Updated: Feb 28, 2022
When setting goals, it is important to keep an eye on them. Otherwise, how will you know whether you’re on track to achieving them or whether you have veered completely off course. Goal tracking is one of the strategies to get you where you want to go faster. But how do you go about it? What is the best way to track your goals?
Create milestones and a task list
The first step is to plan of how you’re going to achieve your goals. Break your goal down into actions and give yourself deadlines along to the way to stay on track. These milestones can make a huge difference to whether you stay on track and how quickly you will achieve your goals.
Aiming for a goal that is a year or even further away can seem too far off to keep you on track. You might be thinking about your goal but at the same time remember that it’s a while away, so there’s nothing you need to do right now. If on the other hand you have a milestone due in 3 months’ time, with a list of tasks to achieve until then, you are much more likely to move slowly and steadily towards your goal.
Monitor progress regularly
Include your goals and your progress towards them into your weekly and/or monthly planning and reviews. When you check in with yourself at the end of the week or month to compare how the time went compared to how you planned it to go, you can check if you have made progress towards your goals. Have the tasks you have ticked off moved you closer to your goals? If not, make sure that you add those goal-oriented tasks to your to do list.
Set milestones as reminders in your diary and make sure you can measure whether you are on track. The M in SMART goals stands for Measurable – an important factor to know whether you’re on the right course.
Kanban boards are a great way to show progress visually. If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, here’s how it works. Kanban works best if you have a bit of wall space. Ideally put it somewhere visible to you at all times. You start with an empty board with 3 columns: To Do, Doing, Done. Put all of your tasks that will lead to your first milestone on sticky notes in the To Do column, one task per sticky note.
When you start a task, put it in the Doing column; once it’s finished move it to the Done column. Once all sticky notes are in the Done column, you (should) have reached your milestone. You can also use smaller version in your notebook or bullet journal or an online tool such as Trello or Notion if you prefer, just make sure it’s easily accessible and you are happy to use it regularly.
Set a reward system
Some goals are rewards in itself but it never hurts to make it even more fun and interesting. Did you have sticker charts when you were a child? These also work for adults, honestly! Whenever you finish a task that moves you in the right direction, give yourself a sticker. Once you have a certain number, you get a little reward. What the reward is depends very much on what incentivises you. This could be anything from cake to a new book or a massage. You get to choose, it’s your reward.
Gamification makes use of this trait that we humans have. We like to get little rewards which is why online games can be so addictive. Imagine you could plug into this to achieve your goals! How much more could you achieve? There are apps that have been specifically designed with that in mind.
I have found this article Get the Most in Life and Work with Gamification which you might find useful if you like this idea. It also has a list of apps that work in this way.
Using apps to stay on track
Apps are generally a very useful tool to keep you on track with your goals. Several apps have been developed that can help you with the whole process, from breaking down goals into tasks, setting milestones and keeping an eye on your progress. Here is a list of the 8 Best Goal Tracking Apps for 2022 (Free & Paid).
How can I help?
I have created two useful templates for tracking goals: one is an Accountability Planner which can keep you on track with 3 separate goals, the other my 3 Months/6 Weeks Sprint template which helps to keep an eye on those milestones. They are both available in my Etsy Store.