Tracking your progress is the seventh and last part in my goal setting series (Congratulations, you’re almost there!)
This step doesn’t take long to do, but it’s really helpful when you’ve set long-term goals and to help you to prevent falling back into old habits.
Only after you’ve accomplished your goal will you know precisely what it took to achieve them. That means, when you set your plan at the beginning you were making your best estimate or prediction about what it would take. Often you’re wrong. If you took adequate time at the beginning, these missteps could not have been prevented. You need to actually get into executing your plan before you could realize that something wasn’t working.
Tracking progress is how you are able to stop missteps early, so you aren’t derailed. By taking notes, daily, week, or at least monthly about your progress, you can find out early on what’s working, what’s not, what adjustments you need to make, or do you need to fundamentally change course?
Do I need to make tweaks or keep doing what I am doing?
If you’ve set your goals too high, you may find that you need to scale back the pace. If you’ve set your goals to low you may need to step up them up. If you’ve found unforeseen roadblocks (Step 4) then adjust your plan to address them directly. It is important to use the data you’ve collected to make sound decisions on whether you need to adapt or stay the course. That guards against changing your game plan too soon or after minor dips or spikes in your results. Few things are more damaging to your achievement of goals than instability. Stay consistent, especially with your tracking.
You cannot improve what you don’t measure
Also, be honest with yourself. If you aren’t the only person you are fooling is you. Remember this is a process. The data helps us track our progress and move in the right direction.
Creating a paper trail
If you run into major trouble along the way, having evaluation notes gives you the ability to get back on track faster. It’s like you’re leaving a paper trail that gets you back on track, because you can identify what threw you off. Often you don’t know you’ve gone off course until things get really bad.