How to Track Long-Term Goals: 3 Methods That Keep You Going

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It’s not easy to achieve long-term goals. Whether you want to start a business or run a marathon, you’ve got to put in massive effort to succeed. Tracking your goals is one of the proven ways to achieve them, which is why today we’re answering the question “How to track long-term goals?”

To track your long-term goals, begin by setting long-term goals and breaking them down into yearly, quarterly, weekly, and daily pieces. Then, get a calendar and mark every day you’ve worked on your goal to keep your streak going. Finally, keep a note on your phone to record progress and help you overcome roadblocks.

Let’s get right into it with the first step!

1. Start by Identifying Your Long-Term Goals and Breaking Them Down

One of the biggest problems that I see myself and others make with setting goals is that we look at something amazing that someone else has done and think that we can and should do it within a short amount of time. 

I saw this in myself when I started running, and it had disastrous results.

As I began, I started slow with just a couple of miles at a time. Eventually, I ran my first 5K race. Then I started to set my sights higher. 

I signed up for a half marathon and training went so well that I could run 13.1 miles on my own well before the race. After running a few halfs, I thought it was time for the full 26.2. 

But I didn’t plan anything or set a goal and break it down like I should have. And worst of all, I didn’t track it. 

When it came time for the race, I developed an injury partway through and limped across the finish line over an hour later than I had hoped to.

What I should have done was break down the goal into action steps and outcomes that I could track over a longer period of time. If I had been doing that, I would have found that I needed more time to train and could have planned accordingly.

But before you can track a long-term goal, you have to set it and break it down. Here’s how I’d do it today with a marathon:

  • 2-year goal: run a marathon
  • 1-year from now: run a half marathon
  • 6 months from now: run a 10k
  • 3 months from now: run a 5k
  • Daily action steps: run for 30 minutes per day and follow a training program

These steps provide the framework for tracking your progress. And they help you see if you need to adjust your goal to be more realistic.

Start today by breaking your long-term goal into yearly, quarterly, weekly, and daily action steps and outcomes.

2. Get a Calendar and Mark Every Day You’ve Worked on Your Goal

Once you’ve got your long-term goals established and broken down, the next step to track them is to implement tools to remind you of them and keep you consistent.

The first comes from Jerry Seinfeld and is something that I’m using myself right now to stick with a long-term writing goal I have. 

One night a young comedian named Brad Isaac got a chance to chat with Seinfeld backstage at one of his shows. Isaac asked Seinfeld for advice on being a great comic. 

Seinfeld said the key was to keep writing better jokes and the secret to that was to write every day. 

He told Isaac to get a calendar and hang it somewhere he’d see often. Then, with a red marker, he was to put a big X to mark every day that he’d written.

The trick, Seinfeld explained, was that eventually you’d get a chain of X’s, and seeing that would motivate you to keep going. Then, all you’d have to do is not miss a single day.

I recently set the goal to write consistently on this website for 18 months. So, I bought myself an 18-month calendar and some Sharpies, and I’m putting a big X for every day that I publish. Mine are blue though because I like blue better than red.

So far I have nearly three months of consistent Xs and I get excited every time I look at it. As I mark a new X for each new day I publish, I get the satisfaction of knowing that I’m keeping the streak going and contributing to my long-term goal.

Your action step is simple here. Get a calendar and some Sharpies and start marking how many days in a row you work on your long-term goal.

3. Keep a Note on Your Phone to Record Your Progress and Overcome Setbacks

Another major oversight you can make that leads to failure is not planning ahead for setbacks or taking the time to uncover the root causes when you’re not accomplishing your goals. 

If you want to reach your goals, you need to overcome roadblocks regularly. They will come. And if you’re unprepared, they’ll completely derail your progress. 

But you can beat them with some careful tracking.

A few months ago I was hitting a wall with my writing habit. I’d sit down to write and stare at the blank screen until I ran out of time. It was infuriating. But thankfully, I figured it out.

I started a note on my phone titled “Writing” and wrote my writing goal at the top. Then, each day, I’d write a little bit about how it was going and what I was thinking and feeling as I wrote. 

Thanks to my tracking system, within just a couple of days I figured out that the problem was the blank screen was overwhelming me and making me quit. As I continued to uncover the root causes, I began to form a hypothesis of how to fix the problem.

I tried preparing my articles beforehand so the screen wasn’t so ominously empty. As I did this I continued to write in my note on my phone and uncovered other small ways to make it easier to start writing each day.

Combining this goal-tracking method with the calendar one I mentioned before, I’ve now stayed consistent with writing and I’m on my way to reach my goal to publish over 400 posts on this site by the end of 2024.

To do this yourself, simply start a note on your phone, title it something like “Health Goal” or whatever your goal is, write the goal below, then start recording your progress each day and writing about the roadblocks you’re running into. Then, run experiments on yourself to see what works to fix the problems.

Wrapping Up

To track your long-term goals, use these three methods:

  1. Establish your goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces and bigger milestones.
  2. Use a calendar to get a streak going and to keep it going.
  3. Create a note on your phone to check in with yourself daily so you can overcome roadblocks and setbacks quickly.

I’ve been using all of these to track my long-term goals and I know they’ll work for you because they’re working for me! Pick just one of them and try it today and you’ll start to see yourself succeeding more with your long-term goals right away.