Tracking goals is the fourth step in my 4-step goal-setting process. It’s absolutely crucial for success for many reasons. Which is why today we’re answering the question “Why is tracking goals important?” by going over the benefits of tracking goals.
Tracking goals is important because it brings clarity, motivation, and accountability. It’s scientifically shown to increase the chances you’ll achieve your goals. That’s because tracking gives you measurable results and feedback loops that you can use to adapt your goals to maximize your confidence, productivity, and growth.
I’ve been tracking my goals with a spreadsheet for almost five years now and it’s provided an incredible boost to my performance and to the amount of goals I achieve. To learn more about how to track your goals, check out this article and this one too.
Now let’s dive right into the benefits of tracking goals, starting with the research!
1. Research Shows That Tracking Goals Makes You More Likely to Reach Them
What do 138 studies that involved a total of 19,951 people have in common? They all found that when you prompt people to monitor their progress on their goals, they’re more likely to achieve them.
As the authors of the study put it:
“If you are trying to achieve a goal, the more often that you monitor your progress, the greater the likelihood that you will succeed, according to research. Your chances of success are even more likely if you report your progress publicly or physically record it.”
So to put it plainly:
- Track your goals often. I recommend daily and weekly.
- Report your progress publicly, but be careful about it.
- Physically record how you’re doing on your goals.
So why does this work so well? The research I linked to above doesn’t go into that, unfortunately, but there are many potential reasons.
One of the main reasons, which I’ve had recent experience with, is that recording your progress helps you see where you’re missing the mark so you can think of ways to overcome those obstacles.
I saw this with my writing goal just a couple of months ago. I wasn’t succeeding even though I was tracking my progress. But I wasn’t tracking it as frequently as I could have. So I decided to start a note on my phone for the goal to check in with myself each day.
Every day I’d record how I was feeling as I got started writing. I wasn’t afraid to talk about the difficulties I was having and included every emotion and thought while I was working on this goal.
What happened next was remarkable. Simply recording the problems put my brain into a mode where I could find solutions, and I added the habit of writing out potential solutions to those problems.
I began to experiment on myself to see what worked and eventually, I figured it out. The problem was that I wasn’t preparing well enough so I was getting overwhelmed when I sat down to write. So, I started setting aside time to just prepare to write, and it worked!
2. Tracking Your Goals is The Only Way to Set Truly Smart Goals
One of the biggest problems with the SMART framework is that it’s not a system. It only accounts for the “set” and “plan” steps of the goal-setting process. You need to add action and tracking if you want to have an effective system for personal growth.
Tracking is a smart move when setting goals because it adds all the components of the SMART framework:
- Specific: you have to be specific when you’re recording your progress daily and weekly. Either you did it or you didn’t.
- Measurable: tracking is the entire reason you make your goals measurable in the first place. Checking in is how you measure your progress, so if your goals aren’t measurable, you won’t be able to track them. Once you start tracking, you’ll discover this and be able to fix it immediately.
- Achievable: You get real-time data on how you’re doing with your goals by tracking them, so you can adjust if you’ve set your sights too high or too low.
- Relevant: As part of the tracking process, I often ask myself if my goals are still what I want to accomplish to make sure they’re always relevant.
- Time-Bound: By adding daily and weekly tracking to your goals, you’re adding the element of time to them.
With one simple step, you can add all of these layers to each of your goals. That’s just one of the amazing benefits of tracking goals that makes it so important.
3. You Have More Motivation and Confidence When You Track Your Goals
Right now I’ve got the ambitious goal to publish over 300 posts on this website in the next 18 months. I’m seeing great results by tracking it with my spreadsheet and my notes app as I’ve mentioned.
But there’s another way that I’m tracking it to take advantage of the benefits of tracking goals.
I found a beautiful 18-month national parks calendar on Amazon and got it along with some permanent markers. When it arrived I put it up on my wall and I’ve been marking a big blue “X” for every day that I’ve published a post.
The idea of seeing it filled with blue Xs in December 2024 when I complete my goal is thrilling and motivating.
Every time I look at it, I remember my goal and see my progress. I get a huge burst of inspiration and it builds my confidence that I can keep going. Without it, that commitment to my goal would likely die, and I wouldn’t reach my goal.
This is just one of the many ways that tracking your goals in the right way can lead to extra confidence and motivation.
You can do like I’ve done and set a big goal then track it by marking your progress on a calendar. You can also use a big thermometer and fill it in for each step you take toward your goal.
Whatever way you do it, tracking your goals is an excellent way to encourage yourself to stick to your goals.
In summary, here are the main reasons why tracking your goals is important:
- Research proves that tracking your goals makes you more likely to achieve them.
- You can only set truly smart goals by adding tracking to your system.
- Tracking your goals gives you a huge confidence and motivation boost.
Start tracking your own goals today by creating a note on your phone and checking in with yourself at the end of each day. Or, if you’re ready for more advanced methods, check out this article.