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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

15 Powerful Tools For Goal Setting

15 Powerful Tools For Goal Setting

It’s obvious that in order to achieve your goals, you’re going to need to set them. However, we tend to forget to use specific tools for goal setting. There are several kinds of tools for you to use, and when leveraged properly they can be just as impactful as setting a goal and striving to achieve it.

The tools presented below are the glue that keeps a goal-setting system together. The more of them you’ve got keeping your system intact, the more valuable it is to have them around. Here are some suggestions for tools and how to get the most out of them.

Why Does Goal Setting Matter?

Before getting into the specific tools for goal setting, it pays to know why it’s worth tracking and setting goals in the first place.

The largest reason to consider tracking and setting goals is the fact that our goals change the older we get. You develop new priorities as you get older, and your goals in your twenties are going to be different than the goals you’ll be setting in your forties or fifties[1].

The fact that your goals are going to be shifting means that it’ll be helpful to have some way of tracking and setting goals. Another way to be looking at this is that setting goals give you a direction to go in life. Similar to a compass, it leads you to your destination in due time. Tracking goals is like a map, and if you know where you are going, it will ensure you are still going the right way and that your pace is still good.

15 Best Tools for Goal Setting

The list of potential tools for goal setting is extensive. From physical objects to apps, you have options to customize your map. Here are my suggestions and how to best leverage them.

Online Resources for Goal Setting

Some people work best when technology is involved to simplify the process. If you’re one of those people, get started with these apps and platforms today.

1. Basecamp

Basecamp

 is a platform created by Google for project management. While it’s built for groups to help organize teams, there are features that help an individual in setting goals.

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Through this tool, you’ll be able to create multiple to-do lists that cover various sections of your life. Better yet, you’re able to set yourself deadlines and assign several goals into those sections. What this does is effectively set milestones for you to complete.

Best of all is that this is free to use so long as you have a Gmail account.

2. Goal Buddy

Another free platform to consider is Goal Buddy. This one is an actual goal-setting system that puts you through the paces to create SMART goals. You can then use the same platform to track your progress and keep yourself focused on the goals ahead.

3. Lifetick

For those considering one of the more in-depth tools for goal setting, Lifetick is a worthwhile option. This app is great for those who don’t know their core values or feel stuck with what to do.

This app dives into identifying your core values and then offers a platform for you to set SMART goals and begin tracking them.

4. Milestone Planner

Milestone Planner

 is a goal-setting platform that makes setting goals and tracking them easier. It gives you an opportunity to brainstorm, visualize, and track your goals all in one.

5. Todoist

To-do lists are powerful as they are like mini-goals that lead into your bigger goals. Todoist is like that, but it allows you the opportunity to set more significant goals as well. That way, you’re able to keep track of what your small goals are leading to without having to set them aside or try to recall it every time because of app limitations.

6. Single Step

Another in-depth app to consider is Single Step as this platform identifies areas in your life that are significant to you and that are worth striving for. The app also gives you graphs, charts, and other visual aids to help you track and moniter progress.

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7. Move Mountains

This platform is an impactful one. Move Mountains is a free platform that offers various courses to help you stay motivated on your goals. It’s ideal for people who need a coach to keep them accountable.

8. Habit List

Another perspective to goals is that goals are nothing more than a build-up of habits. For example, if you want to lose weight, you’ll develop a habit of exercising more or change your eating habits if necessary. Habit List focuses on the habit aspect.

It’s only available on iPhones, but it’s still an intuitive tool for goal setting that’s worth trying if you can.

9. StikK

StikK 

is a platform that adds in some extra accountability for those that need it. Use it for yourself or in a group, and you can begin prioritizing your goals.

On the surface, you can use this for simple tracking and setting of your goals, but where you can get the most out of it is through that extra accountability. StikK makes it easy for you to set your goals in such a way where if you don’t complete the goal in time, you’ll donate money to something.

This is a similar idea to giving money to a friend and asking for it back after you complete your goal within a period of time. But if you don’t complete it in time, they get to keep it. All in all, it adds an extra incentive as no one wants to give money away for free, especially when it can be avoided.

10. Goalscape

Similar to Lifetick, Goalscape offers a more refined and detailed interface for you to look at. It considers all aspects of your life and allows you to prioritize certain aspects. Overall, this provides great information that helps you to visualize what must be done in your life.

Traditional Methods for Goal Setting

Some people prefer to have a constant visual or place to write down their goals. If that’s you, incorporate these materials into your life to make sure you’re setting your goals right.

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1. Post-It Notes

While there are many perks to using online platforms like the ones mentioned above, sometimes you need to go back to traditional methods, and it pays to do so. In this day and age, we are so used to typing things out or using various online tools to enhance our lives.

While that’s great, going back to traditional pen and paper to jot down goals or to-do lists can be just as powerful.

Considering the fact we don’t write as much, there is statistically higher odds of you succeeding when you define goals and write them down[2]. One way to facilitate that is to have some Post-it notes available. They’re small and compact, so they won’t take up much space.

2. A Whiteboard

On a similar note, another helpful tool is a whiteboard. It follows the same principals as the Post-it notes in that you have a surface where you can jot down notes, goals, and ideas easier and can get more creative with it through the form of colored markers.

But one other thing you can do with a whiteboard is better map out your month or a week at a time. What’s nice is that you have a convenient spot to turn back to rather than hopping to various pages on an app or platform.

3. A Journal

Another great tool to consider is a journal. While there are specific journals that you can use, my suggestion is to go with one of the non-goal setting formatted ones. A journal provides an opportunity for you to write more details and to create dedicated sections to particular things using your particular style.

While goal-setting journals are formatted that same way, they often focus on giving you space to write down goals and not much else.

A blank journal can allow you to jot down ideas of what’s working for you and what isn’t. You can use it to record how you feel or maybe jot down quotes that inspire and motivate you.

4. Support System

Apps like StikK or Basecamp work better when you’re with a group. However, a group of friends on their own is just as impactful. A group of friends impacts on your life both directly and indirectly.

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Research shows that those that are in our inner and outer circle do play a role in our overall social behavior[3]. This also includes the goals that you set and your chances of achieving them. If you’re around a group of people who aren’t setting goals, it’s harder for you to achieve them as they are rubbing off on you.

On the other hand, when you have people who care about your goals and are striving to succeed themselves, you’ll find it easier to rely on them and get to where you want to go.

The “One Year From Now” Exercise

This isn’t so much a tool, but a way that can lead into using some of these tools. The whole premise of this exercise is to ask yourself where you want to be one year from now.

This isn’t a broad stroke though. You want to focus on five aspects: your work, home, finances, relationships, and yourself. Some more specific questions to ask in these areas are:

  • Work: What job will you be working? How will you be working towards the life you want?
  • Home: Are you looking to save for a home or buy one? Are you happy with your current living conditions? Are there any home improvement projects you have in mind?
  • Finances: Are there any debts you wish to pay off? Is there something you are saving up for specifically?
  • Relationships: Are you happy with your partner? Have you been thinking of marriage? How much value are you getting from the closest relationships you have right now?
  • Yourself: How do you want to feel one year from now? What parts of your personality do you want to develop?

The idea with this exercise is to jot down enough to create a plan for where you’ll be in the future. From there you can narrow it down to monthly goals and daily tasks.

Final Thoughts

Technology has opened up the gateway for many ways for us to set and track goals, but it never hurts to go back to basics and use the traditional methods. Regardless of what tools for goal setting you want to use, both digital and non-digital tools are impactful and have their roles to play. All that matters is that you use the best tool for you get started on your goals today.

More Tips on Goal Setting

Featured photo credit: freestocks via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

As a track and field runner in school, every year I would sit down with my coach and set a series of goals for the season. Once we had set my goals for the year, we would create a training plan so I could achieve those targets. This helped me answer the main question here: “What are SMART goals?”

Before I got a coach, I used to run aimlessly with no plan, no target races. More often than not, I would end up injured and find my season ending after achieving very little.

Once I got a coach, though, I started winning races that mattered and began enjoying my sport. This annual process taught me from a very early age that goals are important if I want to achieve the things that are important to me.

So what exactly are SMART goals? This article will talk about why goals matter, how to use SMART goals effectively with your time and resources, and how these goals give you a clear, specific plan that works time and time again.

Why Do People Fail to Reach Their Goals?

Setting SMART goals and achieving them

is not easy, and many people fail. A study by Scranton University found that only 8% of those who set New Year goals actually achieve them, meaning 92% who set new year goals fail[1].

The problem is that many people see goals, such as New Year resolutions, as hopes and wishes. They hope they will lose some weight, they wish to start their own business, or they hope to get a better job. The problem with “hoping” and “wishing” for something is that there is no plan, no purpose, and no time frame set for achieving the goals.

Once these hopes and wishes come face-to-face with the realities of daily life, they soon dissolve into lost hopes and wishful thinking.

Therefore, in order to really achieve something, you need a concrete goal: a SMART goal.

What Are SMART Goals?

The foundation of all successfully accomplished goals is the SMART goal.

Originally conceived by George T. Doran in a 1981 paper[2], this formula has been used in various forms ever since.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. It has been used by corporations and individuals to achieve their goals and objectives and is a formula that, on the whole, works well.

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Use SMART goals to help you achieve more.

    The strength of SMART goals is that they set a clear path to achieving goals, and they have a clear time frame in which to achieve them. Let’s look at the SMART criteria in a little more detail:

    Specific

    For a goal to be achievable, it needs to have a very clear outcome. What you are asking is, “What exactly do I want to achieve?” The clearer the goal, the more likely it is you will achieve it.

    For example, if you just say “I want to lose weight,” then technically you could achieve your goal just by not eating dinner for one day—you would lose weight that way, even if it were temporary.

    You need to have a more specific goal: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

    Measurable

    To achieve anything, it’s important to have measurable goals. T

    ake the example above: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

    It’s measurable, as all you need do is weigh yourself on 1 January, then deduct twenty-pounds from that and set that weight as the target for 31 July. Then, each week you weigh yourself to measure progress.

    Attainable

    Being attainable means that SMART goals are realistic and that you have what you need in order to achieve them.

    In our example of losing weight, 20 pounds in six months is certainly doable. Your resources could include a gym membership, some at-home weights, or simply motivation to get outside and run everyday.

    If motivation is an area where you struggle, you can check out Lifehack’s Ultimate Worksheet for Instant Motivation Boost.

    Relevant

    For any goal to be achieved, you need to set relevant goals for your unique life.

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    If losing weight is doable with the lifestyle you have, and if you believe it will lead to a happier, healthier life, then it is certainly relevant to you. It’s even more relevant if your doctor has pointed out that you need to lose weight to prevent health issues.

    Time-based

    Finally, you need a timeline. All your goals need to have an end date because it creates a sense of urgency and gives you a deadline.

    In our example of losing twenty-pounds, a timeline of six months would be specific, measurable, relevant, and would have a timeline. Furthermore, as you have what you need to achieve that goal, it is attainable—all elements of the formula for SMART goals are included.

    How to Reach a SMART Goal

    The problem I have always found with the SMART goal formula is it does not take into account the human factor. We need motivation and a reason for achieving these goals.

    If you decide to lose twenty-pounds, for example, you are going to spend many months feeling hungry, and unless you possess superhuman mental strength, you are going to give in to the food temptations.

    All SMART goals can be distilled down to three words:

    • What do you want to achieve?
    • Why do you want to achieve it?
    • How are you going to achieve it?

    When you simplify your goal in this way, achieving it becomes much easier.

    1. Visualize What You Want

    One way to make your goals achievable is to visualize the end result. When you write out your mission statement, you should be imagining what it will be like once you have achieved the goal.

    In our weight loss example, you would close your eyes and imagine walking down from your hotel room in Ibiza in July with your towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, and swimwear on. You would imagine walking past all the other sunbathers and the feeling you have, the pride in the way you look and feel.

    Try to invoke as many of the five senses as you possibly can[3].

    2. Identify Your “Why”

    If you take losing twenty-pounds as an example, once you have made the decision that you want to do this, the next question to ask yourself is, “Why?” The more personal your why, the better.

    Your why could be, “Because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza this summer.” That is a strong why.

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    If your why is, “Because my doctor told me to lose some weight,” that is not a good why because it’s your doctor’s, not yours.

    One way to identify your “why” is to write your mission statement.

    To help with setting achievable SMART goals, when working with my clients, I always ask them to complete the following mission statement:

    I will [STATE GOAL CLEARLY] by [DATE YOU WANT TO COMPLETE THE GOAL] because [YOUR WHY].

    If you want to write a SMART goal for the weight loss example, your mission statement would be written: “I will lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza.”

    Never write a mission statement that is full of vague words. The words you use should be simple, direct, and clear.

    3. Figure out Your “How”

    Before you can begin achieving your goal, you need to create a list of steps you can take to make it happen.

    Write down everything you can think of that will help achieve your goal. It doesn’t matter what order you write these tasks down; what matters is that you write down as many action steps you can think of.

    I always aim for around one hundred small steps. This makes it much easier to assign tasks for each day that not only moves you forward on your goal, but also keeps you focused every day on achieving it.

    Once you have your list, you can create a to-do list for the goal and allocate the steps to different days so you create momentum towards a successful outcome.

    You can learn more about how to use SMART goals to achieve success and lasting change in this video:

    Bonus: Make a PACT

    There is one more part needed to really make sure you achieve the SMART goals you set for yourself, and that is something I call PACT. PACT is another acronym meaning Patience, Action, Consistency, and Time. You need all four of these to achieve goals.

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    Patience

    Without patience, you will give up. To achieve anything worthwhile requires patience. Success does not happen overnight. Be patient and enjoy the process of stepping a little closer towards achieving your goal each day.

    Action

    If you do not take action on any goal, then even SMART goals won’t be achieved. You need to make sure you remind yourself of your goal and why you want to achieve it each day. Read your mission statement, make an action plan, and then take the necessary action to make sure you move a step closer each day.

    Consistency

    The action you take each day towards achieving your goal needs to be consistent. You can’t follow your diet program for a week and then have three weeks off. Jim Rohn said it perfectly when he said:

    “Success is a few simple disciplines practised every day.”

    Time

    Of course, you need to allow enough time between where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Be realistic about time, and don’t get disheartened if you miss your deadline. Readjust your timeline if necessary.

    The Bottom Line

    The key to success is to put everything together. When you connect all of these elements, you create an environment where achieving SMART goals becomes much more attainable.

    Whether it’s personal or business goals, when you have a strong personal “why” for your goal, your motivation to keep going stays strong.

    Start with your “why,” and then get started on the action steps that will take you all the way to the end.

    More Tips on Reaching Your Goals

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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