Has Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser been sitting on your reading list? Pick up the key ideas in the book with this quick summary.
If the story of your life was a novel and you, the novelist, how would your story start? After all, you are
the author of your own story, even in reality. Imagine if you took that metaphor literally, and started listing everything you’ve ever wanted in life, writing those goals down on paper.
This book summary will explain why that’s not simply a crazy metaphorical idea. In fact, pinpointing your dreams this way can actually help bring them closer to reality.
It’s amazing the change that can happen to your life once you start writing these dreams down.
In this summary of Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser, you’ll learn:
- how a self-written check earned Jim Carrey his first $10 million;
- why silver Toyota Yarises are the most common car; and
- how learning to ride a unicycle can help you learn French.
Write It Down, Make It Happen Key Idea #1: Reaching your goals starts with writing down exactly what it is you want.
Most people’s goals in life are only vague ideas. Their goals are usually to make more money, to get a better job, to have someone to love, or to have the chance to travel.
While you might fit into this category of a person with vague dreams, it’s important to be precise if you want any of your dreams to turn into a reality.
Being specific means going from saying “I want more money”and instead saying, “I want to earn enough money to open a restaurant.”When it comes to love, you have to be specific in the type of person you want. List out all the details like whether you want someone who’s funny and kind, or whether or not they want kids.
These specifics sound extreme at first, but in order to actually reach your goals, you have to have a set path to work toward, so you don’t get side-tracked.
Once you know for sure exactly what it is you want, physically write it down on paper.
Writing down our dreams is no new idea —many incredibly successful stories started this way.
When Jim Carrey was just an aspiring actor, he wrote himself a check for $10 million. Not too many years later, he was earning $10 million for each film he did!
Football player Lou Holtz didn’t just have one goal—he had 107, and wrote each and every one of them down on paper. He did this in 1966, when he was 28 years old and unemployed. His goals included meeting the president of the United States, coaching a football team, and making a hole-in-one in golf.
Amazingly, 50 years later, Holtz has fulfilled nearly every one of these goals. On his website, there are pictures of him shaking hands with not just the president, but the Pope too, as the coach of the football team at the University of Notre Dame and winning the 1988 national championship, and, as for his luck at golf, he’s managed to hit not one, but two hole-in-one shots – so far.
When your goals are very specific like this, it unlocks so many opportunities for success. You still may have some doubts about how this can truly work, so let’s look closer at the power of putting pen to paper.
Write It Down, Make It Happen Key Idea #2: You can change the way you think to recognize opportunities to help you get closer to their goals.
See if this sounds familiar: your mother calls to to tell you she’s finally bought herself a new car –a silver Toyota Yaris. This surprises you —you’ve never heard of this car before.
The next day, though, as you’re driving around your city, you start to see Toyota Yarises everywhere, and most of them are silver, just like your mom’s! How is this possible?
Your brain has a filter, known as the Reticular Activating System
, or RAS,
and this is it at work.
The RAS is what sharpens our attention, and it can be primed to notice, or ignore, certain things.
New parents are super familiar with the RAS working all the time, which allows them to sleep through traffic noise, and yet still wake up at the slightest cry from their baby. This is due to their RAS being biologically focused to hear when their child is in need.
The same brain function is working when you hear your name called in a crowded room at a loud party. Even though you’re surrounded by all sorts of loud noises, you’ll notice this specificity and all of a sudden, a conversation that was just background noise a second ago with enter your attention.
The RAS can also help you to reach the goals you’ve written down. When you write your goals down, clearly defined on paper, you’ll prime your brain and it will begin its unconscious work toward your goal.
Once your goals are written down, your RAS will constantly be on the lookout for anything that might help you reach this goal, from messages to information. So, once you have it down on paper that you want enough money to open a restaurant, you’ll be primed to overhear someone at a party who’s talking about the fact that they used to invest in restaurants, which is something you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
In the next section of this book summary, you’ll learn how to work past the fears that might be preventing you from realizing your dreams.
Write It Down, Make It Happen Key Idea #3: Writing down your fears as well as your goals is a great way to acknowledge them and start working past them.
The RAS is a helpful part of our unconscious, working to get us closer to our goals.
Alongside our goals, though, we often have unconscious fears as well, and, by doing the same thing as with our goals, and writing these fears down on paper, it becomes easier to recognize and conquer what obstacles may stand in your way.
For aspiring writers, the unconscious fear that might stop them from writing that book is the fear of being rejected by a publisher. Due to this fear, many writers will only send their work to a small number of publishers and then give up hope when those two or three rejection letters come back. Because of this, they’ll start to believe they aren’t good enough right from the start and think that they should stop trying to be a writer.
If they’d realized from the beginning, though, that they had a fear of rejection, this running away from their goal might not have happened. If they had recognized this early on, they’d know that a few rejection letters is really only a small setback. They would also have in the back of their minds that esteemed writers like JK Rowling received dozens of rejection letters before her book was picked up.
Writers aren’t the only ones who have a fear of rejection and criticism. So many people have those exact same fears, and that’s the reason a lot of us put our goals aside. When we ignore our fears, it sits inside us, where it festers and takes over, keeping us from being creative or even having the confidence in what could happen come from your goals in the first place.
Writing these fears down can ensure this doesn’t happen, but you have to be as precise as possible in recognizing your fear, so that they start to lose the power they have. Once you start to do this, you’ll start to truly see your fears for what they are —obstacles, and be able to work past them from the start.
In the next section of this book summary, we’ll look at other techniques that will help you to work past these problematic fears.
Write It Down, Make It Happen Key Idea #4: Use rapidwriting to work through mental blocks.
Once you’ve identified your fears, you’ll be able to move forward to dealing with any extra concerns that come with them.
A technique called rapidwriting is a great way to rid yourself of these worries. Rapidwriting is explained in full in one of the author’s other books, entitled, Writing on Both Sides of the Brain
, but at its core, rapidwriting is used to reach into the deep and hidden parts of your brain.
As the name suggests, rapidwriting is quick writing without stopping, which helps you to get past a problem and work through mental blocks. With rapidwriting, it’s essential that you don’t look at what you’ve written, and just keep writing as much as you can.
Although you may start off writing something like “This technique is stupid and I don’t know what to write,”after a few lines, you might find yourself expressing deep truths, as you force yourself to get words onto the page.
Rapidwriting is very similar to the Jewish tradition of kvetching
, or talking about feelings with the goal of getting rid of negative thoughts and anger. What may begin as an angry complaint will end up with you figuring out a solution to your problem.
Often, the same conclusion happens after a session rapidwriting. After writing a few pages of any hidden negativity, a solution might soon appear on the page.
One of the author’s friends, Nan, told the author about how she was stressing over a “desk audit,”which involves one’s boss coming to your desk and listening as you defend the importance of your work.
Anyone can understand why this might be stressful, and so Nan prepared for her desk-audit by rapidwriting. What began as, “I can't believe this is happening, after all my time here . . .” became three pages of examples about how vital she was to the company and how her work contributed to its financial success.
There are plenty of tools to help you to get past any mental blocks, so now it’s important to learn what you can do to keep your focus.
Write It Down, Make It Happen Key Idea #5: As long as you learn to be flexible, you’ll be able to reach your goals, despite any road blocks that get in your way.
Even though it may seem like it contradicts the concrete goal-setting you’ve already done, being flexible is a huge part of staying on track.
A good way of looking at your goal is to see it as an airplane en route to its destination. In reality, in order to avoid bad weather or other airplanes, 90 percent of the time, a plane will have to veer slightly off course before reaching its final destination.
However, just because a plane has to change directions slightly, it doesn’t mean the pilot is any less focused on reaching the destination. The only difference is that, in order to get there safely, the pilot has to be flexible in the route.
It’s important to use this same philosophy to make progress toward reaching your goals. You’re going to hit road blocks in your life, so when something unexpected happens, it’s important make sure you stay focused.
For example, let’s say you’re apartment hunting. To start, you set your budget and write down everything you’re looking for in your new place, such as that you want it to have two bedrooms, room for a garden, and for it to be in a location close enough to the shopping district that you can walk there. Since you’re already being as specific as possible, you’ll be able to filter out every apartment that doesn’t have these features.
Now, what if you found the perfect apartment, with all of these features, but it comes with an unexpected surprise —it’s near a railroad track.
Although being close to the train will keep the apartment way under your budget and the train really only goes by twice a day, this negative might stand out more to you than all the positives. And even if the train truly doesn’t bother you all that much, you might still worry about how other people will react.
Something like this can easily get you off the path toward your goal and make it so you start worrying about someone else’s dreams instead of your own.
This is why it’s important to ignore any fears about what other people might say and focus on what would truly be best for your goals
Write It Down, Make It Happen Key Idea #6: A great way to motivate yourself to achieve your goal is to start small and align your goals with the greater good.
It’s nearly impossible to eat just one French fry. Even if the fries aren’t all that great, after you eat one you’ll be tempted to eat more and more – and this same thing happens with achieving your goals too.
When you achieve a goal, it gives you a psychological boost that will motivate you to keep making goals and working toward them.
The best way to start working toward goals, really, is to start small, and then work up to the biggest goal. So, if your dream is to swim the length of the English Channel, maybe start with some smaller lakes and work your way up to your dream so that you can get stronger and build up more confidence while you do so.
Also, your goals don’t have to be related to each other for them to build off each other. Simply completing one goal will help you complete the next one, even if they have nothing to do with each other.
The author’s friend Edna once saw someone riding a unicycle on television and this convinced her to learn how to ride one herself. Sure enough, after a lot of hard work, she was eventually unicycling to school. Because she was able to accomplish this goal, she was able to accomplish more and more difficult goals, such as her goal to learn to speak French.
Another way to motivate yourself toward your goal is to have a goal that helps the greater good, so you aren’t just working on something only for yourself.
This doesn’t mean you have to completely change your goal, but it might mean rethinking how meeting a personal goal can also benefit your community or society as a whole. For example, if your big goal is to publish a novel, instead of stopping at getting it published, you can make it your goal to donate a portion of the profits from the book to your favorite charity.
By adding this sense of altruism, you’re adding a big motivator, since you’re not the only one now who will benefit from you achieving your goals.
Write It Down, Make It Happen Key Idea #7: The power of fire and water can be used to your advantage.
The primal power that resides in fire and water can still help us succeed, even if these elements are much older than pen and paper.
Water is a tremendous source of creativity. Julian Jaynes, an influential psychologist, pointed out that we often make our most groundbreaking discoveries while we’re in bed
, in the bath,
or on the bus
The author is the most impressed with the second of the three B’s: the power of the bath, mostly because of how many poems, myths, religious tales, and paintings focus on the power of water.
While it might seem coincidental, it was not simply by chance that Archimedes said his famous “eureka!”that led to Archimedes’principle as he was stepping into the bath. He was influenced by how he noticed the water level rising as he entered the bath, and realized that you could use water rise to measure the volume of an object.
Just as water is a cleansing property for the body, it’s important to note that simply being around a body of water can influence and cleanse the mind, thus promoting creativity.
Fire, on the other hand, is often used in rituals that work to give power to your goals. For example, Native American tribes have used fire in their rituals with this intention for many years. At the start of a new year, some tribes will build arrows out of sticks and feathers, each arrow representing a specific hope for the new year. The arrows are then burned as a way of offering their hopes to the universe.
This ritual does an amazing job of helping them to set clear and precise goals for the future and making it easier to see these hopes turn into reality.
It’s easy to conduct a similar ritual by writing down three goals you want to achieve on paper along with three things you want to rid your life of. Then, find somewhere safe to light the paper on fire and, while it burns, give a powerful intention to what it is you want.
Now that you have all these tools at your fingertips, it will soon become very easy for you to turn your dreams into reality.
The key message in this book:
With the right mindset, no dream is too big. Too often, we let ourselves be too scared to actually accomplish what it is we want. These fears, though, can be put aside by taking time to write down what it is we truly desire and using these methods to unlock our powerful subconscious mind to set us down the right path. The simple act of writing our goals down is a powerful one that is actually quite similar to praying, and can turn us into a magnet for the things we most desire from life.
Start your day off by writing down your intentions.
Each morning, it’s smart to take some time to write down what it is you want to accomplish that day. This isn’t a to-do list, and shouldn’t contain things such as doing laundry or going shopping. The purpose is to guide you emotionally and spiritually through your day, such as having the goal to “be the best mother I can be.”Starting your day with intention will help you to stay grateful and positive as you move throughout your day.