As we roll into the fourth quarter of the year, you may be starting to consider your business goals for next year.

Given how 2020 has gone, maybe your primary ambition is to survive in 2021. Perhaps you’re going to create a recurring revenue stream or finally hire that general manager. Or maybe you’ve decided to start preparing for an exit.

Whatever your goals are, the most important thing you can do now is write down your plan to achieve them.

A Revealing Study

This point was driven home recently by a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology. The project was designed to see what impact stimuli would have on participants’ level of exercise. Researchers divided a random sample of participants into three groups.

For the first group, the researchers asked the participants to track how frequently they exercised. They were told to read a passage of an unrelated book before beginning.

For the second group, researchers wanted to measure the impact that motivation would have on their exercise levels. The second group was also asked to track their activity levels and were then told to read a book’s motivational passage that outlined the benefits of exercise for maintaining a healthy weight.

The third group was asked to read the same motivational excerpt as the second group but had the additional task of writing down their exercise goals for the coming week.

The Results

When the researchers sat down to analyze the results, they were surprised to find that among the motivated group (group 2), just 35% exercised once per week. That was slightly less exercise than group 1 (36%) even though they were motivated to work out.

When the researchers analyzed the third group’s exercise log, they were stunned to find that 91% of them had worked out. The only difference between groups 2 and 3 was that the third group was asked to write down their goals. That simple task seems to have almost tripled their likelihood to succeed.

The researchers concluded that motivation alone has virtually no impact on our actions. Instead, it is motivation coupled with a written action plan of how you’re going to achieve your goals that has the most significant impact on your results.

Food for thought as you start thinking about making 2021 your best year yet.