You need to use a goal tracker. Period. If you have any goals in your life, you need to be tracking them. You need to have a system for checking in to make sure that you are moving in the right direction.
If you don’t, guess what will happen?
Wednesday will roll around like it always does and you’ll think to yourself… hmmm… I feel like I’m supposed to do something today… I can’t remember what though… Oh, what’s that? A box of donuts and reruns of The Price Is Right? I’m in!
When you don’t have a means for tracking your goals, you are going to neglect them.
Instead of training for your upcoming triathlon in October, you’ll be stuffing your face with donut glaze and Drew Carey. Which is fine, and there’s certainly a time and place for it, but that time and place isn’t now.
Right now is for your goals. Drew can wait.
You need to keep track of your goals
As of this writing, I have 11 goals. Some are new, some I’ve been working on all year. Some are habit goals and some are achievement goals (more on that below). So can you imagine how chaotic my life would be if I didn’t have some means of tracking them?
I wouldn’t even be able to get dressed in the morning. I’d be stuck in bed trying to get my:
- Reading goal finished
- Kettlebell swings completed
- And my QuickBooost posts updated
But good news! Here I am writing this to you. Not from bed. Not in my pj’s. I am fully dressed and taking charge of the day. And I attribute that to two things – planning and my goal tracker.
A note on habit and achievement goals
As I mentioned, there are two types of goals you can set and I use both in different capacities:
- Achievement goals
- Habit goals
I’ll start with the former.
Goal tracker – Achievement goals
Achievement goals are probably the kind you are most familiar with. Achievement goals set a target for some distant point in the future. And then with that target set, you work towards reaching it.
So for example, some achievement goals are:
- I will run a marathon by June first.
- I will read 30 books by December 30th.
- Or I will start a business by February fifth.
Goal tracker – Habit goals
Habit goals, on the other hand, aim to help you build a new habit into your life. Where achievement goals work towards a fixed location in the future, habit goals are normally completed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Some examples of habit goals include:
- I will run for 30 minutes a day, four days a week.
- I will read 20 pages a day, three days a week.
- Or I will write 1000 words for my blog, every other day for a month.
It’s relevant, I promise
Now you may be thinking – Who cares! You’re off on a tangent, Corey! This has nothing to do with goal trackers! And to that I say, first off, what’s with the attitude? And second, it’s relevant and here’s why.
If you don’t have some means for keeping track of your goals in real-time, you will seriously struggle to achieve them.
Just like our donut-eating, Drew-Carey-watching example from before, you too will find yourself spending time on something that isn’t related to your goals. Which is alright if your goal is to waste your time, but if you actually want to attain something meaningful, you need to be deliberate about what you do.
You need to check in with yourself and your goals often.
You need a way to keep yourself on track and focused on what matters most to you. And that’s where having a goal tracker comes into play.
Can I get away with free goal setting tools?
Now, here’s the truth of the matter – you don’t need anything fancy. Please don’t spend your time researching the best goal setting apps or goal tracking tools or even a goal tracker journal or goal tracker app. Don’t spend your time on a course that promises to show you how to use some new software. Don’t waste your money on a subscription for a product that you’ll never use.
They’re not necessary.
Facebook ads and sponsored Instagram feeds will tell you that you need their fancy new whatever. That your goals will be doomed without them. Are they really though?
In fact, I’d argue that you’ll probably waste a great deal of time trying to figure out how the tool actually works. You’ll spend hours getting the colors just right, the various buckets in the right place, the formatting set up just so.
But guess what? That’s time that’s not being spent on your goals.
Which isn’t a diss on those companies. I’m sure they’ve worked incredibly hard to create something useful. And I agree that design is important and I love companies that do it well.
But that’s not the point.
When it comes to your goals, you need something simple. A system that is flexible and won’t get acquired, changed, or go out of business just as you’re getting used to it. Because when you build something that is reliant on the hot startup of the day, you run the risk of creating something that may change completely or disappear tomorrow.
Which is the opposite of what you really need.
Make things magically happen
In other words, you don’t want something flashy. You want something reliable. Something that both works and allows you to use it time and again to achieve your goals. And that’s what I’m going to show you how to create.
But first… I need to mention something important… If you’ve struggled to achieve your goals in the past, this post isn’t going to help you.
What? Are you serious?
Well… ya… obviously. Just because you write your goal down doesn’t mean you’ll actually achieve it. You can read how I came to terms with that sad realization right here. The gist though is that there’s a lot that goes into goal success and creating one goal tracker won’t just make things magically happen.
It will certainly help, but goal achievement is surprisingly complex. There are many parts to it. The actual goal tracker creation is straightforward, but the accomplishing side of things is much more challenging.
Do this alongside your free goal tracker
So, all that to say, if attaining goal success is something you’ve struggled with before or are currently muddling through, please let me help. I have a goal success course specifically designed to help you achieve your goals.
I also offer one-on-one goal coaching that guarantees results.
And I know I just said a minute ago not to spend any money on a course. But this is different. In my goal success course, I’m not teaching you some new app or platform. I do show you what I use to set my goals, but that’s just to give you an example.
More than anything, my course teaches you a system. One that you can do on a piece of paper or a notepad or a Google Doc. I’m not covering some product that may become outdated or disappear. What I’m teaching is timeless and is, therefore, worth the investment of your time.
But I’m biased. So you can make your own decision by learning about my course here and my coaching program here. If anything else, you can watch the explainer videos on each page and hear what I actually sound like.
With that, let’s get back on track.
You’re on a different path
What’s the point of the goals tracker then? Especially if it won’t directly help you achieve your goals? To keep you organized and focused.
Look, you’re driven. You’re persistent, motivated, and all those other adjectives, right? You want something out of life. Wasting your existence on something mundane is not in your plan. Right? Or am I totally off-base?
Because non-driven people aren’t looking up goal trackers right now. They’re off watching Netflix for the twelfth day in a row. Non-driven people aren’t setting goals. Only driven people, like you, care enough about their future to make a plan for it.
To decide that tomorrow will be better than today will be better than yesterday.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
The steps to create powerful goal trackers (goal tracker ideas)
You need a goal tracker because you are so driven. How many people do you know with just one goal? I can’t think of any. And I talk to a lot of people about their goals.
People normally have a lot of goals. At least two. Maybe three. Often a lot more.
Take me for instance. I have 11 goals that I’m actively working on right now. And you are probably in that same position. Maybe you don’t have 11 (because 11 is excessive. What am I trying to prove, anyway?). But maybe you have four.
And with those four goals, you need a way to keep track of them so that they:
- Remind you what your priorities are
- Help you stay focused
- And give you the means to measure your progress
If you want to get results from your efforts, you need to track them. I’m now going to teach you how to create a goal tracker of your very own (it’s straightforward to do!). However, if you’ve noticed, I’ll also give you the opportunity to download my personal goal tracker template throughout this post as well.
Create your goal tracker
- Decide where it will live
- Write down your goal
- Write down your why
- Add any notes
- Set up progress reports
- Bonus: Get my free goal tracker template
Goal tracker – Decide where it will live
I’m all about creating simple systems. And goal tracking is no different. So know going forward that what I will show is intentionally basic. Because you want to let your results do the talking. Not the shiny app full of neglected wishes and wants.
Enough ranting. Here’s what to do.
First, and this is a very easy step, you need to decide where you want your goal tracker to live. Do you like notebooks? Stationary? Do you want a google sheets goal tracker? When making this decision, consider that you’ll need to:
- Reference your goal tracker often
- Make changes to it frequently
- And will need to keep it close by
Personally, I use Google Docs. I try and do as much online as possible, so creating a digital goal tracker was the obvious choice. In the past I’ve also tried Evernote and Excel but have found Google Docs to be the best fit.
So again, the first step in creating your goal tracker is to decide where you want it to exist. Decide on that and move on to step two.
Goal tracker – Write down your goal
From here on out, I’m just going to assume you are also using Google Docs for your goal tracker. It won’t make a difference in how to apply the instructions. I just don’t want to have to keep writing out the different places (ie. Notebook, Excel, pad of paper, napkin, you get it). So Google Docs will be the placeholder, but again, you can use anything.
Alright, so the next step in creating your goal tracker is to write down your goal.
Keep it brief.
One sentence max.
If you aren’t familiar with the best kinds of goals to set, I recommend reading this first so that you avoid the common goal setting mistakes. And if you don’t already have a goal in mind, which seems unlikely but I should still touch on it, you can get some ideas right here.
And with that, go ahead and write down your goal. It should look a little something like this (I’m using one of my actual goals as an example).
Goal tracker – Write down your why
Once your goal is written out, the next step is to write down your why. Your why is the reason that you want to achieve your goal. It’s the reason that the goal is so important to you and how it makes you feel about your future.
When writing yours out, imagine someone asks you: Why is this goal important to you? And then you in response say: Because X. That reason, X, is your why. It should be short but telling. Like a solid sentence or two.
Here are some examples.
Goal tracker – Gardening
- Goal: Plant a lemon tree by September first.
- Why: I’ve always dreamt of having a lemon tree and making lemonade with my very own lemons. This will help me make that a reality.
Goal tracker – Painting
- Goal: Spend 45 minutes a day, seven days a week painting on a canvas.
- Why: Painting fills me with excitement and passion. I want to ensure that I spend time doing it each day.
Goal tracker – Sales
- Goal: Email 50 potential clients a day, five days a week.
- Why: To grow my business, I need to make client outreach a priority.
Why the why is so important
Writing down your why may feel silly, or lame, or that you don’t need to because you’re “going to remember it.” I hear that last one a lot by the way. They never remember it. And that’s the reason why you need to write down your why!
Because honestly, achieving your goals is not an easy thing to do. It’s a struggle and is one that I know all too well.
When you’re two months in and feel exhausted, you need your why. When you’ve had a tough day and don’t feel like going for that run, you need your why.
Do not skip this step
Your why is a reminder. Yes, it’s there at the beginning to help you clarify your reasoning.
But more importantly, it’s there to help you when you feel lost, stuck, or unmotivated. At some point, you’ll find yourself in a dip with your progress, and when you do, you can look at your goal tracker once again and remind yourself why that goal was so important to you in the first place and why you should keep going.
So take a few minutes and really reflect on your why.
Write it down, internalize it, and move to the next step. At this point, your goal tracker should look like this:
Goal tracker – Add any notes
The next section of your goal tracker is for any notes you have. Anything you need to:
- Point out
- Keep in mind
You can do so here. There’s not much to this section. Simply, anything you want to note regarding your goal, this is the place for it.
To give you an example, here’s what your goal tracker could look like with notes:
Goal tracker – Set up progress reports
The final step in establishing your goal tracker is to create a progress tracker or progress report section. Now, this section will look different and will vary depending on the goal you set. At its core though, this section is for recording the completed actions that you’ve taken for your goal.
So for example, let’s say your goal is to read two books a month.
As you go about working on this goal, you will keep track of each completed book in your progress report section. Each time you complete a book, you will write it down here. Or let’s say you want to publish five blog posts by the end of the month. Each time you complete one post, you will note it in this section.
Here’s another one. If you have a goal to run a marathon by October first, you can record how many times you run each week, or how many miles you run each day.
A couple of reasons
Why is this section important? For a couple of reasons. First, it allows you to look back and see all the progress you’ve made. Seeing that progress will make you feel inspired by your efforts and will encourage you to keep going.
That excitement will also carry over to your other goals as well.
Because as you make visible progress with one goal, you will want to start doing the same across the board. Thus allowing you to build even more confidence and gain even more momentum for your other goals.
Second, seeing your progress in the form of this “visual goal tracker” will urge you to keep going. Through what has been called the Seinfeld Strategy, as you add more completions to this section, you will start to feel responsible for the goal.
You won’t want to break the chain and fall short. So, you’ll keep going. You’ll keep putting in effort so as to keep your success streak running.
Progress report examples
One question that you may be wondering is how often to update this section. There really isn’t a specific answer to this. As I touched on a moment ago, it really depends on the goal. Let’s look at the examples from above in more detail.
Goal tracker – Reading
If your goal is to read two books a month, every time you complete a book you could note the date and book that you read. So it may look something like this:
- 1/05 – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- 1/25 – The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
- 2/09 – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- And so on and so forth.
Goal tracker – Blog posts
If you want to publish five blog posts a month, you could update this section each time you publish a post. You could note the post you completed or just the date that you completed it on or a combination of both. Something like this:
- Posts completed:
- 5/03 – 10 Best Personal Development Books Of All Time (Must-Read!)
- 5/11 – 20 Productivity Hacks You Can Use To Be 400% More Productive
- And so on and so forth.
Goal tracker – Marathon
If you want to run a marathon by October first, you can track your daily mileage leading up to the race. Or to make it even simpler, you can just track how many times you run each week. So for example, each time you go for a run, you could place an X in the row for that week.
- Runs completed (by week):
- Week of 8/03: XXXX
- 8/10: XXXX
- 8/17: XXXXX
- 8/24: XXXX
- And so on and so forth.
Your progress report section will vary depending on the goal – which is to be expected. Just remember that the point of this section is to track your progress. As long as you’re doing that, it’s perfect.
With your progress report section added in, your goal tracker should now look like this:
Seriously, that’s all you need for an effective goal tracker. It’s:
- And actionable
It’s a totally free system that you can use again and again. Now, you may be wondering: Do I need to write each goal down on a separate Google Doc? You can if you’d like, but you don’t have to.
I try and keep things as simple as possible so I personally have just one Google Doc with all my goals on it. And then when I have an update to make, I go in and update whatever goal requires it. That brings me to my next point.
Here’s how often you should update your goal tracker
The reason you need to create a goal tracker that is easily accessible is because you will look at it a lot. It ultimately depends on the kinds of goals you are pursuing though. If you have a habit goal that you work on each day, you’re going to want to go in and update it daily.
If you have an achievement goal that is four months away, maybe you only need to update it once a week or once a month.
The effort required for your goal will determine how often you need to look at and update your tracker.
If you have a habit goal that you complete once a week, you’ll want to update that section of your goal tracker weekly. If you complete something for a different goal later on in the month, you should update that section of your goal tracker then.
I have some goals that I update my goal tracker for nearly every day. And then I have other goals that require updates every other week or once a month. It depends on the goals I am working towards at that moment.
What comes next
With your goal tracker now set up, you’re probably wondering what comes next. From here, it’s time for you to start putting in the work. You have your goal, why, notes, and progress tracker. Now you’re ready to start taking action.
But, just like I mentioned at the outset of this post, you need to be intentional with the steps you take. So I highly recommend planning out when you will work on each goal.
Here’s what that looks like in my own life.
Every Sunday, I sit down and plan out my week. I look at my calendar, review my goals, and go through the other Google Docs that I use to organize my life. And then I create a plan. A detailed plan. I write out what I’m going to do each day and when. From the moment I wake up to when I go to bed.
I’m not saying you need to go that far with it, but I am advocating that you create a plan for your week. Even if your days change around in the moment, even if no day looks exactly the same, create a plan anyways.
That way, when Wednesday rolls around you’ll know that you need to do your 50 pushups. You won’t forget, you won’t put them off. You’ll know what you need to do and you’ll make time for it.
Get my goal tracker template (free)
You know what you need to do to create a goal tracker of your very own. And yet… you just don’t want to put in the effort. Which… even though there’s very little effort required… I’m ok with.
Because I want you to achieve your goals. So I’m happy to do whatever I can to remove friction in your life and make it easier for you to attain your aims.
That said, if you don’t want to go through the effort of creating your own goal tracker, I’ve created a template that you can use. It’s totally free. Just enter your info below and I’ll email it over to you. I’m more than happy to share.
After all, this is one of my favorite tools for goal setting.
Other tools to achieve goals
Alright so you have your goal tracker, you have a plan, and yet you still aren’t feeling confident in your abilities. Like there are still some questions you have yet to find answers to. Or maybe you’ve been working towards your goals for a while now and are feeling stuck.
Totally get it.
In that case, I highly recommend that you enroll in my goal success course. You will get the very best goal setting tools, strategies, and systems that you need to succeed. Or better yet, I offer an eight-week goal coaching program that guarantees results. You can learn more about that program right here.
Whichever option you go with, know that I created them with you in mind. I’ve been in your position and I know what it feels like to come up short on your goals. So let me help.
I will teach you how to achieve your goals once and for all.
Moving forward with your goal tracker
You need a system that you can use again and again. Not another app that clutters your phone. Not another walkthrough that promises to be the next big software or goal tracking journal or app for goal setting.
And when you follow the instructions above, that’s what you will create for yourself. You will create a goal tracker that is easy to use, minimalistic, and organized. Remember:
- Write down your goal
- Record your why
- Jot down any notes
- And add progress updates along the way
Goal success is possible. There’s a lot that goes into it, but utilizing a goal tracker is one major step in the right direction. So… get to it!
What’s the first goal you are going to pursue with your new goal tracker?
With your goal tracker ready, I have to know… what goal are you going to tackle first? Add a comment below and fill me in!
I look forward to hearing from you.