You can meditate, visualize, share and plot your big goals, but perhaps the best way to guarantee action is to simply write them down. Successful entrepreneurs from Richard Branson to Bill Gates swear by their notebooks, and there are many reasons why you should, too.
First, the brain interprets and internalizes things differently when they are written by hand. Multiple studies have compared people listening or people typing versus people actually writing. The pattern is that we are more likely to understand, remember and apply ideas we physically write down. The more we internalize an idea, the more likely we are to execute it.
Second, writing helps us edit our ideas. The physical act requires effort, so our brains automatically start thinking through the idea and begin focusing it down to its essence. Try explaining an idea to a friend out loud, then write down your same idea. It feels like an entirely different experience and it will likely be harder to write it down, yet be much more concise and thoughtful on paper.
Third, writing is the best way to hold yourself accountable. Keeping a notepad, journal or another physical memory reminds you of an idea you felt important enough to write down in the first place. It gives you a concrete way to know what ideas you may have let pass and those that, when you look back, are still worth pursuing. A written note will guarantee that you won’t forget the idea, too, and there are few things as frustrating as a potentially great idea that you can only vaguely remember.