My successful friend Robert always talks about a study he read that links happiness to goals. The main point he took from this particular article is that people are happiest when working toward their goals; even more so than when they actually achieve them. 

It seems to be true, but there’s one thing his familiar motivational speech on seems to miss every time: The magic really happens when you take the time to write down your goals, when productivity and happiness collide. Here’s how writing down your goals increases productivity at work and in your personal life.  

What You Need to Know About Your Goals

Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching published an article on goal setting wherein they define the term as “the process of establishing an outcome (a goal) to serve as the aim of one's actions.” The benefits of goal setting include higher achievements and increased motivation. Those with clear written goals are more likely to succeed than those without.

Additionally, Harvard says that you may want to consider recording how you plan to get to the final destination. Those who write the “whys” and — more importantly — the “hows” of attaining their goals are more likely, over time, to internalize them and develop more “goal-relevant” skills. For long-term, measurable productivity spikes, be sure to write out what you want to achieve along with the steps you anticipate taking to get there. 

How to Categorize Your Goals for Optimal Productivity 

The next step is to divide your goals into two categories: 

  • Procedural Goals: Cross-situational strategies to help you achieve something, such as learning a problem-solving skill. 
  • Outcome Goals: Task-specific goals, such as creating 7 advertisements or sending an email to a certain colleague. 

The best way to promote self-efficacy and achievement is to combine the two. You will be most productive if you begin with procedural goals, and then shift the focus to outcome goals. So, rather than just focusing on one specific type of goal writing, combine these two in a way that shows development. 

Here’s an example: 

  • Research the available tools for sharing multiple files at one time, weighing the pros and cons. 
  • Choose a file uploader for the project


  • Find a course that covers all topics related to basic SMM marketing. 
  • Enroll in SMM course.

Being as specific as you can when writing out your goals, transitioning from the procedure to the outcome.  

Don’t Write Out Goals that are Too Easy

Research shows that challenging goals lead to personal growth. When tracking the progress of your goals, what you really want is to be able to see your progress. If you are simply writing out daily tasks in a way that is monotonous and uninspiring, all motivation and productivity go right out the window. The goals you set should really reflect the feelings you’re hoping to attain. 

So, set goals that are a little demanding of you. They should be realistic, but still inspiring. Look at examples of others’ work that influences you, and choose goals that make you feel energized. Your goals are a reflection of what you aspire to be and do; if they are mundane, your life will be too.  

Do You Already Write Down Your Goals?

When you write clear, concise goals, you will become more productive. Include the steps it will take to reach the finish line, merge both procedural and outcome goals, and set your sights high to stay motivated. Start implementing these ideas into your short- and long-term plan today.  

If you already write down your goals, share your advice or tips with us in the comments below. How did you successfully turn this practice into a permanent habit?

Eva Creerson is a student career and productivity consultant at Master Papers writing company. She is always on the lookout for new ways to optimize work.