Track Your Progress Visually

Life Balance

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Track Your Progress Visually

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Track Your Progress VisuallySo you've got big goals -- for fitness, finances, or whatever. How do you stay on track with those goals from day to day? My super-simple suggestion is that you make visual reminders that help you stay on track with where you are and where you're headed.

Track Your Trajectory

Years ago, I read a great suggestion about tracking your weight -- though it could apply to other things, too. The writer taped up a chart on the back of the bathroom door, and each morning she took a pen and marked her weight on the chart. When she needed to lose weight, she looked for the line joining the marks to go down week by week. When she wanted to maintain her weight, her focus was to make sure that the line didn't trend upwards.

In general, I'd tell you not to focus too much on the number on the scale, but the principle is still sound: track where you are, and whether you're headed in the right direction. You could be charting your weekly weight, your monthly net worth, or your maximum bench press -- the principle is the same.

Track Your Chronology

Another easy way to track your progress is borrowed from Jerry Seinfeld. Before he got his big break on television, when he was still working as a standup comic, he wanted to make sure he wrote new material for his act every single day.

So he got himself a wall calendar that he mounted above his desk. When he accomplished his daily allotment of writing, he would put a big red "X" across that square on the calendar. As he kept at it, he started building an uninterrupted chain of those X's. At some point, wanting to keep the streak alive became an extra part of his motivation.

Seinfeld's advice to those who wanted to stick with tough goals? Use his calendar trick, then "Don't break the chain."

Track How Close You Are

One other technique I've used successfully is to make a blank table that represents how much of something I have to accomplish, and then fill in the squares as I knock out each one.

For example, I used to have a job that required me to update a certain number of database records in a week. Let's say the number was 30. At the start of the week, I would make a 5 x 6 table in a word-processing document and print it out. Then, throughout the week, I would mark off one of the squares on the grid every time I updated a record. It helped that there are five workdays in the week, and there were five rows of squares on the grid. It made it easy to see where I was for the week and whether that was ahead or behind the needed pace.

You could do the same thing to track workouts. If you want to get in great shape, you might set a goal of 20 workouts per month, for example, and then track that with a 4 x 5 grid. And Seinfeld's principle -- to put a big red "X" in every square -- would still apply.

Keep Yourself Motivated

The point in all of this is to keep it simple as you build your momentum toward your goal. Track your progress visually in ways that are easy to grasp and easy to get excited about.

You don't have to share your tracking mechanisms with anyone else. Maybe those red X's are in your pocket calendar, not on the wall where anyone else can see them. Whatever works for you.

When you hit your big goal -- or blow through it -- people will ask you how you did it. You can smile and say, "Oh, I just stuck with it little by little."

What are you doing to track progress toward your goals?

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Tim Walker, Life Balance Guest Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services  Tim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Tim on Twitter; @Twalk or follow us by clicking here

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