While you can’t lean on the latest app to set your goals for you, it’s possible to use some clever tech to track your progress. Alister Maple-Brown from Rockend offers five steps you can follow to keep motivated and on track in the New Year.
While technology isn’t a wand you can wave to magically achieve your goals, it can help you stay motivated, track your progress and measure your results.
1. UNPLUG YOUR MIND
Setting goals is all about capturing your vision, and while tech sometimes helps it can’t do the hard thinking for you.
Take some uninterrupted time; early in the morning over coffee, later in the afternoon while taking a walk, or perhaps during the evening when you’re enjoying a much-deserved soak in the tub. Sitting at your desk is not necessarily the most conducive environment for brainstorming, so pick a time and place when you can do your best thinking.
And don’t forget to talk to others. Conversation can help you clarify your ‘why’.
2. WRITE IT DOWN
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. We can all benefit from writing down our goals, though all too often we don’t. Writing your goals down is the first step to making them a reality. Yes, it takes time. But there’s a major difference between what’s going on in your head and ideas you’ve taken the time to write down.
Put pen to paper, scribble on a whiteboard or tap it out on your iPad. Use the tools that you’re most comfortable with to record your goals.
Once you’ve written them down, it’s time to break them down. Break each of your goals into smaller, more attainable milestones and tasks to plot your path and help you build momentum.
3. KEEP IT VISUAL
To achieve a goal, you need to find ways to keep it fresh in your mind. That’s how you’ll find the motivation to stay on target.
We all have a friend who’s made a New Year’s ‘get fit’ resolution. Or maybe you know someone who keeps a photo of their dream car in their wallet. There’s a definite method to this madness.
You might even consider using a simple online reminder tool, like ‘memo to me’, to send yourself an email every monday morning to remind you of your goals.
Use visual tools to keep your goals consistently in front of you. Print them out and pin them on the wall next to your computer. Add them to your computer’s desktop wallpaper. You might even consider using a simple online reminder tool, like ‘Memo To Me’, to send yourself an email every Monday morning setting out your goals, so you start the week with them top of mind.
The most important thing is that your goals are never far from your thoughts.
4. BE ACCOUNTABLE
When I think about how to use technology for typically non-technological things (which is kind of how I see goal-setting), I like to remind myself about what technology can and can’t do.
In and of itself, technology can’t achieve your goals for you. But what it can do is help you to automate routine functions, share information and schedule tasks – three things that you can leverage to help you work on your goals.
AUTOMATE Ask yourself if there are routine functions involved in reaching your goals that you can automate. Then use technology to your advantage. Let’s say one of your goals is to make better use of the data you collect to inform your decisions. You can automate a weekly report of the relevant data and when that report pops up in your inbox it will remind you to make use of the information.
SHARE Some people are more motivated to reach their goals when they tell others about them. If this sounds like you, then use technology to share your goals with others. Share on social media, via email or use your agency’s intranet. Telling others will help keep you accountable.
SCHEDULE What steps do you need to take to reach your goal and when should each one occur to keep you on target? You could use full-blown project management software for scheduling (like Basecamp, Trello or Asana), but it’s not a must. Take advantage of the tools and apps you already use. Put tasks into your calendar in Outlook, Google or on your smartphone. But if a paper diary is most effective for you, use it. It’s also not a bad idea to schedule monthly appointments that simply read ‘Review goals’.
5. METRICS MATTER
To achieve your goals, you need to work backwards to define your metrics. Metrics will help gauge your progress toward your end goal, but it’s essential that they’re readily accessible and easy to understand.
Here’s where technology can help. Enter dashboards. The purpose of a business dashboard is to aggregate and extract value from all the data you collect and simplify this into more manageable chunks of visual information. This means you can see what you’re doing right, where you need to improve and whether you’re on track to achieve your goals.
Remember, setting and achieving your goals isn’t always about shiny new technology or the latest app. Sometimes the best tech is low tech or no tech at all.