Why It’s Important To Start Tracking Your Progress
Tracking your progress while you work towards your goal will ensure a higher probability of success. The more often you monitor your success, the probability of success rises. Further, when you physically track your success, on paper, digitally or publicly, your chances of success rise even more. Monitoring the progress you make along the way keeps you motivated to continue to put effort toward your goal because as you see your own progress, you work harder. When you track your progress towards your goal, you will gain the ability to praise and reward yourself for the small advancements you make along the way. Rewards help the brain solidify behaviors, making them more likely to happen again. These things will raise your chances of achieving your goals.
We define a reward for a behavior as an event that produces a positive experience. Rewarding yourself for your progress can be as simple as taking a slight break from your work to play with your dog, or treating yourself to a coffee from your favorite cafe. Rewards can work to increase a desired behavior or to decrease an undesired one. Reward systems work when a behavior immediately precedes a reward. This positive reinforcement will make it more likely the behavior will occur again in the future. Whatever your goal may be, using a reward system will increase your success rate. Studies show that human behavior is highly motivated by rewards, the prospect of advancement, and the feeling of outstanding work. When we feel that the work we are doing is good, we perform better. The motivation of a job well done will help you succeed in your goals. When we receive rewards for behaviors, we tend to repeat the behavior easier the next time.
Be sure that when you check in on your own progress, you log your progress. Physically logging your progression towards your goal on paper, in your phone or on your computer, will assist you in keeping up with how far you’ve come. You can also log your progress publicly, which has shown to foster higher success rates. Social media and support groups are perfect platforms for accounting for your successes. The more often you physically log your progress, the better chance you have in success with your goal. Tracking your progress helps ensure we put goals into action by increasing behavioral performance, and success rate increases when we physically track goals.
What To Track
Deciding which metrics should measure your progress within your goal depends mostly on the goal you have. Metrics should yield concrete and tangible evidence of progress toward your goal. The metric used will be one that makes sense considering the goal and the measured behavior. For example, if your goal is to get healthy, you may use the scale to weigh yourself every week to measure your weight loss progress and track it over time until you reach your goal. Using a scale as the metric makes sense for this goal. For most goals, there is over one way to measure progress that can be used alongside the primary measurement tool. Implementing several measurement tools will add to motivation, make tracking more fun and interesting, and build on your progression to your goal. Take the above goal as an example, to get healthier. There are several ways other than a scale that you can use to track your progress. You can track with a smartwatch that has a step or fitness counter, you can measure the amount of inches lost, measure your body fat percentage, even use your favorite old pair of jeans that used to fit to measure how close you are getting to your goal every week. As long as the metric works well to yield a tangible measure of progress, you can use it to track your goals.
Using over one method for tracking can be even more effective. Multiple methods will switch things up and help fight the monotony of tracking the same way all the time, which will boost motivation. Different tracking methods may make measuring progress more fun and help keep things interesting. When an activity is fun, we are more likely to want to repeat it, building on success rate. Another example could be, if the goal is; to get a promotion within my current company by improving my quality of work and advancing my knowledge through online training. The metrics used to track this goal might be quality and quantity of projects completed and success factors as they relate to superiors within the workplace, and revenue produced. Knowledge and experience gained from online training is measurable through the amount of online courses completed and books read that relate to my goal.
As stated, several metrics can track this goal, producing the possibility of a higher success rate. Success rates rise even further when tracking takes place more often. Here, tracking of the goal will be beneficial as least once every two weeks. You may build mini goals into the primary goal, to help increase motivation and give an opportunity to use a reward system. Tracking your progress will yield concrete data pertaining to the success of your goal. Answer some questions to gather tangible data; Were successful projects submitted? Is revenue up and by how much? Have I completed online courses? Did I gain knowledge through reading any books or articles that will further me professionally? Did I use rewards to help instill behavior towards the goal? The answers to these questions will give you the ability to measure your progress toward your goal.
How To Track
We now know that tracking progress towards your goal is essential for a higher success rate, and the importance of the frequency of tracking progress. So, let’s talk about how to track your goals physically. As mentioned above, there are many ways available to track one’s goals. All of them effective, as long as they produce tangible, concrete evidence of progress.
- Log with Paper and Pen – Tracking your goal can be as simple as writing your progress down. There are lots of ways you can make this method work. The way you implement it should be the way that makes the most sense and is easiest for you. Pen and paper tracking may feel more organized with use of a calendar or a planner. This way, you can distinguish the exact dates that you tracked and how you progressed on that day. Some might feel more comfortable using a notebook or sticky notes to track progress.
- Spreadsheets, Apps or Digitally – In this day and age, many people find it more convenient to track goal progress digitally. Most people spend a lot of time during the day near their smartphones, computers or our smartwatches, so this method may work well for people who use technology often. Computer programs such as Google Sheets or Google Docs are useful tools for logging. There are various apps that help cell phone users track goals. ATracker and Coach.me are two of them. These were specifically designed with goal tracking in mind. There are many goal tracking apps free to use, simple and effective. Another very convenient way to track your goal progress is with a smartwatch. This is perfect if your goal is exercise related. Many smartwatches have built in fitness trackers, step counters and heart rate monitors. Even if exercise is not your current goal, you can use the calendar or notes section of your smartwatch as a method of tracking.
- Kanban or Scrum Boards- These boards are used to track goals that are in progress, visually. You can make them by hand or digitally, using a computer program or app. Kanban and scrum boards are similar, however the scrum method is more rigid, using specific instructions. Kanban boards are more fluid and allow for a little more adaptation from the user. Visualization boards are an effective goal tracking method because they help the user stay organized, engaged and focused on the goal.
There are various ways to start tracking your progress to see the changes and accomplishments you’ve made towards your goals. It’s important to choose the system or several systems that work best in your life. Logging your progress is a crucial part of achieving your goals. Progress tracking will help you stay motivated and provide opportunities for incentives through your reward system. Remember, though, that although there is an abundance of tracking methods out there, they are only as effective as the user makes them -they will only work if you make them work for you.
Where To Go From Here with Tracking Your Progress
Setting personal and professional goals is an important skill in advancing and propelling your life forward. When setting goals, be sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant to your life and have time constraints. If you can make your goals match these specifications, you will have a higher success rate in achieving them. Tracking your goal is another factor that will help to ensure your success. Now that you have good goals set and you are tracking your progress, it’s crucial to remember that goals should be fluid. No one is perfect, sometimes goals are not met or they are not met in the allotted time frame, and that is okay. As people, we change over time and so your goals will too.
Goals can, and should be adjustable as often as needed. Whether you are changing your long-term or short-term goals, goal fluidity might feel stressful or risky. But one key to good goal setting is that the goal must apply to your life. So, aligning your goals with your current life is crucial. And though a shift may feel uncomfortable, it’s sometimes necessary. Think critically about what you really want in life, and if your current goals no longer match up, it may be time to adjust as needed. There are many potential reasons your goals may need adjusting.
Newly discovered information or connections that have opened the possibility of a new goal – Life is full of new experiences, new people, and new ideas. You may run into something along the path of your current goal that interests you more or changes your mind away from the current goal.
Mistakes or disappointments – It’s possible that even if you have done everything right in attempting to achieve your goal, it just doesn’t work out. Failure is a part of life. You may realize that the goal was not as attainable as you once thought, or that the effort and time it will take is not worth the potential result.
Life changes – Everyone’s life is subject to change at any moment. Maybe you will move to a new area, get married, get pregnant, have a death in the family- whatever it is, your goals should align with your current life status.
Even though it’s human nature to resist change, nothing in life ever stays stagnant. So, instead of fighting change, make it work for you. Embracing change means training yourself for the ability to see upcoming opportunities, to be flexible and to keep an open mind. New opportunities and connections may arise that are more helpful than the current plans you have, so remain flexible and open.
Besides changing your goals all together, your goals will need small tweaks along the way to make sure they are still working well for you. While you are tracking your progress, it’s important to self analyze. Ask yourself if you’re still happy, excited and motivated towards your goal. Have there been any roadblocks along the way that can be planned for or avoided moving forward? Are there any improvements to the timing, tracking, or rewards system that you are using? If so, make changes to make sure that your goal is still workable and relevant. Setting new goals should be a part of your change, growth and advancement. Building onto your current goals will help you pinpoint what you really want to achieve. Setting new goals and revising current goals will help to ensure that you are striving to improve yourself, and your life.
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would be honored to connect with you further as you build and grow your business. Take a look at my most popular ongoing training to see if syndicating the content you are creating and sharing with people all over the world who have an interest in your topic is right for you.