This is one of my favorite topics.
As part of my planning/organization/goal-setting #AtoZchallenge, I’ve covered accountability—a similar but separate topic. Goal-tracking is an important part of accountability; as mentioned in my post on establishing goals, your goals need to be SMART, and the M stands for measurable.
The first step in tracking your goals is in finding a way to write down your progress. Oftentimes, this involves quantifying it. For writers, quantification of goals means figuring out a daily, weekly, or monthly word count, or an amount of time spent editing. For readers, it means numbers of pages and books read. For a weightlifter, it means tracking sets and reps, or cardio minutes, or the number of spin and yoga classes attended. For students, it’s time spent studying, and perhaps grades on assignments. You get the point.
How to track goals
This Lifehacker article offers several options for applications and websites to track general goals, often multiple ones. But I want to offer some examples tailored toward specific goals, as well as some DIY options. (Remember that finding a tool or method to track your goals is usually just a Google search of “x tracker” away!)
I did a post a few months ago on a few writing trackers I’d found, including the WriterStat Nuwa (which mimics NaNoWriMo’s writing tracker), 4thewords.com (which turns writing into an RPG), and Writeometer (an Android app). All three of these are great options, although I end up using Writeometer the most, along with my 365k Club spreadsheet:
My spreadsheet is a modification of the WriYe 2016 Report Card, to which I added categories for editing minutes and words rewritten, as well as changed some headings. The information I get from the spreadsheet is much more detailed than the information I get from other writing trackers, but whether or not you use a similar system depends on how detail-oriented you want to be.
You can use a spreadsheet for almost any goal. Finding a template is just a Google search of “x tracker spreadsheet” away, or if you’ve got some Excel experience and know the parameters of what you want to track, you can make one on your own.
For fitness, I use an app called JEFIT. It’s a companion for while you work out; it has a huge database of exercises and you can enter how long you performed one, how many reps you did at what weight, etc. JEFIT keeps track of things such as your one-rep max by calculating it automatically. It also has options to record notes, take progress photos, record weight and body measurements, and connect with friends and community.
As a student, my goals are mostly task-based, so I keep track of them in my planner. It’s important to keep track of all of your goals in some sort of calendar so that you can meet deadlines and properly integrate your goal-setting into the rest of your life. I note in my planner when I go to yoga classes and write down my daily word count.
Reflection and internalization
Once you’ve compiled your goal progress into your calendar or planner, it’s important to take time to reflect on them. This can be as often as you like—once a week, once a month, or even daily. But journaling is an important part of the goal-tracking progress. It gives you a chance to work through how you feel, figure out where you’re failing, congratulate yourself on successes, and reach new insights about your motivations and who you are becoming. More on that later this month.
While journaling, note, quantitatively and/or qualitatively, what you’ve done since the last update. Jot down as little or as much as you want about how that progress—or lack thereof—makes you feel. Note things that happened to impact your progress positively or negatively. And finally, encourage yourself to keep going.
Happy goal tracking! I’ll be back tomorrow with the letter H.