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.
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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.

Member Comments

  • 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. - 1/7/2016 10:34:57 AM
    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.
    Wes - 7/14/2015 4:42:26 AM
  • Loooked up Mindbloom it is awesome
    going to download it to my phone and Ipad
    I love it
    Meleana - 1/7/2014 1:57:51 AM
  • 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:
    872# - 11/9/2013 6:24:44 PM
  • Fantastic ideas here I will incorporate many of them
    - 8/19/2013 3:50:19 AM
  • Grest article because it's great when you can talk with others going through the same thing you going through. - 7/1/2013 9:19:13 AM
  • Here is a good FREE Goal Sheet that I downloaded


    Hope it helps you too

    PS- just copy and paste into your browser - 11/27/2012 11:06:21 PM
  • 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. - 11/5/2012 10:53:26 AM
  • 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. - 11/5/2012 6:11:33 AM
  • Excellent article, usable ideas. No pie in the sky here. - 5/4/2012 1:13:17 PM
  • The spark goal tracker is great, though another tool I enjoy using in conjunction with the spark tracker is joes goals. - 1/27/2009 12:35:48 PM
  • Really dovetails into the features that Sparkpeople provides. Bravo! - 10/13/2008 1:05:55 PM
  • Really dovetails into the features that Sparkpeople provides. Bravo! - 10/13/2008 1:05:55 PM
  • I'm trying to keep a written journal but only seem to get to it once a week. I love the idea of a shorthand system or at least giving the day a rating if I don't have time to write an entire entry. Great idea! - 6/9/2008 8:42:03 AM
  • Article was wonderful........
    I think in myself where I always fail is the lack of rewarding when I meet goals, that mentality of I need to be skinny to deserve it or when I hit a bigger goal then I'll reward myself. I have learned, even if its just a simple new pair of cute pompom or super fuzzy socks( I love love EVERY goal will be rewarded: )
    Goodluck everyone....((((H
    UGS))) - 2/14/2008 10:43:17 AM

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