How A Goal Setting Chart Can Make You More Productive

An interesting phenomenon is that of someone who enjoys goal setting but shies away from charting their progress. In my coaching experience the clients who regularly take a reality check on where they are with their goals, have an advantage of being able to adjust their approach based on relevant and up-to-date feedback. This article takes a look at how a goal setting chart can be an effective structure in moving you productively toward your goal.

Charting will work best with quantitative goals this is the type of goal that has a benchmark or metric that you can measure yourself against. For example if you set a goal to earn $10,000 net monthly recurring income or better, that is clearly a goal you can measure yourself against each month.

Setting a qualitative goal is nonsensical in my coaching experience — mainly because it is impossible to reliably measure progress. So for example when a client tells me they have set a goal to enjoy building a business that helps job hunters improve their job hunting skills, I often challenge them on whether that is a goal or a vision. It is important to set a vision and a mission statement for any new business – and perhaps even for personal goals too, since career and personal lives are often intertwined. However, by their very nature they are usually more open ended than goals per se, and primarily fueled by expectation, emotion and desire in their phrasing. And that makes them difficult to measure — which is fine because goals on their own are like flowers without soil, sun and water to grow in. Most won’t make it and for those that do, they won’t last long.

What works for many people is to set goals that are effectively objectives or milestones along the way to fulfilling the vision. Remember that a vision statement is often a lifetime or at least a vocational desire that can evolve as time moves on and life unfolds. By setting objective oriented goals and then charting their progress on a monthly basis, the effort and time put into achieving them is measurable and also contributes to the experience of living your vision and staying true to your mission statement.

How should you go about creating a goal setting chart? The easiest way to begin is to take a sheet of graph paper and write the months January to December along the horizontal axis. The goal objective is tracked on the vertical axis. For example if my goal is to publish a total of six information products in my primary market within 12 months, I can make the vertical axis start from zero and go up to 10. Then each month I can put a mark on the graph paper corresponding to the total number of products I have published. By joining the dots you can see graphically the results over time.

This graph then becomes the plain truth that you can choose to use as constructive feedback. If you also mark in a different color the predicted number for that month (you do forecast, don’t you?) it is immediately obvious from the 2 colored lines if you are on track or not. In some cases, if your goal is temporarily too ambitious for the time, energy and skill level you can currently bring to it, the chart can help you to course-correct by perhaps changing the goal metrics or getting some additional resources to help you.

The numbers themselves really don’t lie although our interpretation of them may sometimes be suspect! Nonetheless, once you get hooked on the constructive feedback available from a paper goal setting chart, you can move on to using software tools such as microsoft excel or the various alternatives to microsoft products. These allow you to quickly update the chart and to print a hard copy, as well as also publishing the chart online for others to see.

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