Write It Down, Make It Happen Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Write It Down, Make It Happen is a simple guide to help you accomplish your goals through the act of writing, showing you how to use this basic skill to focus, address fears, and stay motivated.

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One of the internet’s biggest problems is how easy it is for false information to spread. Worse, that false information, once mainstream media have accepted it as true, gets cited and reinforced over and over again. Case in point: the claim that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. Dig a little, and you’ll find it’s unlikely to be true.

It’s easy to imagine that most people don’t achieve their resolutions, but pinning down such a specific number without proper evidence is dangerous. Similarly, it makes sense that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them, but it’s hard to say how much it helps. But today, let’s focus on the fact that it does.

In Write It Down, Make It Happen, researcher Henriette Klauser explains how you can use this technique to achieve what you want in life. This includes not just the initial act of writing down your desires, but also some of the science behind it, as well as other writing techniques to help you on the way.

Here are 3 lessons I picked up from this book:

  1. If you’re specific when you write down your goals, you’ll activate a part of your brain that helps you focus on them.
  2. You can discover and overcome your unconscious fears and doubts through fast writing.
  3. Work on your smaller goals first and tie your big ones to a good cause, in order to stay motivated all the way.

Haven’t tried writing down your goals yet? Failed on your resolutions before? Let’s see if Dr. Klauser’s ideas can help!

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Lesson 1: Be specific when writing down your goals to activate your RAS.

Spread throughout your brainstem is a wide, complex web of connected neurons called the reticular activating system, or RAS for short. It is one of the oldest parts of our brain and takes care of several basic, but essential biological functions. In essence, what it does is prime your subconscious to focus on certain triggers over others.

It is the RAS, for example, that gets parents of a newborn to wake up at the slightest noise the baby makes, yet allows them to sleep through an airplane takeoff as long as their child remains quiet. If you’ve ever started noticing something more often after a friend pointed it out to you, like a certain kind of car or piece of clothing, that’s your RAS at work!

When you handwrite your goals down on paper, you’re activating your RAS and telling it: “Focus on these things!” After you’ve done so, your brain will begin to handle incoming requests, information, and messages differently. Everything gets filtered based on how much it helps you move closer to your goals. Cool, huh?

Lesson 2: Use rapidwriting to uncover hidden worries and concerns, and overcome them.

When a Jewish person calls you a ‘kvetch,’ it means they’re annoyed by your constant whining. But what may start as incessant complaining can actually have a bigger purpose: ‘kvetching’ is also a way of talking out your negativity until you’ve got your feelings back in order.

Writing can help you accomplish the same thing. Plenty of obstacles might stop you from taking the next step, but, sometimes, they’re not obvious. In this case, you can use what Klauser calls ‘rapidwriting’ to discover and solve your problems at the same time. Once again, all you need is pen and paper.

To start a rapidwriting session, think about your problem for a few minutes, then start writing down your thoughts. Don’t stop, don’t edit, and don’t worry about whether what you write makes any sense. Eventually, once you’ve made it through all the negative parts, you’ll inevitably start dabbling in potential solutions.

When you feel you’re done, stop, take a break, then read everything again. You’re bound to spot at least a few starting points for cracking your problem!

Lesson 3: To motivate yourself for your biggest goals, achieve small ones first and add charitable outcomes.

A great way to pay down all your debts is to start with the smallest one and work your way up the ladder. Since you’ll finish the first one quickly, you’ll speed up getting an actual result, which will inspire you to tackle the next, bigger problem. With our goals, this dynamic also works.

Instead of tackling a big goal, like publishing a novel, first, and getting stuck in the frustrating middle, start small. Try to self-publish an essay, then aim for a published article in a magazine, then a short story, maybe. Each little win will unlock a psychological boost of energy, which you can then use to take on bigger things! Klauser says the goals don’t even have to be related, as long as the amount of effort needed is in the right order.

Another thing you can do to inspire yourself is to add a charitable component. Let’s say you want to make $10,000 on the side this year. Well, what about using $1,000 of those to buy one-dollar glasses for those, who need them? Now, 1,000 people stand to benefit too if you succeed! In fact, they depend on it, which should really help keep you accountable.

Write It Down, Make It Happen Review

The ideas in Write It Down, Make It Happen are simple, but work. If you’re looking for a good how-to on goal-setting that doesn’t get lost in theory and uses lots of practical examples, look no further!

Who would I recommend the Write It Down, Make It Happen summary to?

The 22 year old college student, who makes lots of resolutions, but fails to see them through, the 38 year old suburban mom, who complains a lot to her friends, and anyone who quit working on their last big goal too early.

Last Updated on August 16, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!