In September we're bringing two freebies your way: The Goal Tracker and the Habit Tracker. Download the Goal Tracker here, and check back October 2nd to download your very own copy of the Habit Tracker. These will be available for free all September and October to celebrate fall (our favorite season to start new habits and strategize goals). Download, print, and read below to learn about the science behind them, plus some tips to help use them for maximum success.
#1: What's your goal?
This one is easy -- write down your goal as specifically as you can. It can be anything: Do you want to learn a new skill? Save up for a car? Get that passion project going? Heck, even just clean out your fridge or get 15 minutes of exercise? 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.
For this section, think about all the benefits of achieving this goal. Bonus: 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 dig in, and really get to the heart of who will be impacted positively if you reach this goal and how. 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 things you can do to create forward movement. These should be small things you can check off each week. Read more about microtasking here. The quick science: Every time you get a micro task 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. Pro-Level: 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.
Caveat: Avoid using your celebration to compensate for something you think you sacrificed along the way. For example, if your goal was to stick to a healthy calorie count, don't celebrate by going out for ice cream. Not because ice cream is bad, but because it sends mixed signals to your brain ("calorie counting is hard and means I can't have ice cream, but ice cream is the best reward!". Totally go out for ice cream or get that donut as part a balanced life, but when it comes to celebrating -- try doing something that proves your life is awesome on the daily (watch your favorite movie, block your calendar for alone time, get a spa service, cook your favorite meal, etc).
High-five yourself and repeat. Usually within a week to a month you’ll be finished with your Goal Tracker. If you’ve achieved your goal by then, congrats! If not, start a new Goal Tracker with more tasks, and make sure to include your *why* so that you'll reconnect with it again.
Getting stuck or finding ways to tweak the Tracker to make it even better? Let us know!