The first mistake people make, especially at the beginning of the year, is trying to achieve too many goals all at once. The second mistake is expecting immediate progress. It’s pretty unrealistic to think you’ll start eating better, working out, and getting eight hours of sleep—overnight!
A superior approach is to identify and build keystone habits, an idea outlined in Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. As an article on A Life of Productivity explains, Keystone habits, “create a chain reaction; changing and rearranging your other habits as you integrate the habit into your life.” They have three characteristics: They “give you numerous small senses of victory,” “serve as the soil from which other habits grow,” and “give you energy and confidence to do more.”
Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich, writes that, “the starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” Behind every goal lies a deeper reason that is motivating your desire for change or achievement. Unfortunately, these greater reasons for career or personal change often get lost amid the daily noise of emails, events, and immediate deliverables. Without them, it’s easy to become discouraged. Even if you’re steadily maintaining your new habits, what will happen you face challenges or a plateau?
The success of any viable corporation is measured through daily accountability, quantifiable progress, and recognition of smaller—as well as larger—milestones. Likewise, your year-long goals should be broken down into measurable pieces, during which time you hold yourself accountable and celebrate achievements.
There are many user-friendly apps to track progress toward personal and professional goals, using real-time data. For fitness, Seven challenges even the busiest person to do just seven minutes of high-intensity workouts each day for seven months—using no more than a chair, a wall, and your own body weight. This app guides you through the workouts with illustrations, timers, and spoken instructions while tracking your progress on graphs and calendars. Charlie App makes meeting prep painless by syncing with your Google calendar and doing automated research on your new contact. The app combs the internet and sends you a one-pager on your contact’s social profiles, bios, interests, and as well as their tweets and common connections. And Wunderlist lists daily priorities, sets reminders, and categorizes tasks.
At the end of each month, use the aggregate information to study your progression and highlight any areas needing attention. Then, make the journey more meaningful by celebrating growth, small or large. Spotlight mid-year achievements with a special trip or treat. Send thank you gifts or take friends who’ve been there for you out to dinner. Balancing the discipline and professionalism of a business mindset with gratitude and self-love creates a motivating environment for growth.
Every new goal is an opportunity to grow, personally or professionally. Use these effective and integrated tips to track progress and achieve your goals in an Infinite Blue Ocean.