Motivation Articles

Goal-Tracking Tools

After Goal-Setting Comes Goal-Tracking

Quick, what’s the difference between a dream and a goal?

Any goal-setting guru will tell you that goals are dreams that you write down and track. Why? By writing down your goals, you're creating a "to do" list for your life, which is a powerful way to commit to achieving your dreams. Tracking your progress heightens the commitment, helping you see what’s important, identify pitfalls, find trends, and celebrate successes. You wouldn’t take a class or play a sport without measuring success in some way, whether by grades or keeping score, so why not invest similarly in your own life?

Tracking your goals shouldn’t be hard if you’ve defined them clearly and broken them into manageable tasks. If you haven’t done this, you’ll find out pretty quickly when you start to monitor your progress. Give yourself the freedom to pick the tool—or combination of tools—that works for you. Here are some creative ways to track your progress:

Habit-Enhancing Charts
Based on the concept that people establish habits after 21 consecutive days, you can design your own chart to help you mark daily progress. Include four brief headings: the habit you want to cultivate, your start date, your goal date, and the date you achieved it. Then include 21 slots, calendar-style, that you can mark off daily as you meet the goal. If you miss one day, start a new trial period. Keep your charts in your date book, on your desk, or as a bookmark.

Buy or Create a Goal Calendar
These can be large enough to hang or small enough to carry with you. Mark the daily progress you make towards your goals, and briefly note problems, challenges, and successes that you experience. You can also chart higher-level goals on a monthly, quarterly, or even yearly basis. Got kids? Get them involved by letting them decorate, post accomplishment stickers, and write encouraging notes. They’ll feel important in your life and love it!

Email Your Own Encouragement
Send yourself a daily email reviewing how you did yesterday and what you plan to do today. You can do this at the end of each day or even at the beginning of your day. Just seeing the current email in your inbox—or even glancing over it once or twice a day—is a powerful reminder that you want to accomplish something worthwhile. Filing or printing your daily email will give you a complete record of how you’ve done, and may point out areas for improvement.

Keeping a daily journal of your progress is a great way to review your challenges and successes. Include how you do and how you feel in regards to your progress. And remember, if this is your main tracking tool, you must do it every day for it to be effective. If you're short on time, develop your own shorthand system or template to save time, such as rating how you did on a scale of 1 to 5.

Report to a Buddy Daily or Weekly
Find a friend you can talk with briefly—online or by phone—to help track your progress in tackling your goals. Make sure you choose a positive person who’s willing to help and encourage. Better yet, find someone who has goals of their own and can use your input as they track their progress.

Your Current Planner or Agenda
Chances are that if you have a planner or daily agenda, you can use it to keep track of your progress toward goals. You can even set aside the same spot on each daily page to make notes, check off accomplishments, and outline next steps.

These are just a few ideas to help you start tracking your goals and progress. Remember that you can combine several of the tools (a daily calendar, for instance, summarized with a more-detailed, weekly journal entry). Just as you wouldn’t take a long trip without planning your route and watching the road signs, you shouldn’t expect to accomplish long-term goals without planning your journey and monitoring your progress. Create a roadmap to your success by writing down your goals—then track them to determine whether you’re chugging along, need to refuel, or should revise your route.

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Member Comments

  • Love these ideas...especiall
    y the habit enhancing chart, goal calendar and emailing encouragement to self. I just purchased the goal calendar from Amazon and will be creating the habit chart in the next few days.
  • No need to get fancy. I just got a notebook and each morning write my thoughts and goals for the day. Easy to spot trends and to keep on track.
  • I started bullet journaling to track my food, water intake, workouts, chores that need to get done, appmts, etc. It is better than a planner and is shorter and more concise than than a regular journal. You can find all kinds of ways people Bullet journal on line, I use a moleskin, it fits in my pocketbook and I can carry it everywhere. It helps me keep track of everything in one place. I have found to be helpful in organizing my life. I have accomplished tasks around the house, I put exercise in as an important part of my routine - I have lost 13 pounds since using the bullet journal and Spark People together.
  • I made myself a star chart. For every good behavior, I give myself a star. For example, I give myself a star for every day that I drink 64 oz. of water. If I get a star every day for a week, I get a bonus star. Stars can be redeemed for rewards that I've chosen for myself. I use it to track my chores, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and even work goals.
    I highly recommend goals on track. For just over $5 a month, at $65 you get a years subscription. Also, setting goals and enhancing ones optimism, success and happiness can be done for free at happify. There are 12 free tracks and for $12 a month you can attain all 30 lessons. Thanks for the great article.
  • Loooked up Mindbloom it is awesome
    going to download it to my phone and Ipad
    I love it
  • Here's a great, free, holistic goal setting site and game: Mindbloom--Life Game. http://www.mindbl .

    It has categories for all major aspects of life to keep in balance (finance, spirituality, relationships, etc.), it has a customizable goal board, it incorporates to-do lists that get points when marked off, points taken away when scheduled but missed, a social component to encourage others, and if you go to their page on your smartphone and click on "add app" then you can keep track of everything via phone. You can also "buy" things with your points/seeds similar to how SP allows you to use points to give goodies.

    Here's a great video they made to show how it all works:
  • Fantastic ideas here I will incorporate many of them
  • Grest article because it's great when you can talk with others going through the same thing you going through.
  • Here is a good FREE Goal Sheet that I downloaded


    Hope it helps you too

    PS- just copy and paste into your browser
  • Great article, very down to earth and achievable no matter if you are a beginner or veteran. I especially like the annalogy of planning a trip. I know how to plan a trip-we drove to Yellowstone National Park 2 years ago! We were gone 2 weeks. Without planning this would never have happened. I know how to track, but my fitness goals need the same kind of planning to be acheived. Right now they arent much more than wishes.
  • I actually incorporate 2 of these ideas. I journal daily. I call it my mood journal, but really it's to track any fluctuations in my mood. I think I might be bipolar, but first I want to try this type of therapy before I resort to other things, like meds. And my journal, is actually a Daily Planner. I plan on getting another one at the beginning of the year to track Nutrition and Fitness Goals, after the baby is born. But for right now, I'm just trying to track my moods. I also track exercise and fitness, although on a different site. I think I will start back tracking on Spark at the turn of the year as well, though.
  • Excellent article, usable ideas. No pie in the sky here.
  • The spark goal tracker is great, though another tool I enjoy using in conjunction with the spark tracker is joes goals.
  • Really dovetails into the features that Sparkpeople provides. Bravo!

About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

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