How to track your goals in 7 easy steps (plus tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Clearly outlining your goals is an effective method for ensuring you live a successful life. Tracking your set goals helps to make sure you're making progress until you hit your goal. Learning how to review your track and review your goals can help you to measure your success and become more productive. In this article, we explore how to track goals, the benefits of doing so and some additional tips for success.

How to track your goals

Figuring out how to track your goals helps you to achieve the things you want efficiently. Goals are the results you desire and diligently set out to achieve. You can realise goals when you plan ahead and carefully monitor the process from start to finish. In tracking your goals, you may clearly state your desired results and constantly evaluate yourself to ensure you're getting closer to fulfilling them. Doing this helps you to see which areas you can improve in. Accountability to yourself when you track your goals increases your chances of achieving them.

The following steps are helpful for tracking your goals:

1. Create a positive mindset

Having a positive mindset has a myriad of benefits, including greater levels of happiness and willpower and a greater likelihood of completing tasks. Ensure the goals you set for yourself are realistic and achievable. If you set goals that you can't realistically achieve, you may easily get sidetracked and doubt your abilities if you experience challenges. Achievable goals are more likely to lead to a positive mindset in which you enjoy the challenges you face.

Optimism helps you to consistently visualise your dreams until you reach them. One way to help you build and sustain a positive mindset about your goals is to read about people with similar dreams that have been successful. It's motivational to know that if they could do it, you also can. Another way to develop a constructive attitude is to interact with people whose interests align with yours. A community of like-minded individuals drives team spirit and reminds you that you aren't alone in your efforts.

Related: How to write an action plan to help you achieve your goals

2. List out your goals

Spend some time reflecting on your goals and clearly write them out. You can do so using your notepad or computer. Doing this helps you to focus, stay motivated and prioritise tasks in order of their importance. You may find that once you list your goals, you can make some tasks much easier to achieve by doing them in a particular order. This allows you to maximise your efficiency.

Priorities also you to choose realistic goals. What seems realistic or desirable in your head may become less desirable once you have every one of your goals in front of you. Listing goals that you can't realistically achieve can impact your self-esteem, so it's better not to list them at all.

Related: How to develop SMART goals

3. Break your goals down into smaller sub-goals

Review your goals and identify the larger ones that you can break down into smaller tasks. For example, if your goal is to become a professional football player, instead of setting a goal as 'become football player', you consider the logical steps to achieving that goal. These may include 'buy football boots', 'practice three times a week', 'perform full-body exercises' and 'research other professionals'.

Approaching your goals as smaller sub-goals lets you complete tasks more frequently. Instead of working for a long period of time without feedback, you enjoy smaller, more frequent successes. Working in this way is also valuable for limiting procrastination, developing organisation skills, gaining confidence over time and reducing stress.

Related: What is the difference between goals and objectives?

4. Work with realistic deadlines

After stating your objectives, assign them with reasonable deadlines for fulfilment. Setting a reasonable deadline lowers procrastination and doesn't put unnecessary stress on yourself. For example, if your goal is to finish up a 5,000-word article, setting a deadline of 10 minutes is inappropriate. Setting a deadline of a few days, or more or less depending on your proficiency, means you're motivated to finish the task but not overworked. Setting deadlines too far in the future can make you relax too much, leading to time-wasting. You can set the appropriate periods for a purpose by doing the following:

  • determining your priorities

  • knowing your speed and abilities while accomplishing tasks

Creating reminders on your computer or mobile phone can help you to keep track of your deadlines. You may also benefit from leaving reminders on a whiteboard or sticky note so you have a constant physical reminder of your tasks.

5. Set a timeframe for progress review

Use progress reviews on a weekly or monthly basis to help you track where you currently are, how many sub-goals you've accomplished, any mistakes you've made and how far you are from reaching your goals. Progress reviews remind you of how far you are from your initial starting point and they encourage you to do more in the future. Reviewing your outlined goals also helps you to avoid being distracted and inactive.

One way to carry out progress reviews is to establish a measurement unit for your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, knowing your initial weight helps you to measure how much you're losing over time. You can also determine your success by setting milestones for you to accomplish and then measuring the time it took to reach each milestone.

6. Celebrate your achievements

By celebrating your achievements, you learn to appreciate how much time, resources and energy you put into being successful. Acknowledge the hard work and dedication you put into hitting milestones, irrespective of whether they're small or big ones.

For every target you list out, accompany them with compensatory rewards. For example, you could celebrate with friends, get a ticket to a concert or buy something for yourself. It's a good idea to repay yourself with things that excite you and keep your morale high, making further goals easier to achieve.

7. Anticipate delays and mistakes

Unplanned circumstances may come up while you're on course to achieving your goals. These can shift your attention from your goals, causing setbacks. When this happens, remember that this is natural and not a reflection of your efforts. Continue from where you stopped and consider how you can prevent this issue in the future.

Using this information, you can put structures in place to minimise future risks. For instance, if you're trying to achieve make professional learning a habit, avoid having the tv on and limit your access to media. These can distract you and cause setbacks, and by limiting your access to them, you lower their potential impact.

Related: How to be successful and achieve your personal goals

Benefits of tracking your goals

Tracking your goals is beneficial for a range of reasons, including:

  • shows you exactly where you are and how much effort to put in to ensure you hit your target

  • helps you monitor your progress to know if you're making progress, allowing you to celebrate your victories

  • helps you identify mistakes you may avoid in the future

  • keeps you focused and ensures you prioritise the fulfilment of goals

Tips on how to ensure your goal tracking strategies are successful

Certain things allow goal tracking strategies to be very efficient and successful. Some of them include:

Use a goal-tracking software

Goal-tracking software can help you to perform many of the most important steps in tracking goals. Having a visual representation of your efforts is simpler to understand than long lists. They typically feature user-friendly interfaces, reminders, notifications and schedules. Experiment with different types of software to find the one that suits you best.

Be accountable

A good way to ensure you achieve your goals is to inform someone about your plans. By doing so, you allow them to hold you responsible for your actions. Knowing that someone else is aware of what you are or are not doing can help to boost your motivation.

Start each day at zero

This practice means setting milestones for yourself on a daily basis. When aiming for a target over a number of weeks, months or years, you can lose track of how much effort you've put in. When you measure your goals daily, you motivate yourself to achieve things one step at a time.

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