Key learning outcomes:
- Learn that regular assessment of your progress in achieving goals will ensure you stay on track.
- Develop time frames to ensure goals are effective.
- Understand the benefits of a numerical tracking system to provide a clear view of progress in achieving your goal.
- Recognise the value of an attributes tracking system when specific skills will help you to achieve your goal.
We know that the most successful people not only set goals, they also track their progress on a regular basis. By doing this they are able to identify very quickly when they are heading off track or are running behind target. They can then adjust quickly rather than wait, only to find there is too much ground to make up. To illustrate this, think about boats. It takes a lot of effort for a large ocean liner, for example, to switch course. As a result, it is unable to make sudden changes in direction. Similarly, if you do not regularly check on your progress, there will be no time to make any necessary changes before your deadline. You want to be more like a speedboat: fast, agile and able to make lots of small twists and turns. In this article, we work through two tracking systems that allow you to regularly measure your progress towards achieving a goal or target so you can easily assess whether you are on track for success.
Always define a time frame
When goal-setting, it is important to remember that for a goal to be effective it should be time-bound, that is, it should have a deadline. The time frame that you set for your goal will to some degree determine how often you will need to review your progress. If you are operating with a short-term goal that has a deadline of just 7 or 14 days, then you will probably want to track your progress on a daily basis. If on the other hand you aim to achieve your goal over 12 months, a monthly review might be sufficient.[wlm_ismember]
Tracking by the numbers
If you are working towards a financial or numerical goal, we find one of the easiest ways to track your progress is with a simple table or spreadsheet. As an example, let’s look at how to track a goal to achieve a sales target of $300,000 over a 12-month period.
Step one: Determine how often you will review the progress. In this example we will assume that the review will be done on a monthly basis.
Step two: Break the larger goal down by the number of reviews. In our example, this will be $300,000 divided by 12 months; therefore, the goal becomes $25,000 per month.
Step three: Place these figures in a table or spreadsheet as shown below:
Each month the result is added to the table, and a cumulative total is calculated. This allows for a monthly assessment of whether the person is on track or off track to achieve the goal. This is reflected in the final row (refer to the +/– equation).
The following is the completed table at the end of a 12-month period.
This simple tool allows for a visual representation of a person’s progress towards the desired end result. In some industries it can be useful to break the goal down by 10 or 11 rather than 12 months to allow for annual leave and holiday periods, to give a more accurate monthly target figure. In the example below, the $300,000 target is divided by 10 months, making the monthly target $30,000 per month with January and July counted as zero.
It is interesting to note that while the performance is the same in both tables, breaking the target down into 10 rather than 12 months shows that the person was on target to achieve their goal all year, and this is likely to have had the added benefit of keeping motivation levels high.
Tracking by attributes
This system was inspired by Australian Winter Olympics champion, Alisa Camplin. She used a version of this tool to track her progress over a seven-year period as she worked towards her goal of winning an Olympic gold medal. The model is ideal when you are working towards a goal that requires you to work on a number of skills or areas in order to achieve success. To illustrate, we will use an example of a goal to run the New York marathon in nine months time.
Step one: Determine what attributes you require to be able to compete in the marathon. These might be fitness, coaching, mental, nutrition, entry, finances and logistics. You then need to determine a score out of 10 for each of them which will ensure success.
One of the ways that you can do this is to score someone who has already achieved the goal. For example, when Alisa Camplin first began her pursuit of Olympic glory, she asked the manager of the current world champion in the sport to set the goal scores for her. This gave her an accurate target to work towards. Bear in mind you might not need to have a score of 10 for all attributes to successfully achieve the goal.
Step two: Score your current reality for each of these attributes out of 10. So for example:
- Fitness – 6 (you are already a competent runner)
- Coaching – 0 (you do not have a coach)
- Mental – 4 (you have had issues with confidence in the past)
- Nutrition – 3 (you eat well but have no real plan)
- Entry – 0 (with no direct entry you have to fundraise to be eligible)
- Finances – 4 (you have saved for part of the trip)
- Logistics – 0 (you have not booked or planned anything yet)
Now add up your score out of 70 and put all of these elements into the diagram below:
On the left side of the triangle is the time frame, which is nine months in this case. And on the right side are the progress scores. Each month you need to re-do the exercise of scoring each of the seven attributes out of 10, so you keep track of your progress and do additional work in areas you might be falling behind in. For example, the scores after three months may look like the following:
- Fitness – 8 (your running times are improving and you are on track)
- Coaching – 8 (you have developed a relationship with a coach)
- Mental – 4 (you have not worked on this area)
- Nutrition – 3 (you have not changed your diet)
- Entry – 2 (you have been accepted into the event subject to fundraising)
- Finances – 4 (you are in the same financial situation)
- Logistics – 2 (you have booked your flights)
This would give you a score of 31/70. You can clearly see which areas require additional work to ensure that you stay on track for successful achievement of your goal.
We find this tool an excellent way to track the activities and attributes that are required for success rather than the outcome or result. This can be particularly helpful when the goal is long term, and the end result may seem too far into the future to ensure you stay motivated.
Other tracking options
These are just two examples of tools we use with our clients and in the Absolute Best office that can help you to track your progress towards your goals. You will find that there are many other options available to you. Using a whiteboard can be another visual aid that keeps your targets and goals front of mind. We also know many people who successfully track their goals in a small notebook that they carry with them all the time. There are also many software applications available for use on your computer or phone.
Remember that it does not matter which method or tool you use. The essential thing is that you track your progress on a regular basis to ensure that you stay on track for success.[/wlm_ismember]
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