In elementary, maybe middle school, I watched a segment on Good Morning America about the value of goal-setting and it changed my life.

The segment described social science research, I can’t remember the source, that said people who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them than people who don’t.

A graphic appeared on the screen showing the percent difference in goal achievement between those who write their goals and those who don’t. I don’t remember the percentage, but I remember it was high, and I remember it seemed like magic that if I simply wrote my goals I was so much more likely to achieve them.

When I entered high school, I set goals at the start of each semester, alone in my room, writing in a notebook. Straight A’s and extracurricular success topped my list of goals. Guess what? For the most part, I achieved these aims.

Goal-setting became harder in college. Appropriately, my aspirations broadened beyond straight A’s and although I still set goals at the start of each semester, my aims were less clear and I didn’t always achieve them. Being mindful of what I might want in life helped me, out of the creative destruction of college, I discovered I wanted to be a journalist, which led me to this here reporting job in Connecticut.

I’m nearly a year into the job and have set goals intermittently, but, with the coming of Fall and my internal clock forever on the school schedule, I feel compelled to write down my goals once again, and sought expert advice for how best to set, and achieve, my goals.

“If you have intentions in mind, you’re more likely to succeed. Goals are just a specific form of intention,” Dr. Brett, a psychologist and life coach with a practice in New Canaan, said. Indeed, as Dr. Brett pointed out, the success of goal-setting may derive not from magic, but the way in which sitting down to write goals forces you to become conscious of her dreams, and thus more likely to reach your highest aims.

“If you don’t stop to think if the things you’re doing every day are leading you to where you want to be, then you might always be wishing for that goal and not doing things that will get you there. It’s not about wishing, but taking the actions step by step to get you there,” Mica Diamond, a life coach in Westport, said.

If you set measurable, specific, and realistic goals and a plan of small steps for how to achieve them, then the momentum of completing each step will provide you with motivation to see the goal through to the end, Diamond said, adding that it's helpful to start by envisioning what it would feel like to achieve your goals.

In these last few weeks of summer, I plan to spend some time daydreaming about my goals, remembering what it was like to be a kid and believe in magic, and then write down my goals and work consistently to achieve them.

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2638; @SophieCVaughan1