There was something I always thought was peculiar about the Franklin Planner form my father would use to help 13-year-old-me set goals.

Right at the top of the page, it asked you an odd question: why do you want to set this goal?

I didn’t want to waste time with touchy-feely stuff like that! I wanted action! I wanted to lay out my grand plan for world domination, break it down, and get to work! Why? Because world domination is awesome!

I wanted to skip the work and let the goal magically happen just because I’d come up with it. You can guess how many times I’ve successfully conquered the world.

Reaching your goals is a process. Once the goal is defined, you’re not done. You still need to track it and follow through on it. Here’s how I track the goals I’m working on with Evernote.


Goal Tracking Notes

This is the template that I start with. If you’re familiar with Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever methodology, you should recognize it. (Michael shared his template on the Evernote blog.)

Vision Statement
Why is this goal important to me? How will my life be different when I achieve it? What are the consequences if I don’t?

 
 

The Prize
How will I celebrate when I have achieved it?

 
 

Milestones
Hit these checkpoints to stay on track.

Date Milestone
2018-01-31

Next Actions
What is the next action you can take? It’s okay if you can’t see every remaining action from here. Just identify the next step.

Progress Reports
Use this section like a journal to track the progress you’ve made.

Date Measurement, Milestone, or Random Note
2018-01-31

View in Evernote →

Yes, I leave the prompts in there. I’ll even tweak them over time. They’re notes to my future self on what I’m doing.

Pro tip: Your vision statement doesn’t have to be words! Drag in pictures or a song—whatever you need to get revved up.

Next actions also get recorded in OmniFocus. There’s a bit of double entry but it’s worth seeing them in both places. You can remove items from this list once they’re done (and you’re no longer trying to remember whether you’ve done them).

Goal Summary Note

After you create a note to track each goal, create a note that will track all your goals. Title it “2018 Goals”.

In the goal summary, you’ll want two sections: Active Goals and Deferred Goals. You should only have two or three goals that you are actively working on at a time. Any more than that, and you’re going to spread yourself too thin, like butter over too much bread. The rest are still set—you’re still tracking them—but they’re deferred until later. It’s not their time yet.

Copy a link to each goal tracking note and paste it under the appropriate section—Active Goals or Deferred Goals.

When you’re done, you’ll have a one-sheet summary of all your goals. Drag this note to your sidebar, where you can easily find it. Any goal you’ve set is now just two clicks away!

Rubber, Meet the Road

For best results, you should review your goals daily. Yes, daily! It only takes a minute. Just read the goal summary and the tracking notes for your two or three active goals. This makes sure your goals will stay fresh in your mind. Your subconscious will start to find ways to make surprising amounts of progress.

Remember the most important part of any goal setting system is you. Things won’t magically happen just because you’ve set a goal, but it will seem like it when you get going.

Unfortunately, the road to world domination is a long one. As a teenager, I should have trusted the process the form was trying to teach: start with a strong why statement. Establish your motivation for the goal and the outcome you’re trying to achieve.

Then you can start breaking down your goal and outlining your path to world domination. Identify subgoals and next actions and track your progress so you can see how far you’ve come.

Question: How do you create a compelling vision of an achieved goal? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.