GoalsOnTrack Blog

A systematic approach to achieving goals and getting results.

Goal-setting Tips From A World Series Champion

By Dr. Jason Selk LPC, NCC

A financial advisor I work with said the following about his 2012 goals, “I like to set my goals high because it will get me close to where I need to be. If I tell myself I am going to contact twenty clients a day, I know I will at least end up with twelve, thirteen–maybe fifteen–contacts a day.”

At first glance, the financial advisor’s approach makes sense. However, there is one MAJOR flaw: the set-it-high-and-come-close approach teaches individuals that they do not accomplish what they set their minds to. This becomes a real issue when the pressure is on.

Imagine what happens to the set-it-high-and-come-close individual when roadblocks to success appear (you get sick, the market makes a dramatic turn for the worse, or any number of things that you can’t control). Using the financial advisor’s logic, you will have taught yourself that you don’t accomplish what you set your mind to, and when roadblocks appear, your success will unravel. Translation: the set-it-high-and-come-close mentality only works when everything is going well. Unfortunately everything doesn’t go well very often, and in the long run, you’ve set yourself up to fail.

It is important to learn to always do what you set out to do. When it comes to achieving both daily and annual goals, I strongly encourage my clients to identify and fully commit to the bare minimum of what is necessary for greatness.

The financial advisor knows he needs to make at least twelve current client contacts and three prospective client contacts each day if he is going to achieve his production goals. If he consistently does so, he will know, even in tough times, he ALWAYS accomplishes his goals.

The secret is to consistently practice the daily activities needed to produce results. If you have a day where you literally can’t finish what you know needs to be done then use a two-, three-, or four-day working average to accomplish your goals.

For example, if the financial advisor receives an emergency call from home after completing only six of his contact calls, then he needs to do more than fifteen calls over the next few days to get his working average back up to 100%. And be sure to accomplish this working day average within one week, as it begins to be overwhelming to increase discipline for longer periods.

Become known as the person who always accomplishes the goals he sets for himself and you will become like the go-to athlete who gets the ball at the end of the game. When you always do what you set out to do, you learn to be the one who always gets it done–especially when the pressure is on and it matters the most.

New Feature: Goal Templates

We have launched a new feature called “Goal Templates” in GoalsOnTrack. This feature allows you to create your own goal templates from your accomplished goals, and then later re-use these templates when you need to set and work on similar goals.

A goal template will help you automatically create the main goal, subgoals, tasks, and even habits. This is a great way to reuse any short term and recurring goals that you may find yourself work on weekly or monthly. Here is a few instructions on how to make use of this new feature.

1. Create a Goal Template

Go to “Goals” page. For each goal, there is a new button now called “Create Template”. Click on it and you will see the template creation form. Remember that every template must be based on a goal, so if you delete that goal, the template linked to it will also be deleted. Once you have created some templates, they will be displayed on “Goal Templates” page, which can be accessed from the “Templates” button on the top title bar of the “Goals” page.

Weight Loss Goal Template

Weight Loss Goal Template

2. Use a Goal Template

To create goals from a goal template, simply click on “Use Template” button for that template. You can specify the new start and end dates for the goal you want to create. Please note that once a goal is created from a template, it then becomes a separate and independent goal and will have nothing to do with the template anymore. Changes to either the template or the created goal will not affect neither of two.

How to Use a Weight Loss Goal Template

How to Use a Weight Loss Goal Template

When creating goals from templates, the task and subgoal dates will be automatically adjusted according to the main goal, based on its original goal structure. You may change them anyway you like, or change the original goal so that these changes will be seen from future goals created from the template.

Hope you enjoy and find this new feature useful. As always, please let us know if you have any feedback or find any bugs. Also we’ll be adding some sample goal templates to help you set certain goals or create action plans more easily. Stay tuned.

Success is Easy, But so is Neglect

By Jim Rohn

People often ask me how I became successful in that six-year period of time while many of the people I knew did not. The answer is simple: The things I found to be easy to do, they found to be easy not to do.

I found it easy to set the goals that could change my life. They found it easy not to. I found it easy to read the books that could affect my thinking and my ideas. They found that easy not to. I found it easy to attend the classes and the seminars, and to get around other successful people. They said it probably really wouldn’t matter.

If I had to sum it up, I would say what I found to be easy to do, they found to be easy not to do. Six years later, I’m a millionaire and they are all still blaming the economy, the government and company policies, yet they neglected to do the basic, easy things.

In fact, the primary reason most people are not doing as well as they could and should, can be summed up in a single word: neglect .

It is not the lack of money - banks are full of money. It is not the lack of opportunity - America, and much of the free World, continues to offer the most unprecedented and abundant opportunities in the last six thousand years of recorded history.

It is not the lack of books - libraries are full of books - and they are free! It is not the schools - the classrooms are full of good teachers. We have plenty of ministers, leaders, counselors and advisors.

Everything we would ever need to become rich and powerful and sophisticated is within our reach. The major reason that so few take advantage of all that we have is simply, neglect.

Neglect is like an infection. Left unchecked it will spread throughout our entire system of disciplines and eventually lead to a complete breakdown of a potentially joy-filled and prosperous human life.

Not doing the things we know we should do causes us to feel guilty and guilt leads to an erosion of self-confidence. As our self-confidence diminishes, so does the level of our activity. And as our activity diminishes, our results inevitably decline. And as our results suffer, our attitude begins to weaken. And as our attitude begins the slow shift from positive to negative, our self-confidence diminishes even more … and on and on it goes.

So my suggestion is that when giving the choice of “easy to” and “easy not to” that you do not neglect to do the simple, basic, “easy”; but potentially life-changing activities and disciplines.

iPhone App Update - version 1.0.5

A new update has been released for GoalsOnTrack iPhone app. It has a few fixes for syncing data between iPhone app and web app. If you are having problems with syncing data, you may want to try this new update.

If you need to reset your entire account data, please make sure you delete your old version first before downloading the new version. Also send us a message with your login username so that we could reset your sync key.

The new update can be downloaded at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/goalsontrack/id494953613

Do This to Double Your Productivity

When it comes to productivity, we often tend to think of it as how to get more done in less time. But getting more done doe not necessarily mean we will get the real results we want. In my view, productivity should be more about getting the most important things done, in the time when you are most energetic and at peak performance.

To accomplish that, a simple yet often neglected method is to form the habit of prioritizing your daily to-do list. I’d like to share a quick prioritization method I learned from a Brain Tracy’s book that has at least doubled my productivity.

Simply put, given any number of daily tasks, before we do anything about them, we first give each task or to-do item a tag, such as A, B, C, D, or E. Here is what each of them represents.

A - means this is a “A-list” task. It’s the most important thing for our goals, especially for the long term.

B - means “better get it done”. It’s something we should do, things other people or circumstances depend or wait on us. Or, if not done, it will surely cause us trouble or take more time to fix later.

C - means “carry on” task. It’s what we normally do to carry on with our life, to continue our work or projects, or routine tasks that we need to do, or daily chores etc.

D - means “delegate to someone else”. It’s for things that really should be given to someone else to do, and they also include things that we should check on others for status or results.

E - means “eliminate it”. This is something we simply shouldn’t do at all.

Once we have prioritized our tasks with these tags, sort them out and we will have a list starting with A tasks, then Bs, Cs, etc. With GoalsOnTrack, you simply give each task a Tag “A”, “B”, etc. Then on Dashboard page you can easily sort them by the tags.

Here comes the most import part of the whole idea. The real trick is to never work on B tasks, without first finishing A tasks. Never work on C tasks, without first completing both A and B tasks. So on so forth.

The benefit of working your daily to-dos this way is that you will get the most important things done first, when you are most energetic (because you haven’t wasted your energy on other less important or unimportant things yet). What’s more, if you happen to only complete half of your list, you still end up having the more important half done.

By routinely following this method, and making it a habit, you will immediately find your productivity and meaningful results you get at least doubled, if not more.

How to Build Self-Discipline

By Peter Clemens

Discipline is freedom. You may disagree with this statement, and if you do you are certainly not alone. For many people discipline is a dirty word that is equated with the absence of freedom. In fact the opposite is true. As Stephen R. Covey once wrote, “the undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions”. And in the longer term, the undisciplined lack the freedom that comes with possessing particular skills and abilities - e.g. to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language.

Self-discipline involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. Often it involves sacrificing the pleasure and thrill of the moment for what matters most in life. Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to:

  • Work on an idea or project after the initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away
  • Go to the gym when all you want to do is lie on the couch and watch TV
  • Wake early to work on yourself
  • Say “no” when tempted to break your diet
  • Only check your email a few of times per day at particular times

In the past self-discipline has been a weakness of mine, and as a result today I find myself lacking the ability to do a number of things which I would like - e.g. to play the guitar. But I have improved, and I can say that it is self-discipline that got me out of bed this morning at 5am to run and then write this article. Believe me, I would love to be curled up in bed right now, but this desire is subordinated by my inner sense of purpose.

If you struggle with self-discipline, the good news is that it can be developed. For example, it is only in the past two years that I have trained myself to wake early. The following are what I have found to be the five traits of self-discipline:

1. Self-Knowledge

Discipline means behaving according to what you have decided is best, regardless of how you feel in the moment. Therefore the first trait of discipline is self-knowledge. You need to decide what behavior best reflects your goals and values. This process requires introspection and self-analysis, and is most effective when tied to written expression. I highly recommend taking the time to write out your goals, dreams and ambitions. Even better, write out a personal mission statement. I found that writing such a statement gave me a greater understanding of who I am, what I am about and what I value. Dr. Covey has an excellent Mission Statement Builder on his site.

2. Conscious Awareness

Self-discipline depends upon conscious awareness as to both what you are doing and what you are not doing. Think about it. If you aren’t aware your behavior is undisciplined, how will you know to act otherwise?

As you begin to build self-discipline, you may catch yourself being in the act of being undisciplined - e.g. biting your nails, avoiding the gym, eating a piece of cake or checking your email constantly. Developing self-discipline takes time, and the key here is you are aware of your undisciplined behavior. With time this awareness will come earlier, meaning rather than catching yourself in the act of being undisciplined you will have awareness before you act in this way. This gives you the opportunity to make a decision that is in better alignment with your goals and values.

3. Commitment to Self-Discipline

It is not enough to simply write out your goals and values. You must make an internal commitment to them. Otherwise when your alarm clock goes off at 5am you will see no harm in hitting the snooze button for “just another 5 minutes….” Or, when initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away from a project you will struggle to see it through to completion.

If you struggle with commitment, start by making a conscious decision to follow through on what you say you’re going to do - both when you said you would do it and how you said you would do it. Then, I highly recommend putting in place a system to track these commitments. As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets improved”.

4. Courage

Did you notice the sweat dripping from the man in the picture at the start of this article? Make no mistake, self-discipline is often extremely difficult. Moods, appetites and passions can be powerful forces to go against. Therefore self-discipline is highly dependent on courage. Don’t pretend something is easy for you to do when it is in fact very difficult and/ or painful. Instead, find the courage to face this pain and difficulty. As you begin to accumulate small private victories, your self-confidence will grow and the courage that underpins self-discipline will come more naturally.

5. Internal Coaching

Self-talk is often harmful, but it can also be extremely beneficial if you have control of it. When you find yourself being tested, I suggest you talk to yourself, encourage yourself and reassure yourself. After all, it is self-talk that has the ability to remind you of your goals, call up courage, reinforce your commitment and keep you conscious of the task at hand. When I find my discipline being tested, I always recall the following quote: “The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”. Burn this quote into your memory, and recall in whenever you find yourself being tested. It may change your life.

Create Your Daily Personal Growth Schedule

By Brian Tracy

There are six disciplines you must develop if you want to achieve all that is possible for you. You can learn these disciplines through practice and repetition until they become automatic.

Goal Setting

Every morning, take three to five minutes to write out your top goals in the present tense. Get a spiral notebook for this purpose. By writing out your ten goals at the beginning of each day, you will program them deep into your subconscious mind.

This daily goal writing will activate your mental powers. It will stimulate your mind and make you more alert. Throughout the day, you will see opportunities and possibilities to move more rapidly toward your goals.

Planning and Organizing

Take a few minutes, preferably the night before, to plan out every activity of the coming day. Always work from a list. Always think on paper. This is one of the most powerful and important disciplines of all for high performance.

Concentration on your Highest-Value Activities

Your ability to work single-mindedly on your most important task will contribute as much to your success as any other discipline you can develop.

Exercise and Proper Nutrition

Your health is more important than anything else. By disciplining yourself to exercise regularly and to eat carefully, you will promote the highest possible levels of health and fitness throughout your life.

Learning and Growth

Your mind is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.

Time for Important People in Your Life

Relationships are everything. Be sure that in climbing the ladder of success, you do not find it leaning against the wrong building. Build time for your relationships into every day, no matter how busy you get.

These six disciplines will ensure that you perform at the highest level and get the greatest satisfaction and results from everything you do. Study these six disciplines and then make a plan for how you can incorporate each of them into your daily life.

How To Define A Tangible, Reachable Personal Finance Goal

By Trent Hamm

First of all, what exactly is a goal? A goal is the result toward which effort is directed; in other words, a goal is the outcome of a period of directed activity. Goals can be over any timeframe: for example, I often set very short term goals, such as finishing my grocery shopping in thirty minutes with no extra items in the cart beyond what’s on my list. I also have very long term goals, such as writing a check for my dream home at age 45 and retiring several years after that.

Goals are great because they put a carrot at the end of the stick, guiding you down a path that leads to something you truly want to accomplish. However, the truth is that we often set goals we cannot meet - and the result of that is not only the lack of reaching a goal, but the sense of failure that comes along with it. We beat ourselves up over the fact that we can’t lose that extra twenty pounds and keep it off and our sense of self-worth goes down.

Why does this failure happen? Obviously, there are as many causes for failure as there are grains of sand in the desert, but the root causes generally boil down to several groups, three of which I’d like to focus on:

A goal that isn’t clear Setting a goal of “saving money” or “losing weight” merely sets you up for failure because it isn’t clear what success actually is.

A goal that’s overly optimistic Optimistic goals are great, but setting goals like paying off your home in a year when you owe more than your annual income is probably not going to happen unless you’ve got some sort of trick up your sleeve.

A goal that’s too distant Again, distant goals are wonderful, but they require diligence. Merely setting a goal isn’t enough.

In each of these cases, you can head off potential challenges to reaching the goal by putting in extra effort when you define the goal right off the bat. Let’s work through an example to see how you can do this in your own life.

Let’s say your goal is to save money for a house; a fine goal, indeed. However, it has some problems that make it difficult for anyone to achieve.

It’s not clear and specific Whenever you define a goal, you should make sure it answers a few basic questions with as much specificity as possible: What? When? How?

What is the goal? Obviously, to save money for a house. But what kind of house? What will it cost? Where will the house be? Will it be pre-owned, or will you build your own? How much of the down payment do you plan to cover?

When is the goal? When do you want to be moving into that house? One year? Five years? Ten years?

How will you get there? Where will this money for savings come from? Right now, you’re not saving, so you have to define what exactly will change in order for you to begin saving at the rate needed to meet the specifics you’ve already set.

Using this process will transform the goal into something specific, ideally with specific savings goals each step along the way (weekly or monthly). These sub-goals are typically called milestones and can often be thought of as goals themselves: my goal for this month is to save $X, for example.

It’s too optimistic Is it within the realm of reality for you to meet the goal you set? This is more of a balancing act than anything - you want to make it so that you’re accomplishing something, but you also don’t want to make it impossible. For example, going from barely breaking even each month to saving 40% of your paycheck will be extremely difficult for much people, so set the goal lower.

It’s too distant Obviously, the best way to handle this is by setting milestones, particularly ones that at first give you a little bit of room to figure out how it’s going to go. For savings goals, I generally find that a gently graduated approach works well: saving $X the first year, then saving more the second year and so on. This way, you find success at each point along the way.

So, using these tips, you can change your goal to something much more specific and tangible: “I am saving money for a $200,000 house in Iowa. I want to move in in five years and I want to have a 10% down payment in hand, so I will need to save $20,000 in five years. That breaks down to $4,000 a year, or $333 a month. For the first year, I’ll save $300 a month, then add $20 a month each year after that. I will put this in a savings account that earns 5.05% APY interest.”

This time around, you have a goal that’s clearly defined, with specific action points for you to follow. You can now start working towards this goal immediately, instead of it being nebulous and easy to postpone and forget about.