How are you doing with those New Year Resolutions? If you're like most people, they'll be falling by the wayside by now. It is thought that just 9 percent of us succeed with such resolutions. In other words, 92 percent  fail.

And it's not just at New Year we set goals for ourselves that we often don't achieve.

In 2013, I set out to write 500 words every single day for a month (even if they would never be published anywhere). I made it to day six before missing one.

And then I read Cialdini's Influence. I was expecting insight and research into what makes people persuasive. And I got that. But I also took away a simple tactic that has helped me me to achieve goals consistently since then.

In his book, Cialdini cites "Commitment and Consistency," as being key to persuasion. He references a number of studies and examples and one in particular struck a cord with me. He suggests that simply writing down what you plan to do makes you likelier to do it.

A recent study saw a reduction of 18 percent in missed appointments at a health center simply by asking patients to write their own appointments in the book, instead of having the receptionist do it. In other words, the patients writing their commitment to their appointment down correlates directly with an increase in them turning up.

I was cynical. It seemed too obvious. Too easy, even.

But it would require negligible effort to try, so I had a go.

Writing Down Goals and Micro-goals

I wrote down my intention to write 500 words every single day for a month. And then each morning of that month, I wrote down (on a post it note) that as a "to do" again and took great delight in checking it off every single day.

It was a new habit for me. No longer was I just writing down vague "to dos," to keep me on top of workload. I was writing down specific goals:

  • I'm going to get 10,000 unique visits on the blog this month

  • I'm going to get 20,000 unique visits on the blog this month

  • I'm going to drink eight glasses of water a day

  • I'm going to hit those 10,000 steps today

  • I'm going to have that analytics qualification by the end of the month

They're all examples of things I've written down. And each morning even now I write down the things I need to achieve that day. It's not a "to do," list. It's a list of goals. And maybe writing things down simply focuses my mind or ensures I don't forget. Maybe I could stop writing things down now and still get as much done as I do now.

But it's a habit I've gotten into. And I'm convinced it has made a difference for me in achieving "micro goals," and longer term goals alike.

It's so easy to get into the habit of this. It takes two minutes (at the most) of your day and might just mean you achieve more of your goals.