As part of clearing out nearly everything we own from our house before the sale is final and we head out to travel the world, I came across several boxes of papers that I had stored away over the years. Since I am a paper aficionado--I can't pass up cute stationary or notebooks--and since I have had a habit of writing down "to do" lists and goals since way before GTD was popular in productivity circles, you can imagine how much paper I had to wade through.
Fortunately most of the paper is now filling up the recycle bin instead of being dragged along with us but the most interesting thing I noticed about many of the pages of notes and goals I had written was that most of what I wrote has actually come true!
There were pages of notes on how I would start a business and even a note from my mother with a clipping from a letter to the editor of New Woman magazine that I had written years ago about being inspired to start a business because of a contest they had run (I didn't win the contest). Everything I had written in the contest entry about the business I wanted to start actually happened. The odd part was after I entered the contest I tossed the application in a file and never looked at it again until more than a decade later yet my business turned out almost exactly like I had imagined it.
Then there were notebooks filled with my dreams of selling everything and traveling the world. Of course at the time there was no freaking way that would be possible. On my "to do" lists for this goal, which I had written maybe five to six years ago, was pay off debts--followed by a very LONG list of creditors and debts--and convince hubby to go with me. Also listed was "quit job", "have the biggest garage sale our neighborhood has ever seen", and "sell house for a profit to fund our travel." At the time I wrote this it seemed like an amazing dream, something I really wanted to do but never really thought would happen because of a thousand other things that were standing in my way including a great business that would be hard to leave, a hubby that likes stability, more debts than most people ever have to deal with, and just the overall difficulty that anyone would have with totally changing their life.
Until now. When I read those pages I nearly fell out of my chair! Again, almost everything that I had imagined and written down has come true. By hammering away at our debts we were able to pay them off. The universe brought me the difficulty of a sudden end-point to my business that I now think was a blessing in disguise. With my lack of income and the current economy hubby started listening to my idea to sell everything and travel which will actually save us money when compared to the amount of money we need for our current lifestyle (big house payments, the yard guy since hubby hates yard work, increasing taxes and utilities, etc). There were other goals that I wrote down that have come true as well.
I don't think all of this was coincidence. I think that by writing down my goals, it somehow gets the universe into alignment (and/or makes me more aware of certain things that correlate to what I want) which actually moves me towards achieving my goals. For example, I wrote down "get out of debt". Now anyone can write down such a thing but by focusing my attention on getting out of debt, Dave Ramsey was brought to my attention. By following Dave Ramsey's plan, I was able to get out of debt. I think if this wouldn't have been one of my goals and I had just given up and decided that I would always be in debt, I would have been less likely to pay attention when I heard about Dave Ramsey. I wouldn't have tuned into his show each night on Fox Business and listened to him hammering away on the travesties of debt for hours and hours each week, and then I wouldn't have followed his plan.
The moral of this story is WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS! Even if it is something small, like "get a tattoo", write it down. If there is something you have always wanted no matter how far-fetched, no matter how crazy, no matter how impossible, write it down. Meditate on it. Envision it. Write down a step-by-step plan on how to reach your goal (even if that plan sounds crazy as well), then take action!
Everything may not go exactly as you hope (when I wrote down "quit job" I certainly didn't envision the office I work for totally imploding, a federal investigation, and an overthrow of the Board!). Everything may not happen quickly (when I wrote those goals down I wanted them to happen IMMEDIATELY...it actually took years). And, your goals may change. You may find that your youthful desire to jump out of an airplane with a package of nylon strapped to your back gives way to, um, the realization that you hate heights and you hate being terrified.
No matter. With a list of written goals, you will be well on your way to achieving them.