Over the past several years, I have developed the (somewhat) regular habit of writing down my goals on a daily basis.

Writing down my goals is probably the single most powerful practice I have discovered for creating change, both in my internal world — spiritual, emotional, and mental — and my external environment. When I write down my goals, I feel more positive and more in control of my life, and it is easier for me to deal with stress. Goal-setting is a powerful practice for a number of reasons. The following tips will help you learn more and show you how to do it effectively.

10 tips for setting powerful goals

1. First of all, you have to write your goals down, and you have to do it on a regular basis (ideally every day). This programs your goals into your subconscious mind. To learn more about how and why this works, I highly recommend an audio program called The Psychology of Achievement by Brian Tracy. He explains how, by programming your goals into your subconscious mind, you will trigger your brain to work on your goals even when you aren’t consciously thinking about them. I like to write my goals down right before I go to bed, so my subconscious mind can think about them while I sleep. Or you can write them down every morning so you can start your day off on a positive note.

2. Always state your goals in the first person: use the word “I,” followed by an action verb. You can program only your own subconscious mind; you can’t affect the actions of others. So instead of writing “My boss appreciates me more,” try stating your goal a different way, such as “I work in a positive, supportive atmosphere where I feel valued and appreciated.”

3. Write down your goals in the present tense. For example, instead of “I will lose 50 pounds this year,” write, “I weigh (x number of) pounds.” If you use the future tense, you are in effect telling your subconscious mind that this will happen someday in the future, and it will always remain in the future. But by stating your goals in the present tense, your subconscious mind will accept this as a command and begin to look for ways to make it happen now.

4. Always state your goals in a positive manner. For example, do not say “I have no debt.” Your subconscious mind doesn’t understand negatives, so all it will hear is “debt,” and “debt” will continue to be your reality. Instead, phrase your goals in a positive way, such as “I am financially abundant.”

5. Be specific. Saying “I am successful in my career” doesn’t give your subconscious mind anything concrete to work with. What does being successful mean to you? Be as precise and detailed as you can. For example, you might write down “I am self employed and I have full control over my schedule and the type of work I take on.”

6. Focus on the end goal and don’t worry about the how. If your goal is to earn $100,000 a year, simply write “I earn $100,000 a year.” Let your subconscious mind figure out how to make this happen. It will start looking for opportunities to make your goals a reality.

7. Set both short-term and long-term goals. What can you accomplish this week? This month? This year? It’s important to have a clear image of the bigger picture and to identify the smaller things that will take you further on the path towards achieving your long-term goals.

8. Give yourself due dates. These can always be changed if they turn out to be unrealistic, but it’s important to have a time frame to work with.

9. Write down your goals without looking back at what you wrote the day before. This will allow you to see how your goals change over time.

10. Take a few minutes every day to visualize the life you want to be living. If your goal is to work from home, see yourself working from home – how would you start your day, how would you feel, what would your energy level be like? Allow yourself to experience these things as if they were really happening. Visualization is a powerful force for creating change in your life.

Here’s an example of how this has worked in my own life. Several years ago, I saw an ad in an issue of Yoga Journal for a nature retreat in Costa Rica called Samasati. I was initially intrigued by the Caribbean wedding package they offered, as I was engaged at the time. Unfortunately, a Caribbean wedding was not in the cards, but I became obsessed with the idea of going on one of Samasati’s yoga retreats. I was just starting a career as a freelance writer at the time and wasn’t earning enough to pay for the trip, but I started writing it down every night as one of my goals: “I am going on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica.”

After a while, my mother, quite unprompted, raised the idea of going on a yoga retreat to Costa Rica. I showed her the packages available on Samasati’s web site. She said she would pay for the retreat if I paid for the airfare, which sounded like a good deal to me. I had some money set aside for paying taxes at the end of the year, so I decided to wait until I filed my taxes and then figure out how much more I would need to save for the airfare.

Shortly after, I saw an offer on Groupon for a Costa Rica vacation. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the Groupon was actually for a 5-night stay at Samasati. And, the price for 2 people was less than half of the regular price for one person. I was easily able to pay for it out of my savings, and my mom ended up picking up the airfare instead. And just like that, our Caribbean yoga retreat was booked. This amazing vacation, which had once seemed like an impossibility, was actually happening.

That was two years ago, and our week at Samasati was one of my all-time favorite experiences. Even better — we’re going back in July, this time with my husband and stepson.

Write down what you want to see happen in your life. Do it every day. Believe you are worthy to receive it. Good things will happen.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”