By Gladys Edmunds

Recently, during a family gathering, my nephew and I got into a conversation about goal setting. He says that he sets goals but rarely reaches them. As our conversation continued, I learned that he carries his goals in his head instead of writing them down.

I told him that when we set goals, whether written or in our heads, they should be reachable goals that we can see. And we need to plan by setting a step-by-step to-do list. For example, if the goal is to run a marathon and you have never walked more than two or three miles at a time, you can’t expect to roll out of bed on marathon day and run the race. A good place to start is to begin with a smaller goal of running three miles, and then moving on to successfully running five miles and continuing slowly until you reach your goal.

I told him the story about Grandpa’s to-do-list, which he kept in a pocket-sized spiral-bound notebook. Every evening after dinner his ritual was to sit at his desk, pull out his notebook and make a list of the things that needed to be done the next day that would lead him to one or more of his larger goals. He often said, “If I don’t write it down, it won’t get done.”

While talking to my nephew I recalled fond memories of my grandfather and the many lessons I learned from him, which have guided me in both my personal and professional life. Making a written to-do list for the next day is one of them. I also see it as taking short steps to larger goals.

My nephew studies piano; he answered several questions about how his instructor was guiding him. If he had plans to play a Beethoven sonata on the piano, he was instructed to learn and practice the scales, chords, and arpeggios associated with the sonata. These are short goals that lead to the larger goal.

The same is true of people in business. We need to set goals and set them in a way that allows them to become achievable. Writing out your plans and to-do’s instead of trusting them to your memory can help manage both you and your business in many ways:

  • A written plan makes your responsibilities more manageable and relieves you from trying to remember the details.

  • If you write it out and keep the notebook where you can see it, you are more likely to reach your goals.

  • Checking off items as you complete them will give a sense of accomplishment and make you feel good.

  • Meeting goals helps you feel more in control of your life.

It’s ironic to think that daily goals small enough to fit into a pocket-sized notebook could cause such a huge difference in many ways. My grandfather always accomplished what he set out to do, thereby creating a legacy for me. Without realizing it, by watching him, I learned to commit my goals on paper each evening, making achievement a daily reality.

I still use the old fashioned system of writing my to-do’s toward my goals in a notebook or on a tablet. But, there are also a number of apps that are designed to help you keep track of goals and to-do lists.

A written goal is hard to ignore.

At age 15 Gladys Edmunds developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.