Goal monitoring Skills - How to Know progress is being made  

-   James Stevenson, EMCC Accredited Coach, Applied Positive Psychologist and Coaching Psychologist -

When it comes to your goals you want to know you're going in the right direction and not kidding yourself. What's the best way to go about this?

The goal monitoring tips below will help you keep track of your progress so you know exactly where you are. This will set you up nicely for empowered and flexible responses.

The major skills in goal monitoring are to do with setting a goal that can be measured allowing for accurate tracking. It's also important to know when to make goal adjustments and when to leave it alone. 

Adjusting the way you measure

Choosing a goal that can be measured will cause you to take action that you wouldn't have taken if you didn't set the goal. This is because it gives you accurate feedback. You know for sure if your way off or on target. When you've given some thought to how you'll check on progress you'll feel the motivation created by the goal. 

Playing around with your way of measuring and getting it just right can be difficult.

Here are some things that can be measured and therefore monitored: 

  1. Dollars
  2. Kg's
  3. Miles
  4. Hours
  5. Scores
  6. Number of something (people, conversations, calories, etc)
  7. Time (hours, days, months, years etc)

One way to check if it's measurable is to imagine you're about half way. You're taken to court and the lawyer is trying to prove you're not half way there. What evidence can you present that would support your case? What would exhibit A be?

Bumpy roads lead to best places quote MaraboliWhere is your bumpy road leading? Have you decided yet?

Alternatively, imagine you are presenting your case to a potential investor. They want to see evidence of progress before they invest. What could you show them that would give them confidence and assurance?

Knowing you are actually 20% closer can energise and stir things within you. Likewise, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, or the finishing line, can bring forth extra strength. I'm a huge fan of sports and athletics for this reason. Watching what happens on the final lap when the bell goes is thrilling. You can create similar dynamics within yourself!

Making adjustments at the early stages 

Once you've set a goal and you start taking action you get your first taste of the reality. The reality of the gap between you and your target and what it's like to actually do things. 

Henry Ford quote about characterIs our depth of character growing as days pass?

This is a vital moment for you as a goal setter. I encourage adjustments at this early stage to create a disappointment-free forward momentum. This is because considering your current ability is such an important factor in successful goal setting. It can be easy to get carried away when thinking about your goal and forget your current ability. This is a recipe for giving up.

As you actually start taking your first steps, you may begin to sense that the goal is not challenging enough or is unrealistic. The ability to be flexible and adjust your goals, and be totally shame-free in doing so, at this early stage will massively support your progress. Your ability will develop nicely when nurtured.

Goal monitoring - using visuals to track progress

One types of goals that you may want to monitor is a certain number of something within a certain timeframe. For example...

  • 10 jogs a month
  • 3 vegetables a day
  • 5 friends a week
  • 50km a week
  • 4 gym sessions a week
  • 6 early nights a week
  • 10 sales a day
  • 1 hour of TV

For this kind of goal, a simple list of ticks can work well. Or drawing the correct number of tick boxes and filling it out. Knowing progress is great, seeing it is even better. 

If you have these kinds of frequency goals where you want to know how often per month something happens and you want to check for any changes month by month, you can use a simple calendar for this. I use a code for each of the things I'm counting so I can compare month by month and year by year. 

This awareness often inspires me. It feels good to know the reality of things. To be grounded in self-knowledge. 

If you want to measure things like mood, satisfaction, stress, or anxiety for example you can use scaling questions (what is it out of 1 to 10? or 1 to 100?).  If you miss the odd day it's ok as well. You can just work out a monthly average from the data you have. This also goes on my calendar so I have something to monitor. It often stirs inspiration and motivation. 

Of course you may want to get creative like some of my clients have, and draw a racing track with a celebratory image at the end, or image of you filling up with something. For the arty among you, there is plenty of opportunities when it comes to goal monitoring visuals.  

and finally...

If you practise these goal monitoring tips you'll be a step closer to becoming an excellent goal setter, finding the sweet spot to creating your own motivation in any situation.  

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James Stevenson is the owner of WiseGoals.com and a qualified and accredited wellbeing and philosophy coach.

He works with clients in an patient, understanding and creative way to help them apply great philosophical ideas and psychological scientific findings so they can flourish in a way that leads to them also contributing to a better world.

The development of a strong sense of mattering and agency, alongside deep understanding of inner and outer obstacles give clients a powerful coaching experience. More about James here

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