The Power of Writing Down Your Goals: 9 Tips to Goal Setting

How To Set and Achieve Goals

So I was keeping up with the YouTube landscape and came across a video by The Gabbie Show. She’s a well known Viner who went on to Youtube and has obtained millions of subscribers.

She posted this goal-setting video on how to become successful on social media, and it blew me away for one reason.


She actually wrote down SPECIFICALLY what she wanted by the end of the year before she achieved:

  • 2 million followers on Vine
  • 500,000 on Twitter
  • to go on tour

She wrote down some of her goals before she had any followers.

Yes, there are plenty of influencers who get lucky or are just creative. But some use a system that involves the power of writing down your goals. Having followed Gabbie for a while, I was surprised when she said she always wrote down her goals. Because having studied TONS of successful athletes, businessmen, and artists, many have said the same thing. And seeing a casual YouTuber say how important writing your goals down is was the nail in the coffin for me that made it legit.

Ben Smith, the winner of the CrossFit Games, wrote down all his goals and crossed them off year-by-year. One of his goals was to qualify for the CrossFit Open, and another was to win the CrossFit Games. It took him several years, but he achieved both.

Jim Carey wrote down the amount he wanted to make as an actor on a fake check when he was broke.

This article will give you one of the many bone-chilling moments I love when studying successful people. That’s when I spot an eerie pattern that others miss.

This girl is a social media star and is probably not a self-development enthusiast. Maybe she’s read a few books about this topic, but the point is that certain behavior bubbles up to the top regardless. There are specific steps and actions you can take to really increase your chances of success.

Let’s break down how to write an effective goal…

Set A Specific Deadline

This is very important. Having no deadline pushes it off and lets you procrastinate indefinitely.

Napoleon Hill’s books are great for this. Unlike the other Law of Attraction books, this guy actually spent 20+ years studying the top 500 wealthiest people in the world in person to find out what they did right.

Part of the process requires that you define a specific deadline. Everything else I will list he also mentions. There are other things Gabbie does not say she does that I think you should do too, like subconsciously program into your mind like you have already achieved it. This perspective puts you in the right frame of mind to believe you can achieve it.

Plus, there’s a TON of examples of successful people who did just this to success: the billionaire Bill Bartman, actor Jim Carey, and the best-selling author and real estate millionaire Robert Kiyosaki.

Most people know about Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. I recommend his real manifesto Laws of Success. It is his true guide. Bruce Lee was a huge fan of Think and Grow Rich. He wrote down his declaration of his goals when he was a lowly martial arts studio teacher. See the photo below.

Be Specific With Your Goal

Being specific allows you to take small actions to move towards it.

In Gabbie’s video, she demonstrates that if you have a vague goal like “I want to be rich” or “I want to be CEO”, it’s so vague that you can end up doing nothing to move towards it.

If you just want to be a “CEO”, that is too broad.

You haven’t defined what industry, topic, company, or any bigger purpose.

It’s too broad to take any action.

If you knew specifically, you wanted to be a CEO of a mid-sized business in the media and fashion industry, it is defined enough to open your eyes to opportunities or for you to seek out things to do to progress yourself. Maybe an internship at a company like Nasty Gal.

How specific should you be?

Based on my studies, it seems like the best thing to do, generally speaking, is to be specific but loose enough to pivot or be open to other opportunities.

The founder of MindValley, a $100 million+ company, said he failed in his first 2 businesses with a very specific business plan but succeeded the 3rd time around with no business plan.

You may find another passion or goal that’s surprisingly more fulfilling on your journey: maybe a job title you never considered or introduction to a person that leads you into a whole new world. An example would be another social media platform you love more or a new love for IT or computer programming.

Many successful businesses were loose enough to pivot when things did not work out initially. Instagram started out as Burbn, an alcohol app. Sony started out doing all sorts of crazy things like failing at selling rice cookers.

There are people who have read hundreds of wealth and abundance books I know who are still struggling to get by. One of the issues they have is they don’t do what is said. The book says to be specific and write down those goals. If you ask them, they haven’t done it in 3 months.

Write It Down On Paper

How To Specifically Define and Achieve Your Goals

Taking the time to write your goals down on paper, not typing them out, separate the winners from the losers. Why? Isn’t typing faster than writing?

There’s a certain magic of writing it down. When you type it out on your phone or computer, you’re not paying as much attention to each word. You can tune out and make the task purely about copying letters. But with writing, it’s a more psychological experience that demands your attention.

Dan Lok explains in this video how master advertisement copywriters write out a winning advertisement or letter by hand over and over again because something crazy happens. You slowly take on the psyche and writing behavior of the writer. You understand what he or she will say next and how he thinks and writes.

Napoleon Hill says write it down, so get out a pen and paper.

There have been scientific studies supporting this. Read the books The One Thing by Gary Keller and Drive: The Surprising Truth To What Motivates Us for details.

One study tracked people who wrote down their goals versus those who didn’t. They found a very significant increase in succeeded for those who did.

Again, I highly encourage you to do your own reference checks because not everything you hear on the internet or in a book is true.

4. Find A Deeper and Better Motivation

If your goal is just “I want to be a CEO”, it’s clear that you are motivated by just money or status or fame or the rewards that come with it based on how vague it is.

That’s not a strong enough motivation to not give up.

You need something deeper to get you through the tough times when times get tough.

A weak motivation will lead to a mediocre output.

Many people want help on how to stay motivated. Often, the issue is that they don’t have a strong enough interest or reason to keep at it.

Extreme poverty can push someone beyond someone who has inherited money. The latter is too comfortable.

Someone who loves computer programming is going to succeed beyond someone who tolerates it and only is doing it for the money.

It allows them to keep pursuing it and spend more time doing it in their free time. It turns a chore into something fun, which makes it easier for that person to put in more practice time into it.

The entrepreneur Noah Kagan used to make tens of thousands of dollars a month with a Facebook app game. It didn’t last long because his motivation was weak. He did it simply for the money, and before long, he walked away from it because his heart wasn’t into it.

Since then, he has built two businesses that really have a deeper motivation: of helping and impacting every website in the world. It’s been even more successful and growing rapidly.

Two great books on this are: Start with Why and Drive by Dan Pink

Here’s my opinion and lessons learned from Start With Why after I read it:

5. Model Someone Who Has Already Achieved It

Find someone who is already where you wan to be.

Find someone who is doing what you want to be doing.

Figure out how they did it. Get information from them.

Read their books, their information, their videos, their interviews, and learn from them.

If you can, reach out to them somehow to learn more. It requires good social skills to do it properly, but that can be developed.

That’s an article for another day but the basics are to: be friendly, don’t be a leech, provide value, don’t just ask for stuff.

Some great books on this include: How To Win Friends and Influence People, and Never Eat Alone.

For creative and personality based careers like Youtube or blogging or music, there is a certain level of originality needed to stand out. Having said that, most things in life have a solid framework that are great guidelines for achieving your own success. Some of these things even apply for some the creative fields I just mentioned.

6. Walk It Back To Your Daily Goals

If you have 90 day or 30 day or 1 year or 5 year goals, walk it back to what you have to do TODAY and THIS HOUR to achieve that goal.

If your goal is to get your first job within 90 days, your 1 day goal might be to start researching jobs and apply to a few. That’s just an example. It’s not exactly what you should really do. Look to the best selling job search books or courses for details.

Stop Taking Advice From People Who Haven’t Done What You Want

Average people take advice from random individuals: their uncle Bob or friend, who are struggling to succeed themselves.

Don’t do this.

Others fall into a more nefarious trap: They take advice from people who are successful.. but not in the field they are pursuing.

I’ve seen this occur: People are in the soy bean business and are taking advice from a chess grandmaster or millionaire in website design.

There are tens of thousands of books by millionaires out there with advice, why have you latched on to this random guy? I wish this was just theory but I see it happen.

7. Surround Yourself With People You Want To Be Like

You are the average of the 5 people you hang around most

“You are the average of the 5 people you hang around most”

This saying has been beaten to death. At least it has in the self-development field I’m in.

I heard it all the time. It’s the most common phrase and a bit annoying.

But it’s true nonetheless.

That doesn’t mean you have to cut out old friendships. You should if they’re toxic and a draining relationship, but otherwise, you can keep them there.

But you can always look to add awesome people to your life.

Having said, this is one of those I struggle with and maybe you do too, despite it being one of the most common advice you hear.

The easiest, laziest way is to read articles, watch interviews, listen to podcasts, listen to audiobooks, and read books from these people. That helps immensely if you choose the right books but there is also a certain magic to in person meetings.

There are some things that are magical that you can only get from someone who you can ask specific questions to in person who has decades of experience. They can directly identify your issues or pull out things you couldn’t find in a book with real-life experience, especially in some fields like sports where book knowledge only gets you so far.

Also, more modern fields like social media don’t always work well with books or articles because they get outdated fairly quickly.

Now, for many people, it is tough to find and develop these relationships.

Here are things you should try, let me know if you have any others that have produced incredible results:

  • In-person clubs or activites. Use a website like to find like-minded people in groups (business, networking, finance, social media, etc.) Note: some of these will be failures as a lot of the people there might just be average people trying to network with you in sleazy ways. This doesn’t mean to not try though.
  • Conventions, expos’, and fairs. It’s a great way with connecting with thought leaders in the business. Examples include Social Media conventions like Vidcon, Vidsummit, or Buffer Festival. For personal finance, that could be FinCon. Budget your time as some of these may not be much help despite the money and time you spend. Don’t let that paralyze you from trying a few. Make sure it’s not you being bad with social skills.
  • Find a good career, start networking and making friends with people in that career.
  • Volunteer. There are numerous possibilities including entrepreneur-themed volunteering organizations. This is how Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Work Week first got his start interviewing successful people
  • Start making friend and get your friends to introduce you to 1 new successful person a month. Hold a networking get together. A great book on how is Never Eat Alone. This one is paralyzing for people like me who are socially shy but you can do it!

8. Learn From The Mistakes Of Others To Save Time and Money

This is probably one of the most overlooked or past over advice.

Yet probably one of the critical gems that I will take advantage of because of that.

Average people will say stuff like “Why read books?” or “Why should I learn from others mistakes when I can learn from my own? Man up!”

Rather than spending hours trying to convince them and failing, I have moved on to just trying to find people who get it. It’s a lot less frustrating.

This is HUGE in the business world. There are tons of books I have read where the author literally has wasted millions of dollars and years of his time to learn a lesson that he tells you in the book.

You have now saved yourself TONS of time and money by learning these golden gems.

Sam Walton did just this when he tried to get his store Walmart into malls before malls were a commonly accepted thing. He learned not to push things before he fully understood them and that you can be 10 years too early for certain things. I recommend his book Made in America, it’s one of my favorite business books. 

Jack Ma of Alibaba, the largest e-commerce website in Asia, learned a similar lesson when the internet was first created.

Ray Kroc learned a ton of lessons after being screwed over numerous times in real estate and business, and observing a real estate bubble. He definitely could have saved a lot of years if he learned these lessons earlier.

Eventually, he built the most successful real estate business in the world, McDonalds (yes, most people don’t realize McDonald’s is also in the game of real estate and they do really well). His book is worth the read as well. It’s called Grinding It Out. Click here to check it out. It’s really cool seeing how he came up with items we all know so well like the Filet-O-Fish.

The point is that you can save years of time and money by learning from other people’s mistakes. They have gone ahead and made them already.

Most people lie on the extremes: they don’t learn from anybody and do their own thing or they are too paralyzed by research to even get started. Don’t do this.

9. Help Others

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar is a successful author, salesman, and motivational speaker.

By helping others, you form bonds. They will help you back. They will introduce you to people. They will help you.

Don’t take this too far though. It’s not a good thing when people can sense that you’re only doing something to get something from them. This backfires in every field: business, networking, and dating.

Truly be a good person because you actually want to help others succeed. Find people you admire who you actually want to help to better do this.

Business is the exchange of values, items, and services that people are willing to pay for in exchange.


Do I agree with every little thing Gabbie says? No.

Did she miss out on a few things I would also do? Yes.

Regardless, it’s still good advice and I have further expanded on the details of what you should do in this article. (It took me a LONG time to write)

Gabbie says to keep hustling and moving ahead. I have seen millionaires burn out or miss out on enjoying life or time with their family because of this. I recommend finding a lifestyle and career that you love so much so that you can fit in the free time for things you should not forget to value. And so that work feels more like play than work.

Again, it’s not easy to do but so worth it.

To summarize:

  • Help others
  • Learn from others mistakes so you can save time and moeny
  • Surround yourself with the right people
  • Break down your goals to daily and hourly goals
  • Write done specific goals with a specific deadline on paper
  • Find a better motivation and the right goals
  • Find and model people who have already achieved what you are after
  • Be positive! :)
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By Will Chou

I am the the founder of this site and I am grateful you are here to be part of this awesome community. I help hard-working Asian American Millennials get rich doing work they love.

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