14 min read
Every few months, a “new kid on the block” goal tracker tool emerges.
This is often followed by a large group of entrepreneurs dropping their current goal setting systems for a tool that promises higher productivity and better habit building. But does new mean better?
While goal setting isn’t anything new, new apps and software have introduced more features and functionalities to aid in tracking our goals. With so many options, how do you know what the best goal setting tools are?
I’m about to answer this question in a monster blog post on 14 goal tracker tools for optimal goal setting. Whether you want updates to be sent straight to your Apple watch (so fancy!) or you want to keep it old school with a color-coded planner, you’ll find something that works for you.
While advancements in technology have helped us automate our processes like never before, it’s also increased the “shiny object” syndrome among creators.
It’s easy to get distracted by the latest app or the newest software if we don’t focus our energy on actually completing our goals. This is where old school tools can really help.
Before the Internet, people still had a way of tracking their goals and completing daily tasks to help them get there. Here are some of the tried and true ways to create a throwback goal tracking system.
Sometimes all you need is a pen and paper. Taking time every week to step away from your computer to track your goals is not only therapeutic, but it can also breed your best ideas. Nearly all of my best business ideas started as rough outlines in my own sketchbook.
With journaling, you can free write your ideas in paragraph form or create a bulleted list of tasks for a top-level view of what needs to get done. It’s best to try a few different formats to see which feels like a natural fit.
I recommend purchasing a dedicated journal for all of your blog and freelance business goals and ideas. This will help you keep them all in one place so you don’t have to flip through multiple journals to revisit your goals. TJ Maxx and HomeGoods have affordable journals that do the trick.
If you’re looking for a more concrete way to track your goals, you may be interested in bullet journaling, commonly abbreviated to “bujo”. You can turn any notebook, notepad, or journal into a bullet journal with their free, easy-to-use logging system.
Bullet journaling lets you create a flexible organizational system for daily tasks, weekly benchmarks, and monthly or yearly goals. I used a bullet journal last year to record all of my goals for the month as I chose a word to guide all of my goals and defined non-negotiable tasks for each week.
With so many bullet journal options, you’re sure to find a layout that works best for you. I recommend looking into Boho Berry and Pretty Prints and Paper for extra inspiration if you want to get started.
Writing our goals down on paper is a great start, but it’s too easy to forget our goals along the way if we’re only accountable to ourselves. We may start to slip and tell ourselves, “Oh, I’ll just tackle that task next month.” It’s fine to do this every once in awhile but if you haven’t touched the task three months later, some outside accountability would be beneficial.
When we share our goals with a trusted friend or like-minded blogger, our goals will stay top-of-mind throughout the month. Not only will we want to reach our goals for ourselves but we’ll also want to accomplish everything on our to-do list so we can celebrate with our accountability partner.
What if you want multiple accountability partners? This is where a mastermind group comes in. Since there are so many kinds of mastermind groups, here’s a list to help you choose the right fit:
I’ve found it’s best if your mastermind group is made up of professionals from a similar industry. It’s even better if you are all working toward a similar goal, like launching a course or writing an eBook. While I love my friends who are boutique owners and florists, we may not be able to learn as much from each other since they run a brick and mortar store and I run a strictly online business.
Instead, I started a local mastermind group in Minneapolis with two website designers who are in a similar field since we all do website building and online marketing for a living. We meet at the beginning of every year to go over our yearly business goals and meet twice a quarter to check on our progress. I attribute a lot of my growth (and sanity) to having this mastermind group.
You may be wondering how networking will help you set better goals. Connecting with other professionals in your field helps you keep a pulse on the key things happening in your industry.
Knowing what’s relevant and what’s working for other creators could spark new ideas for your own brand. Simply being around other creators is inspiring.
As a sensitive introvert, I’ve had to learn how to not only sell myself but also how to network in large rooms of people. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, but with practice I developed a style that fits me to a T.
When I changed the way I approach networking events, it helped me connect in a way that felt like me. I always leave feeling more inspired than when I came in. I spend much of my time at networking events making real connections with a select few people, focusing on their goals.
When you lead a conversation by asking about their goals, you show your interest in understanding how they want to grow. The more they reveal, the more opportunity you have to include insights that might be helpful and ask if they need help.
If you show interest in their business goals, chances are the person will return the favor and ask about your own goals. This gives you great practice with speaking about your bigger goals and getting objective feedback, all while connecting with new professionals. And you never know where you’ll meet your next accountability partner!
Wait, aren’t goals about the hustle? Not necessarily. When I was in my first year of full-time business, I glorified being busy and became a slave to reaching my goals, no matter what it took. Well, what it took was my health and most of my sanity.
Prioritizing rest in the goal setting process is essential to your professional growth. Without rest, you’ll burnout before you ever reach the goal. It’s better to keep an eye on your energy levels so you know when you’re getting depleted. When this happens, refuel by taking care of yourself so you can get back to taking care of your business.
Sometimes taking a break can be just what you need to bring that new idea hidden within you to the surface. One of my most profitable business ideas came while I was on a family vacation last summer in the middle of canoeing down a calm river. I realized quickly that temporarily stepping away from my business could free up more mental space to make big things happen once I returned.
If you feel pulled in too many directions at one time, you’ll run out of steam. It’s happened to me on multiple occasions, which led me to taking half of December off one year to spend more time with my family over the holidays (one of my core values) and deeply think about the next year’s goals.
The way you approach taking breaks doesn’t have to look like what I do, but I hope this inspires you to think more about how you can work from a place of rest.
While I love old school tools, it would be silly to ignore the true power of technology when combined with goal setting. There are many goal setting apps that can help you set and track your goals, but it’s best to only choose a select few in creating your regular routine.
You may want to experiment with some of the free and affordable apps below before choosing your absolute favorites.
Think of Evernote like a big notebook that’s stored in the cloud. It acts as a master notepad that holds all of your big ideas in one central place.
Evernote allows you to access notes from any device, letting you seamlessly track your goal progress from your mobile, tablet, or desktop computer. If you have a business team, you can also share notes with one another and collaborate within the tool.
Asana acts as your master to-do list, giving you the opportunity to create task lists for a wide variety of topics. You can also create various lists that are project specific and only allow certain team members to see them.
Asana is great for team collaboration because you can assign specific tasks to different team members so expectations are clear from the start. There’s also a commenting functionality that turns task items into forums for collaborators to discuss.
Trello is often referred to as the more visual version of Asana. Instead of creating lists, you create separate boards that allow you to pin new tasks and archive completed tasks.
I use Trello to create a master list of all the freelance copywriting projects I’ve booked for each month. Since I juggle one-time projects at the same time as ongoing work, it ensures that I don’t overbook myself and stay on track with my financial goals.
Let’s call this the skinny version of Asana. Todoist is more of a task organizer than a full-blown team collaboration tool. If you’re simply looking for a digital checklist, this easy-to-use tool may be right for you.
Group messaging and video meetings all in one place? Sounds dreamy! Strides is incredibly powerful for collaborations since it is communication focused. If you have regular meetings and discussions around your goals, this could be a great option.
Nozbe is a time management tool that lets you organize projects and tasks from every area of your life. If you want to share some tasks with collaborators and keep others private, you can do that within Nozbe. It also connects with Evernote (which we featured above), Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Dropbox for easy file sharing.
This tool is uniquely focused on helping you create healthy habits through its app. Available on iOS and Android, Way of Life helps you track your progress in building habits like drinking enough water, exercising, calorie intake, reading, meditating, and more.
Feeling like you need extra accountability to reach your goals? Enter the Coach.me app. This tool pairs you with a coach to help you build habits that last. With multiple tiered offerings, you’re sure to find a fit that works for you.
The unique feature of Momentum is that it syncs with your Apple watch to help you look at your daily progress at a five second glance. You can also set weekly targets while skipping other goals during breaks and vacations.
Named as the App of the Year, Wunderlist helps you organize your to-do list, reminders, and errands all in one place. No matter how small a task is, you can create a priority list that helps you get more stuff done. You can also set due dates and alarms to help you stay accountable to your deadlines.
While we recommend exploring the apps we previously listed, there are so many more available to you. Find the right one for you and start setting successful goals today!
Do you have a favorite you didn’t see on the list? Let us know what your goal tracking process looks like in the comment section below.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.