The tools presented below are the glue that keeps a goal-setting system together. The more of them you’ve got keeping your system intact, the more valuable it is to have them around. Here are some suggestions for tools and how to get the most out of them.
Why Does Goal Setting Matter?
Before getting into the specific tools for goal setting, it pays to know why it’s worth tracking and setting goals in the first place.
The largest reason to consider tracking and setting goals is the fact that our goals change the older we get. You develop new priorities as you get older, and your goals in your twenties are going to be different than the goals you’ll be setting in your forties or fifties((Positive Psychology: The Importance, Benefits, and Value of Goal Setting)).
The fact that your goals are going to be shifting means that it’ll be helpful to have some way of tracking and setting goals. Another way to be looking at this is that setting goals give you a direction to go in life. Similar to a compass, it leads you to your destination in due time. Tracking goals is like a map, and if you know where you are going, it will ensure you are still going the right way and that your pace is still good.
15 Best Tools for Goal Setting
The list of potential tools for goal setting is extensive. From physical objects to apps, you have options to customize your map. Here are my suggestions and how to best leverage them.
Online Resources for Goal Setting
Some people work best when technology is involved to simplify the process. If you’re one of those people, get started with these apps and platforms today.
Basecamp is a platform created by Google for project management. While it’s built for groups to help organize teams, there are features that help an individual in setting goals.
Through this tool, you’ll be able to create multiple to-do lists that cover various sections of your life. Better yet, you’re able to set yourself deadlines and assign several goals into those sections. What this does is effectively set milestones for you to complete.
Best of all is that this is free to use so long as you have a Gmail account.
2. Goal Buddy
Another free platform to consider is Goal Buddy. This one is an actual goal-setting system that puts you through the paces to create SMART goals. You can then use the same platform to track your progress and keep yourself focused on the goals ahead.
For those considering one of the more in-depth tools for goal setting, Lifetick is a worthwhile option. This app is great for those who don’t know their core values or feel stuck with what to do.
This app dives into identifying your core values and then offers a platform for you to set SMART goals and begin tracking them.
4. Milestone Planner
Milestone Planner is a goal-setting platform that makes setting goals and tracking them easier. It gives you an opportunity to brainstorm, visualize, and track your goals all in one.
To-do lists are powerful as they are like mini-goals that lead into your bigger goals. Todoist is like that, but it allows you the opportunity to set more significant goals as well. That way, you’re able to keep track of what your small goals are leading to without having to set them aside or try to recall it every time because of app limitations.
6. Single Step
Another in-depth app to consider is Single Step as this platform identifies areas in your life that are significant to you and that are worth striving for. The app also gives you graphs, charts, and other visual aids to help you track and moniter progress.
7. Move Mountains
This platform is an impactful one. Move Mountains is a free platform that offers various courses to help you stay motivated on your goals. It’s ideal for people who need a coach to keep them accountable.
8. Habit List
Another perspective to goals is that goals are nothing more than a build-up of habits. For example, if you want to lose weight, you’ll develop a habit of exercising more or change your eating habits if necessary. Habit List focuses on the habit aspect.
It’s only available on iPhones, but it’s still an intuitive tool for goal setting that’s worth trying if you can.
StikK is a platform that adds in some extra accountability for those that need it. Use it for yourself or in a group, and you can begin prioritizing your goals.
On the surface, you can use this for simple tracking and setting of your goals, but where you can get the most out of it is through that extra accountability. StikK makes it easy for you to set your goals in such a way where if you don’t complete the goal in time, you’ll donate money to something.
This is a similar idea to giving money to a friend and asking for it back after you complete your goal within a period of time. But if you don’t complete it in time, they get to keep it. All in all, it adds an extra incentive as no one wants to give money away for free, especially when it can be avoided.
Similar to Lifetick, Goalscape offers a more refined and detailed interface for you to look at. It considers all aspects of your life and allows you to prioritize certain aspects. Overall, this provides great information that helps you to visualize what must be done in your life.
Traditional Methods for Goal Setting
Some people prefer to have a constant visual or place to write down their goals. If that’s you, incorporate these materials into your life to make sure you’re setting your goals right.
1. Post-It Notes
While there are many perks to using online platforms like the ones mentioned above, sometimes you need to go back to traditional methods, and it pays to do so. In this day and age, we are so used to typing things out or using various online tools to enhance our lives.
While that’s great, going back to traditional pen and paper to jot down goals or to-do lists can be just as powerful.
Considering the fact we don’t write as much, there is statistically higher odds of you succeeding when you define goals and write them down((New Tech: The Psychology Of Writing Down Goals)). One way to facilitate that is to have some Post-it notes available. They’re small and compact, so they won’t take up much space.
2. A Whiteboard
On a similar note, another helpful tool is a whiteboard. It follows the same principals as the Post-it notes in that you have a surface where you can jot down notes, goals, and ideas easier and can get more creative with it through the form of colored markers.
But one other thing you can do with a whiteboard is better map out your month or a week at a time. What’s nice is that you have a convenient spot to turn back to rather than hopping to various pages on an app or platform.
3. A Journal
Another great tool to consider is a journal. While there are specific journals that you can use, my suggestion is to go with one of the non-goal setting formatted ones. A journal provides an opportunity for you to write more details and to create dedicated sections to particular things using your particular style.
While goal-setting journals are formatted that same way, they often focus on giving you space to write down goals and not much else.
A blank journal can allow you to jot down ideas of what’s working for you and what isn’t. You can use it to record how you feel or maybe jot down quotes that inspire and motivate you.
4. Support System
Apps like StikK or Basecamp work better when you’re with a group. However, a group of friends on their own is just as impactful. A group of friends impacts on your life both directly and indirectly.
Research shows that those that are in our inner and outer circle do play a role in our overall social behavior((Journal of Cognition and Culture: Connected: The Surprising Power of our Social Networks and How they Shape our Lives)). This also includes the goals that you set and your chances of achieving them. If you’re around a group of people who aren’t setting goals, it’s harder for you to achieve them as they are rubbing off on you.
On the other hand, when you have people who care about your goals and are striving to succeed themselves, you’ll find it easier to rely on them and get to where you want to go.
The “One Year From Now” Exercise
This isn’t so much a tool, but a way that can lead into using some of these tools. The whole premise of this exercise is to ask yourself where you want to be one year from now.
This isn’t a broad stroke though. You want to focus on five aspects: your work, home, finances, relationships, and yourself. Some more specific questions to ask in these areas are:
- Work: What job will you be working? How will you be working towards the life you want?
- Home: Are you looking to save for a home or buy one? Are you happy with your current living conditions? Are there any home improvement projects you have in mind?
- Finances: Are there any debts you wish to pay off? Is there something you are saving up for specifically?
- Relationships: Are you happy with your partner? Have you been thinking of marriage? How much value are you getting from the closest relationships you have right now?
- Yourself: How do you want to feel one year from now? What parts of your personality do you want to develop?
The idea with this exercise is to jot down enough to create a plan for where you’ll be in the future. From there you can narrow it down to monthly goals and daily tasks.
Technology has opened up the gateway for many ways for us to set and track goals, but it never hurts to go back to basics and use the traditional methods. Regardless of what tools for goal setting you want to use, both digital and non-digital tools are impactful and have their roles to play. All that matters is that you use the best tool for you get started on your goals today.