February 11, 2016

Goal Tracking Tools & Tips to Make You a Goal Achieving Pro

Achieving your goals is a whole lot easier with goal tracking. Learn how to keep track of your progress and modify your goals as your life changes around them.

In the final part of this Stop Dreaming, Start Doing! series, you're going to learn about some useful tools and effective tips for your goal tracking needs. In our previous articles, we've talked you through the importance of dreaming big! The need to transform your dreams into concrete goals. Plus, ways to keep you motivated as and on track to achieving your goals and living your best life.

If you’ve been along for the ride so far, your goal-setting abilities should be on point. And, you should be moving closer and closer to finding yourself living your wildest dreams. But where to from here? What should you do after you set a goal and start making progress to reach it? Simple. You need to track it.

Goal Tracking: Why do I need it?

Talking about goal-setting and not going into detail about tracking goals would be a mistake. Doing so would be akin to combining all the ingredients to make a cake and placing it in the oven, but never taking a quick peek to see how it’s coming along.

What if the heat was too high, or an adjustment to the recipe meant things weren’t baking as they should? You wouldn’t want to hear the timer go off and pull out a dry, charred confection, right?

Self Check-ins or Group Check-ins

Think of goal tracking as much the same. Design a system and adopt a habit of regularly checking in on your goal progress. Regular check-ins could be daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or quarterly (at the least). These check-ins can also be done with just yourself or in a group with others which can prove to be very effective. For instance, as Jason Freedman writes in his post on the 42Floors blog, such group check-ins helps to "provide social motivation and structure."

Keep on track

It's, however, totally up to you. Whether you prefer a self-check-in or a group check-in do whatever works to keep you motivated, accountable, and progressing forward. Remember, above all else:
The purpose of goal tracking is to help ensure, no matter where you are, you stay focused and you’re heading in the right direction.
That way, when you cross the finish line (or take your cake out of the oven) it’s all that you’d ever hoped it would be!

Goal Tracking: How do I do it?

There are plenty of ways you can track your progress. While computer spreadsheets are great, some people prefer to do it the old-fashioned way with paper and pen. Whatever works for you, write your goal at the top of the page then, list all the smaller action steps you’ll take right underneath it. Then, each day, week, or month, revisit the list to cross off the action steps you’ve completed to see the progress you're making towards your goal.

Goal Tracking: Tools

For anyone not technologically-inclined, here are a few apps that can help you manage and track your progress:
Each of these apps has varying pros and cons to their use. Read reviews and specs to learn which tool will best suit your unique needs. You can also look for other goal-setting tools by visiting your phone’s app store or doing a search on Google.

Changing Paths During Goal Completion

As you gain more experience in certain areas of your life, it's entirely possible for your ultimate dreams and desires to suddenly change. Therefore, a useful aspect of goal tracking, often overlooked, is to see whether your current goals still align with your core values and priorities. Research published by PsycNET, for instance, shows that when we develop goals that match our core psychological needs (i.e. personal values), progressing towards those goals leads to 'greater happiness and life-satisfaction.'

For example, let's say Joe, a graduate with a Business Major, set a goal to establish himself in a career with a reputable corporate. It may very well be, however, after meeting with a volunteer from a non-profit organization that helps to build schools for children in developing countries that Joe has a change of heart. Somehow, Joe is more compelled by purpose rather than profit. As a result, Joe chooses to modify his goals to become involved with a NFPO.

What if I Change My Mind?

If you change your mind or a change in heart strikes you, it simply means you will need to change your goal and the required action steps to help you achieve it. Change or no change, again, make sure to get introspective and assess yourself every so often. Monthly is probably best. Ask yourself: "do my goals still properly reflect my interests and priorities?"

Celebrating Your Success

Goal tracking isn't all about checking in on your progress. It's also not just about making sure you're on the right track. Nor is it just about ensuring you're heading in the right direction. Equally important, goal tracking is a way for you to celebrate success. The success of the small accomplishments, that keep you motivated and lead to the big prize.

Celebrate Small Wins

Celebrating the small wins along the way is a fabulous way to keep yourself on track and feeling awesome about yourself! When you think about it, these smaller accomplishments are the puzzle pieces that make up your big goal – so be sure to give yourself credit and be proud of the progress you've already made.

In his post, published on SelfGrowth.com, John Steely explains the power of celebrating success. Using milestones (small wins) as proof towards greater success. Milestones, as John explains, are useful to help celebrate and "fuel your efforts". Meaning, not only does celebrating small wins help to keep you motivated but, it also serves as a way to see the progress and benefits of the work you've put in.

So, make it part of the plan. Regularly take a moment to acknowledge those small wins that happen along your journey. Whether it be that you indulge in some unboxing, a dinner out, or spend time at the beach, make it part of your goal tracking success plan.

A Tool for Self-Growth

Finally, goal tracking provides the benefit of a solid foundation necessary to make progress and move forward. Think of it as a tool. A type of 'measuring stick' if you like. As you progress towards your goals, use it to aid and assess your development. To measure and acknowledge your growth in a way that positively contributes to increasing your sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem.

See alsoPersonal Goal Setting: A Simple 3 Step Guide.

Get in the Game!

There you have it, the ultimate guide for students and young adults to transforming your dreams into actionable goals! Keep in mind; it’s not enough to just set your goals and tackle the necessary actions you’ve mapped out. You also need to commit to measuring and tracking your goals so you can determine whether you’re still headed in the right direction, or if you need to make some changes to those goals based on new information and experiences.
All great accomplishments begin with a single step
It's now time for you to take that first step towards achieving the next milestone and celebrating that first small win. Remember, being able to reach milestones and celebrate small wins will energize and inspire you to feel more confident and capable of reaching your bigger, overall goal. So now that you’ve got the tools – go out there, get in the game, and make your life the one you dream of living.