Say It Out Loud, Write It Down

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As a writer, you’d think I would inherently appreciate the power of words. You’d think.

And yet, I have a long history of using words carelessly when I’m speaking in anger. I tend to lazily choose profanity over more descriptive words. And it took me forever to acknowledge that writing words down is a powerful tool for getting things done.

Every self-help book, goal setting guide, and productivity primer that I’ve ever read (and there have been many) preaches the gospel of writing down your goals and dreams.

But I was always too… I don’t know, busy? arrogant? embarrassed? too not quite ready to take that step.

“Yeah, yeah, write it down. Got it. Now tell me the next step.”

It just seemed kind of stupid, you know? Like when my algebra teacher used to make me “show my work.” I understood why other people had to do it, but my answers were right, so what was the point?

The first time I wrote down a goal was in March of 2010 when I decided to try the Body for Life workout challenge. I wrote down my goals and what I was doing to reach them every single day for 12 weeks. And it freaking worked.

The next thing I wrote down was my desire to quit smoking. Jared and I had decided to try Chantix and part of the system involved a website that walked you through goal setting and quitting exercises. Nothing I’d tried up to that point had worked permanently, so I decided to go all in and do whatever the hell the website told me to do – including writing down what I wanted and why I wanted it. Jared did the same thing.

Neither Jared nor I have had a single cigarette since May 1, 2010.

I started writing other things down. I put my budget on paper. (OK, fine, digital paper. Totally counts.) I made daily goals in the form of to-do lists. I wrote my dreams down and started making lists of little and big tasks that could help me turn those dreams into a reality.

And more and more of my dreams started coming true.

Even the really big and ridiculous ones. I’m moving into an RV in 5 days and traveling full time for a year with my family. That’s huge! That’s impossible. That’s a reality that started off as a “what if” conversation with my husband one Sunday afternoon less than a year ago.

I wholeheartedly believe that the reason this dream is coming true is because I wrote it down. And I didn’t write it on a dream board or at the top of a planning sheet. I didn’t buy a special book or spend a weekend crafting our mission statement.

I wrote it on the Internet.

It started with a tweet, and then it became a blog post.

And then it became an RV in my driveway and 5 more days until we head to our first campground.

I still have no idea why turning thoughts into words makes such a big difference. I don’t really care why. I’m just in awe that it does.

Are you ready to write your dreams down?

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