WRONG! That rarely happens.
- Better insights: Writing things down helps me reflect on past events, see how far I’ve come and gives me a sense of gratitude for all the things I’ve learned along the way.
- Commitment: Lastly, I find that if I write a goal or dream down, I tend to be more committed to accomplishing it. It reminds me to stay motivated and that no matter how small the steps I take each day, I’m still making progress!
Ok, I’ve written enough now. Time to start working on all of those goals I have written down!