This Simple Writing Exercise Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

mbg Contributor By Emi Boscamp
mbg Contributor
Emi Boscamp is the former News Editor at mindbodygreen. She received a BA in English and minors in Spanish and Art History from Cornell University.

The bridge between having dreams and actually realizing them, according to one researcher, is just a little bit of writing.

University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson recorded what happened when 700 students did a short writing exercise over the course of two years, reports Anya Kamenetz over at NPR. Students were asked to think about important moments from their past and then, with those memories in mind, write out a plan for achieving their goals and strategies for overcoming obstacles.

What he found was shocking: "ethnic and gender-group differences in performance among the students had all but disappeared" after two years.

But how could such a simple exercise have such a profound effect on academic performance? Kamenetz offers a possible explanation:

Peterson believes that formal goal-setting can especially help minority students overcome what's often called "stereotype threat," or, in other words, to reject the damaging belief that generalizations about ethnic-group academic performance will apply to them personally.

It's powerful to be able to learn from the past, identify obstacles, and set goals — to really know what you want. But don't underestimate the "act of writing," Peterson tells NPR, as it is "more powerful than people think."

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