Our Goal Trackers are based on the science of goal achievement and motivation. Read below to learn more about the psychology of each section and examples for how to use it towards your own goals.
#1: What's your goal?
This one is easy -- write down your goal as specifically as you can, for example, do you want to learn a new skill? Save up for a car? Get that passion project going? Hell, even just clean out your fridge or get 15 minutes of exercise every day? Whatever it is, big or small, write it down. Research shows that writing down goals increases our odds of success. Plus, it's critical for completing the next steps. Bonus points if you make this a measurable goal. For example, instead of "Save up for a car" write down the amount, such as "Save up $6,000 for a new car". Or instead of "Work on my passion project" write "Work on my passion project at least six hours a week for three weeks". That's measurable.
For this section, think about all the benefits of achieving this goal. Don't just think about how you'll benefit, but how others (family, friends, your industry, the world) will benefit too. Studies have found that one of the strongest motivators for success is feeling a connection to how our work benefits others. So really get to the heart of who will be impacted positively if you reach this goal. Check out our examples below to see a variety of why statements. Pro-Level: Regularly revisit this -- Visualize or re-write the "why" when motivation gets low or obstacles get high.
#3 Micro-task it
Pick 5 small tasks you can do to make progress towards that goal. These should be small to-dos that take from five minutes to 20 minutes at most to do -- that's a microtask. Read more about microtasking here. The quick science: Every time you get a microtask done and check it off your list, your brain will receive dopamine -- and a regular dose of dopamine is what creates the feeling of momentum, and experiencing momentum is in itself more motivating.
Make sure to include an “achieve by date” for each task. In our coaching practice, we've found that having clients write a date does two things for the brain: It ensures we keep things realistic (check those dates against your paper or digital schedule) and they increase the chance that a sense of urgency will set-in (urgency = motivation).
Decide how you’re going to celebrate when you check off all 5 of those microtasks. By creating a pattern of finishing tasks and then celebrating, you’ll be training your brain to understand that you can totally keep up this level of achievement. You’ll develop a sense that achieving a big goal can actually be done in a balanced way (rather than seeing big goals as stressful and intimidating). This cycle of "task and celebration" will train your brain to understand that this is doable, enjoyable, and totally not elusive.
Pro-Level: Wrap gratitude in with your celebration (for example, treating yourself and a friend who helped you stick to your goal to a nice dinner). Gratitude has been shown to have a longer positive affect than just splurging on yourself.
High-five yourself and repeat. Depending on the goal you set out, you might need several goal trackers or just one. For example, if your goal was to set up a new exercise routine, one goal tracker might be enough if it got you to sign up for a 10 week weight lifting boot camp. But if your goal was to save $10,000 by end of year, you might need several goal trackers to move you through all the micro-tasks required along the way.
If you find yourself stuck along the way, reach out by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to help you out on your goal journey!