I’ve been speaking and coaching a lot the last few weeks on the subject of goal-setting. Most are acquainted with goal-setting and do so in some fashion around New Year’s. Yet the reality is very few see any long-term, sustainable change.
Does that mean goal-setting isn’t really all the helpful? No—it’s just that most don’t have a system for reviewing their goals and tracking progress regularly.
Setting the target is primary. Yet it will remain a lofty goal on paper only unless you have a specific, sustainable action plan and system for review.
The Daily Journal
I’ve been keeping a journal for several decades. I haven’t always made daily entries and what I’ve written has changed over the years. But the one benefit that has remained steady has been in gaining insight for my personal growth as I’m able to review regularly throughout the year.
You may have also kept a journal of sorts. Yet I haven’t heard many speak of it in the context of goal-setting. As I’ve reviewed my goal-setting process this year, I decided to leverage the power of my daily journal to making it a greater asset in helping me hit my targets for this year.
If you’ve never kept a journal, start. Today. Don’t over-think it. Just build a daily habit—I make it part of my morning routine—where you at least record the notables of yesterday. You don’t have to record everything that happened. Just the things that were significant to you and how you felt about them.
For years, I’ve followed Bill Hybels’ recommendation to write no more than one page each morning, beginning each post with the word, “Yesterday…”. After journaling the notables of yesterday, I write a short prayer and read it.
Ramping Up My Daily Journal
This year, I’ve gone further and added a bit more structure to my journal. I know that my success at attaining my yearly goals is dependent upon staying focused and having a system whereby I track and review my progress. It builds motivation and helps me adapt along the way.
So, I’ve established the following sections to guide my daily journal entries:
- Yesterday…As I said, I believe in the power of reviewing the previous day. Socrates stated hundreds of years ago, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Self-examination is essential for personal growth.
- Notable events. I simply highlight those things that happened yesterday that I consider significant in some way.
- Mood. Our attitude is so important in our performance and how we relate with others. I don’t always feel like I’d like to feel, so I am constantly learning how my moods may fluctuate and why.
- Accomplishments. This is where I record tasks that work toward my weekly, 90 day, and ultimately yearly goals. It keeps me focused, motivated by celebrating every victory no matter how small, and provides a record I can review throughout the year.
- Things to improve upon. I don’t do everything perfectly, do you?! No. We are works in progress. Making continual improvement every day is a habit I want to maintain. So, I try to learn from my mistakes daily by giving them a little consideration so that I’ll be better prepared the next time.
- Insights and ideas. I have what seem to be great ideas all the time. I capture these and in my weekly and monthly reviews, I can give them more thought to see what action, if any, I should take.
- Essential questions. This is a list of 5-6 questions I ask myself each day for personal accountability. Each has a checkbox. If I can’t check it off, I add a note explaining why not. These are in regard to critical habits I’m forming to help me become the person I want to become this year. They are also good questions to allow a close friend to ask you regularly.
- What should I stop doing that another could do? I’m constantly trying to find more time to help others in ways I’m good at. One way to do that is to enlist the help of others to do certain tasks that I may be doing but could be done better by another.
- “Father,…” I finish with a short prayer, thanking God for the progress of yesterday, asking for forgiveness for my shortcomings, and His help in taking steps forward today.
These section titles aren’t absolutes. They are simply what I’m using now to help me stay focused daily and refer to each week as I examine the past week and plan for the next. Make changes as would best work for you. But take the step and start journaling today or step it up to make the process even better.
Question: How do you use your journal to move you forward? Share your answer in the comments below.