05/29/2013 08:25 am ET Updated Jul 29, 2013

Write, Visualize, Do

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I sit at the wooden desk in my bedroom, tapping my right foot as I peel open my notebook to a clean page. I cradle my favorite pen in my fingertips and lean forward, poised, ready to jot down the thoughts that have been building up like plaque in my brain. I've always been a believer in setting goals. In the past, though, I've been able to achieve my goals just by writing them down and didn't have to remind myself of them on a regular basis. However, as my goals grew more complex, they pushed me to make bigger leaps out of my comfort zone. The completion of each goal required more patience and dedication; scribbling a few New Year's resolutions was no longer sufficient. I finally decided to make a change to my goal-setting strategy. Rather than setting goals once a year, I would write down my goals as often as once a month and visualize myself achieving them. Ever since I began these new practices, I've been thrilled with the results. In sharing these strategies, I hope they will help you advance with confidence in the direction of your goals.

Write. Begin by writing down at least five significant goals once a month. Perhaps you prefer to write your goals in a private diary or maybe you'd like to hang sticky notes on the mirror in your bedroom; wherever you decide to write them, just make sure they're easily accessible to you. As you write, push yourself to elaborate on each goal: Be specific about what it is you're striving for and how you envision yourself getting there. For example, if your goal is to get better at staying in touch with friends and family, narrow down the specific people you want to talk to more, the best way to keep in touch with each person and how accomplishing this goal might improve your well-being as well as the well-being of others. Writing is transformative. By writing down your goals, you're legitimizing them and making them more tangible. But if you continue to let your ideas spin around in your head, they will remain abstract, muddied by your other thoughts and therefore easily ignored. Transcribing your ideas on paper is like a dissection of your brain -- as you extract your thoughts, you're forced to understand them in their purest form. Ultimately, writing down your goals will help you internalize their meaning and come to terms with next steps and execution.

Visualize. After writing down your goals, you may already start to feel a sense of relief -- you finally pinned down your ideas and you're aware of the work that needs to be done. As often as possible (aim for once a week), re-read your list of goals. Find a comfortable chair, bed or couch and close your eyes. Treat this time like a short meditation session as you focus on breathing deeply, slowing down your heart rate and clearing your head. Then begin imagining yourself doing, being or seeing whatever it is you have written down. Observe yourself in the act of achieving these goals and note your self-confidence. Pay attention to how the realization of your goals makes you feel and how others are impacted. By practicing visualization and revisiting your goals often, they will stay fresh in your mind and you'll be more likely to achieve them.

Do. Now it's time for you to get out there and put yourself to the test (yes, this is the hard part). If your goals are big enough, though, it's not feasible to achieve them in a few days. Continue to remind yourself that the fulfillment of your goals will take time, energy and relentless positivity. If you take these practices seriously, I'd be shocked if you didn't see any progress. Write, visualize, do, repeat (and don't forget to smile along the way).

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