How to Track Your Goals using Evernote

See your progress and stay excited about changing your life.

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.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / jummie

How Do You Feel About Your Goals?

Thinking they’re a good idea isn’t enough.

Have you ever set an alarm for 5:00 am, only to hit snooze five or six times?

Or gone with the loaded french fries instead of the salad because, frankly, they taste better?

Or binged three and a half episodes instead of reading a book, cleaning your desk, and writing in your journal?

There are plenty of ways we rationalize why we deviated from our plan in the moment: “It’s cold and dark outside—I might get sick if I go for a run this morning!” “Just once isn’t going to make a difference.” “I left off at a cliffhanger; I need closure so I can think about something else.”

There can be legitimate reasons for changing tactics in the moment. However, if you’re constantly making excuses for not sticking with your plan, it might be a symptom that you’re making a classic mistake: you’re letting your brain make a decision without getting buy-in from your heart.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / stokkete
Your Best Year Ever Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018
Amazon Audible iBooks Website

Every January 1, millions of us set resolutions to improve ourselves. The biggest areas are our health, our finances, and our relationships. Maybe it’s because we just spent December eating too much, spending more than we should have, and reflecting on the people that mean the most to us.

And by January 7, almost 30% of us have blown it. Barely half of New Year’s resolutions make it to Valentine’s Day. Last year, we took fewer than 10% of our resolutions across the finish line.


Now some of you may be thinking, “That’s because they’re New Year’s resolutions. We should be setting goals!” And you’re right. In order to improve our lives, we need more impetus than “It’s January 1 and I’ve been eating too much junk food this week.” (Brace yourself—bowl games are coming.) What we need is a system for setting goals that we’re actually going to follow through on.

In Your Best Year Ever, New York Times bestselling author and productivity guru Michael Hyatt will teach you how to set goals that stick. It’s the process that he uses. It’s the process that thousands of students have learned in his best-selling online course, 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever, and gone on to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, start their own business, launch new careers, repair their marriages, and get in the best shape of their lives.

There are three things about his approach that I really like:

  • You need a why to change. Throughout the process, he emphasizes the need to connect with your why. It’s one thing to say you want to pay off $400k in personal debt, but if all you see is that six-digit red number, it’s going to be intimidating. You’re not going to have the resolve to change. Instead, develop a strong vision of what your life will look like when you’re out of debt. No payments going out each month. No collectors calling. No guilt over what you spent on Christmas. The ability to give with incredible generosity and bless the lives of others. That’s when you’re willing to sacrifice.
  • Your past flows into your future. Whatever change you want to make, you need to start where you are. If you’ve tried before and failed, that’s part of where you stand now. You need to face that, accept it, and come up with a plan to move forward. Now, you have experience. You know one idea for change that isn’t going to work. Or maybe ten. With each failure, you can hone in on the right approach. It’s possible to change course on a dime, but most change requires a larger turning radius.
  • Change is a continual process. We may spend the holidays coming up with goals, but we shouldn’t try to implement all the change in the first quarter. If you work on more than two or three goals at a time, your efforts will be spread too thin. You won’t have the intensity you need to change your course.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here. Like any book, you can skim across the surface and not get anything out of it. If you go deep and actually do the exercises, you can make this your best year ever.

Michael also offers this material as a course on goal setting, 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. The self-paced online video format is a pleasure to watch—Michael is a very engaging speaker and it’s easy to feel like it’s one-on-one coaching. An online community is also available, where you can ask questions, discuss problems, and share support when the going gets tough. You can also sign up for a two-day live (in-person) training.

Registration for 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever is only open in December. If you’re interested in knowing more, you can sign up for my newsletter and I’d be happy to let you know the next time it’s available.

Question: Have you read Your Best Year Ever? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

On February 27, I’ll be appearing on Learn OmniFocus LIVE with Tim Stringer! If you’ve ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at how I use OmniFocus, this is your chance. I’ll walk you through how I track goals in conjunction with Evernote, how I use AppleScript to create new projects, and how I play four-dimensional chess with the context field.

OmniFocus Workflows with Colter Reed

The event is open to all members of Learn OmniFocus, which is a paid membership. You can learn more and register at

Learn OmniFocus is a site devoted to using OmniFocus at the heart of a holistic approach to productivity—Tim’s philosophy that improvements in any area of your life will result in improvements in other areas of your life. Whether you just started with OmniFocus or are a Kinkless veteran, the articles, training videos, and online meetups will help you use OmniFocus more productively.

Date: February 27, 2018
Time: 10:00-11:00am
Appearance: OmniFocus Workflows with Colter Reed
Format: Podcast

The Top Posts of 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

We clear our schedules and spend time with family and friends. We’re a little friendlier to strangers, a little kinder. We assess who we are, the direction we’re heading, and start planning out the new year to make life all the more wonderful.

I’m taking the week off to read, hike, golf, and play with the kids. Instead of a new post, here are the top six posts you might have missed this year. They’re the most-read, most-shared, and most-loved posts of 2017.

How Scrooge’s Haunting Will Make You Change Your Life, Too

You might need more than one night, though.

Most stories involving time travel hold that time is non-deterministic: a small change in the past can amplify over time and drastically change the present. Some, like Doctor Who, believe it’s deterministic: there are fixed events which are unavoidable, though the path between them may vary a bit.

Until we can get a DeLorean up to eighty-eight miles per hour, we’re not going to know which theory is correct. But this is exactly the answer that Ebenezer Scrooge implores of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come:

“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

Scrooge correctly reasoned that there would be no point in the spirits exploring his past, present, and future unless the experience was a warning and an education. “I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!”

It was the perfect combination of past, present, and future. It was exactly what Scrooge needed to change. It’s what you need make the same kind of powerful transformation in your life.

Photo © Disney.