How to keep track of medium-term personal goals (2 years in the future)?
April 23, 2019 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I have a few big personal goals (financial-related, health-related, work-related) that depend only on me (i.e. no external motivation) and that I have been looking to accomplish in the next 2-3 years. While I've been mostly on track, I am struggling with the plateau where things progress slowly and it is hard to keep motivated.

There are plenty of advice to deal with goals and tasks on a tactical level (say, GTD) or on a more strategic, life-long level (say, 7 habits) but I have found nothing that caters to someone who wants to track progress in medium-term, well-defined goals.

I'm looking for tools or resources that would shed a light on this: books, apps, articles, whatever. Anything you can think of that might be helpful, I'd be delighted to see it. Thanks!
posted by gertzedek to Education (8 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe try using Trello?

Watching your boards go from "To Do" to "Working On" to "Done" (or whatever you name your lists) can be motivating as you can easily see what there is left to do to reach your goal.
posted by onebyone at 1:47 PM on April 23

Depending on what the goals are, you can use something like the Seinfeld method / calendar chaining -- you have an end goal, but your interim tracked behaviour is to do something toward that goal every day. I sometimes have "Write 100 words" as a daily goal when I am working on a long writing project, for example. The end result is a book, but the interim result is a habit.

I have used a little web app called Joe's Goals for this kind of habit training but there are now tons of habit chain apps.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:01 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]

See if you can determine milestone goals between now and the end. If you are on track to complete the goal in two years, what goal would you have accomplished in 3 months? what about one month? What about next week? What actions might you need to take to get there?

The First 90 Days isn't exactly about this, but it is about doing things proactively to get at a bigger goal without much external accountability. Might give some insight into how to think about WHAT you should be doing. I think the tool of tracking that work will fall in place after that.
posted by jander03 at 2:42 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]

For paying off debts and adding to savings, I've found that keeping a spreadsheet is very helpful. I keep it in the cloud so I can check it from any computer or my phone, and share it with my spouse. I have projections of when the debt will be gone or when the savings will reach certain goals, and it's satisfying to see them inch closer and closer.
posted by matildaben at 2:44 PM on April 23

As a person who does project work at work, I have learned that you have to have status meetings. You just do. They're terrible and disruptive but nobody will do anything without the repeating deadline and visibility gets lost without them.

You CAN have status meetings with yourself. I have a standing appointment in my calendar every month just to make the task list for garden/house-related crap that needs to get done in the month, as an example. I (usually) do my meal-planning on Thursdays so my shopping list is ready for Saturday and I cook on Sunday.

So yes, I agree with setting up a milestone that might only be "check the plan and see how it's going", and scheduling a routine to make sure those happen.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:14 PM on April 23 [13 favorites]

Lyn Never above mentions status meeting with yourself - awesome idea! You can also hire a friend or a virtual assistant to do this with you. They don't need exercise. just someone you can make an appointment with and talk aloud to.
posted by jander03 at 4:04 PM on April 23

I found a passion planner worked well for this - I used one when I was working a full-time job in a new-to-me scientific field while trying to publish in my old field (time-consuming, no external accountability). I think you can still download the templates for free if you sign up for their newsletter so you can check it out if you're interested / want to incorporate some of it into your current planner setup. The passion planner attitude is a little "extra" for me but the format worked, YMWV.

Mostly, you need to schedule a few tasks that will move you forward every week. Bringing it down to that tactical level is part of the work and you'll have to check in with how you're progressing to do that, in my experience.
posted by momus_window at 9:23 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Another approach is to budget your time. Perhaps an hour every Thursday, every other Sunday afternoon, one weekend a month -- blocked out for the medium-term projects. Or even just `windfall' time, if your schedule has that and your projects are portable.

I find I need to try to work through one of them until it's done rather than decide at the beginning of each allotted block which medium project to work on, and there are enthusiasts of looking at the whole medium-term list and going for whatever's interesting right then.
posted by clew at 6:56 PM on April 24

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