Goal setting is mostly talked about at the end of a year or the beginning of a new one. That’s why I’m bringing it back up today, three months into the year. If you’ve already forgotten what goals you set in January, there is no day like today to return to them and start tracking progress.
Building for Your Future
I believe that tracking or not tracking progress to goals is the number one reason that people succeed in reaching their goals or struggle to make any progress.
To me, tracking your goals is about 3 things: Breaking goals down into written steps, tracking progress, and being held accountable by an outside party.
Break Goals Down Into Smaller Steps
We all have dreams, usually big, long term dreams. Most people never achieve them or get even close. There’s one simple reason why that happens: dreams happen in your head, not in your reality.
But what would happen if you turned your dreams into a series of actionable goals? What if you wrote those goals down? Breaking big visions up into smaller parts can make huge dreams actually attainable.
I look at small, attainable goals like steps on a ladder. They help you get to a place you can’t easily go. I can’t jump onto the roof of my house naturally, so I use a ladder to help me get there. Each step in the ladder is a metaphor for a written goal that is step one, that leads to the next step, to the next, and before I know it I’m on the roof blowing all the leaves off of it, being a good husband. And I got there one step at a time.
Tracking your progress will help you move your goals forward every week or even every day. Big dreams require long processes with many smaller steps. That’s why I use a written action plan with small steps to check off.
Having a process to track your goal progress will help you to see and measure what you’ve accomplished. You’ll always know you’re making strides.
3rd Party Accountability
The final step is scary. To really accomplish the goals you’ve set, you need to find a trusted friend or family member to share with and discuss your goal progress together. This really ties it all together, as we all need a partner to hold our feet to the fire when we are losing momentum.
For me, that’s my wife, Sara. Every month, we go out for a life planning dinner. We take our goal tracking sheet, have some beers, and just talk out loud about our progress. We provide feedback to each other, have the tough conversations, and help remove any blocks that might be in the way to progress.
For us, this process required a learning curve. Our first few goal reviews were really stressful and challenging. So we decided to make it more fun—to treat it like a special event. Now, we really look forward to going out to our favorite sushi bar to sit, talk, and plan.
I can tell you, make it fun, you will want to do this more and more. And the more you check in on your goal progress and talk it through, the faster you will figure out what’s holding you back.
Below is a censored screenshot of my goal tracking sheet. This is a really simple Google Sheet with some conditional formatting to help highlight progress. I like to keep it digital and keep it simple so it’s easy for me to see what needs work.
Give it a Try
Have one particular dream that feels impossible? Try writing it down and seeing if you can break it into a series of smaller steps. You don’t have to wait for the start of next year to start something and make it happen.