If you’ve set goals this year and don’t know exactly how close you are to completion, this post will show you how to effectively track goal progress so that you can finally achieve the thing you keep coming back to.
It’s about that time of year isn’t it? When we realize there are only a few months left and that sad list of resolutions we made in January is sitting there, waiting for us to take action.
Believe me, I know how it feels. I was stuck in this cycle for many years.
I’d get excited about a new year, a new month, or a new Monday. I would decide on some pretty ambitious goals, only to give up when things got hard, and not even remember what my goals were a few weeks later.
It sucked! It was demotivating and it hugely impacted my sense of self.
I had given up on so many things I no longer felt capable of achieving anything.
A few years ago, I took a stand. I no longer wanted to be that girl that broke all her promises to herself. I began to take my personal growth seriously.
I had big dreams for the type of person I wanted to become — I still do — and I refused to let myself get in my own way.
I started researching personal development, success, and happiness like a maniac.
I read 18 personal development books over the course of 18 weeks.
I got really honest with myself about what I actually wanted out of life and developed a crystal clear vision.
I refined my annual, monthly, weekly, and daily goal setting process.
I built habits to increase and maintain my motivation.
And guess what? It has helped me become a disciplined, productive, and fulfilled individual with a killer zest for life and an unstoppable determination to crush my goals.
Cheesy? Maybe. But, there’s nothing quite like chasing your dream and feeling yourself getting closer.
That’s what I want to talk about today.
- Because you will not have a solid reminder of what it is you’re working toward
- Because you will run out of motivation when the finish line still seems so far away after so much work
- Because you will question whether you’re cut out for this when you can’t see tangible progress
- Because you won’t even know that you’ve hit your goal
The thing is,
You are fully capable of creating the life you crave to live.
And a key step in that process is measuring your progress.
In this post, I outline exactly what you need to set yourself up for success and start effectively measuring your goals today.
Step Zero: Do the pre-work
You have find goals that you are passionate about and set them effectively. You MUST get crystal clear on what you actually want your life to look and feel like, before you start working on or tracking any goals.
I outline the exact goal setting process I use with my life coaching clients in this post. You’ll learn how to set goals so well, that your life will become unrecognizable a year from now.
This post is all about tracking goals you’ve already set, so let’s get into the details.
Step One: Write your personal growth objectives in your bullet journal
I differentiate between objectives and goals.
Objectives are your values, how you envision your life, your big dreams. For example, my objective is to build a treasure-house of happy memories for my children.
Goals are the tangible strategies you will use to achieve your objective. For example, start a new fall tradition, spend one on one time with each child every week, or go on a winter vacation.
Actions are the things that need to happen to achieve your goal. For example, research the best winter vacation ideas, book time off work, book a flight, plan the itinerary, etc.
If you’ve done your pre work and have gotten crystal clear on what matters to you in your life, you should be able to identify the objectives you want to focus on this month.
Write these objectives down in one spot that you can look at often. I use my bullet journal for this. Right beside my cover page for the month, I have the personal growth objectives I am focusing on this month. They are are usually some selection of the 6 main categories in my life:
- Relationships (kids, significant other, family, friends)
- Hobbies & side gigs
- Finances (earning and saving)
- Health (physical and mental)
- Learning & personal growth
Your categories can be whatever you want them to be!
Write your objective for the categories you’re focusing on, and 2-3 actions you are taking to achieve that objective this month. For example
- Category: Health
- Objective: Be vibrantly healthy
- Goal: Run 10 kms
- Goal: Meditate for 150 minutes
- Goal: 30 straight days of the keto lifestyle
- Objective: Be vibrantly healthy
I leave a checkbox beside each goal so that I can cross it off once I’ve achieved it.
Every morning, as part of my morning routine, I review my goals for the month so that I can remember what is important this month.
Step Two: Schedule this week’s actions in your bullet journal
A month can go by all too fast, leaving our goals in the dust, if we don’t break them up into actionable items for the week. And not only break them up, but actually schedule them into specific time slots so that they happen, and life doesn’t get in the way.
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If you need more time to make your dreams a reality, this is the course for you.
Each Sunday, I think about what I want to achieve this week in order to meet this month’s goals. Then I schedule the required actions in the weekly spread of my bullet journal. Again, it doesn’t have to be a bullet journal, but put it somewhere close to your monthly goals, and in something you look at frequently!
This was a game changer for me. Taking Sunday to plan out my week and be proactive about how I spend my time has revolutionized the progress I am making in my life.
For my goal of running 10 kms, I’ll schedule three mornings of running 4-6 kms into my week.
I do this for each of my goals.
Then, I review the day’s plan every morning when I first wake up, which prevents me from ever forgetting what I intended to do and ensures that I make measurable progress each and every day of my life.
Sound exhausting? It’s not.
If you want to get really crazy, color code your bullet journal according to the category of your goal. Then you can quickly visualize how much time you are spending on each area of your life, and ensure your goals are balanced.
Step Three: Reflect on the day’s accomplishments
Taking the time to celebrate the little victories on the path to a massive goals gives you an edge.
- You reward your brain by letting it know the hard work was worth it.
- You reward your mind by showing it that when you say you’ll do something, you mean it.
- You increase your motivation by seeing that discipline pays off.
- You remind yourself why you’re in this in the first place, by watching yourself get closer to your dream.
People that are goal oriented tend to take very little time to stop and savor their accomplishments.
Don’t make that mistake.
At the end of every day, use a minimalist journal spread to track your goals and other small habits you want to maintain. This prompts you to reflect on your performance that day and celebrate your victories.
How to set up a minimalist bullet journal spread for tracking your goals
You draw one square for each day of the month.
All around the sides of the square you use symbols that represent various goals. For example, a green circle in the top right corner means I achieved my goal of eating healthy. The same circle with an X through it means I did not.
Currently, I have symbols for
- Walking my dog
- Practicing gratitude
- Speaking calmly to my children
- Showing my husband I love him
In the middle of the square is space for you to write down one thing you want to remember that day for! Such a motivation and mood booster to reread at the end of the month. It helps you remember all of the fantastic experiences you had.
I can see whether I maintained my habits simply by looking for the green circles on the page. If I want to examine how frequently I exercised, I look for the letter E on the outside of the square.
This method of habit tracking allows you to easily reflect on your performance.
Also, you can start to see patterns emerge. Maybe you’ll detect that you can eat healthy for 3 days before you cave in, which gives you a tangible and realistic goal to work on next month (ie. eating healthy 4 days in a row). Maybe you’ll see that the days that you exercise, you end up eating well, and the days you do not, you cave on food too.
The data we collect helps us learn our behaviors so that we can target improvements where they’re needed most.
I personally tend to forget what happened yesterday and am often in awe of the great month I had when I take the time to jot down one thing to remember each day for.
So, to sum up, you can get started with minimalist journaling by:
- Defining the goals and habits you’re implementing, and determining which symbols you will use to denote them.
- Drawing 30 or 31 squares for the month.
- Each day, marking the symbols for the actions you accomplished.
Step Four: Reflecting on weekly achievements
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gottenTONY ROBBINS
At the end of the week, it is essential to take the time and assess whether you showed up the way you intended to this week.
Reflect on your objective for the month and the goals that you had set to get there
- Are you on track to hit them?
- Did you accomplish what you had scheduled that week?
- What went well with your personal growth work?
- What needs to be improved next week?
I move anything that didn’t get done to the following week, and adjust the following week’s goals to make up for this week’s slack. It’s a good chance to analyze whether there is anything that you can take off your plate in order to make room for the goals that matter most. I often get caught up in doing things that could be done by somebody else while I use my superpowers for good, so this helps me delegate.
I use my journal to write all of this free-form, and then I go back to my bullet journal to set my goals for the following week.
Step Five: Reflecting on monthly achievements
At the end of the month, I review my objectives, and the actions I had set out. If I completed the action, I check it off.
Then, using my journal, I answer the following questions
- Did these actions allow me to achieve my objective?
- Am I satisfied with my results, or does this objective needs to be a focus next month as well?
- For example, gaining control of my mind might not be a one month goal. It might show up every month this year, with different actions that help me get better and better. Don’t think that after just one month of work, you’ve completed your growth in one area.
- What got in the way of my personal growth this month? How can I mitigate against this next month?
- What areas do I want to focus on next month?
- What are my objectives, and key actions for next month?
Reflecting on the month’s objectives helps me identify whether I am living my life intentionally.
Did I do what I thought was important to me? How can I keep doing more of that, and letting less get in my way?
Step Six: Take inventory of what you’ve done
Have you heard of a done list? It’s basically the opposite of a to-do list, and allows you to see how much you were able to accomplish in an extended period of time.
We often overestimate what we can do in a month and underestimate what we can do in a year.
Taking the time to look back on all of the freaking things you’ve managed to accomplish in the past 6-12 months fuels your belief in yourself, and the knowledge that you can get to your goals.
Maybe it took you 3 months instead of 3 weeks… Although you will feel defeated when 3 weeks go by and you aren’t there yet, you will be so dang proud when you look at what you accomplished in 3 months, because with this goal tracking system, it will be a lot.
With hedonic adaptation we get so used to our improved circumstances. Don’t pass up the opportunity to remember where you were a few months ago, and how far you’ve come since then.ANA MCRAE
Tracking your goals doesn’t have to be hard. The only thing you need is a consistent routine that gives you time to check in with what you wanted to accomplish, and a notebook or two to house your thoughts and plans.
It’s not rocket science.
The 6 simple steps to tracking your goals are:
- Set objectives for your personal growth
- Break them down into goals for the month
- Write them down and review them every day
- Schedule actions into your week
- Cross things off when you complete them
- Reflect on your performance and pivot as needed
But as is so often the case in life, it’s simple but not easy.
- It can be hard to find the time to think about what you want to accomplish this month.
- It can be hard to find the time to go and accomplish those things.
- It can be hard to face yourself when you fall short of your intentions.
- It can be hard to get back up and try again when you fail.
For all of these reasons, a life coach is the best investment you can make if you want to remove the roadblocks between you and your dreams, and catapult your momentum.
When you set good goals and you have an easy but reliable process for tracking your progress, you are well on your way to success.
The key here is consistency: repeatedly keeping your goals front and center and doing what you can to get closer to your dreams.
Once you’ve got your goals, and a solid action plan to reach them, it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.
When we have big dreams, they can seem so far out! Our brains can have a hard time associating the tiny action we’re doing today with the big picture we want to see in 10 years.
Measuring our progress day by day, week by week, and month by month, allows us to feel that sense of accomplishment which fuels our motivation to keep going!
How do you track your goals? Do you notice a difference in what you achieve when you write things down compared to when you don’t?