A Goal Chart is a visual representation of goals and milestones/activities, broken down into achievable components.
Goals are objectives that a person endeavors or aspires to accomplish in the future. Goals could be immediate or long-term, corporate, personal, or life visions for the future.
Goal Charts also help identify the problem areas, motivate and bolster the person’s confidence to tackle them, and reduce stress by analyzing and pinpointing pain points.
Goal charts are valuable ways of setting goals and achieving aims.
Some of the purposes of goal charts are listed below:
- Identification: The primary purpose of a goal chart is that it helps to acknowledge a goal.
- Compartmentalizing: Once a goal is known, a goal chart helps in analyzing steps to achieving it. It breaks it into manageable secondary goals.
- Actionable goals: Goal charts create actionable goals and paint a path to success.
- Reduces stress: Reducing the goal into secondary goals frees up the mind and reduces self-imposed tension.
- Motivation: It creates enthusiasm to tackle tasks.
- Progress report: It provides improvement feedback by highlighting achieved tasks, growth, and pinpointing daily tasks.
- Confidence: Goal charts instill confidence to tackle tasks, future problems and infuses a “can-do”mindset.
- Success: It helps to attain success in all mapped-out goals.
Goal Setting and Types of Goals
Goal setting is the recognition of an objective and making plans to realize it. Goal setting helps create a vision, strategize measurable goals, and motivate actions in attaining the vision within a measurable timeframe. Goal setting creates a focused and purposeful life and structures personal, professional and organizational goals.
In 1968, Edwin Locke, a psychologist, postulated the Goal Setting Theory of Motivation, which states that goal setting correlates with higher chances of executing tasks. It states that tasks, irrespective of their severity, can be better actualized with suitable feedback.
The goal-setting theory states that willingness to work at achieving objectives is an excellent source of motivation. In addition, it states features that aid more extraordinary results; setting clear, specific, realistic, and challenging goals.
Types of goals
There are several types of goals that an individual may aim to achieve.
Some of these are:
Career goals are professional objectives that a person intends to achieve. They could be long-term or short-term.
An example of a long-term career goal is an eighth-grader deciding on a career path and mapping out the steps to achieving it.
Financial goals are a person’s monetary targets, which inform their present financial activities and help attain improved future financial security. These targets could be immediate;
Such as increasing investment portfolios, intermediate – like saving towards a purchase, or long-term – like achieving a robust financial future.
Personal development goals
These are target areas or activity plans geared towards improving personally; self-growth or self-improvement.
A person could set goals focusing on correcting weaknesses or reinforcing strengths for self-actualization.
These are goals focused on finding a balance or purpose in life and deriving meaning out of existence. These goals could be independent of religious beliefs and focused on finding and/or connecting to a higher spirituality.
Educational goals are academic activities to be achieved within a specified timeframe.
It could be increasing or maintaining a cumulative grade point average or attending classes regularly.
Relationship goals are romantic or intimate ideas a person or couple wishes to attain in their relationship. It could be an experience, a habit to drop, or a routine to imbibe.
Physical and health goals
It could be attaining particular body weight, creating a workout routine, better nutrition goals, or improving sleep cycle within a specific time or a general health practice.
Some goals are set to be achieved at specific times in the future, a strategy that helps to create discipline and measurable targets.
These are goals that a person sets out to achieve over their entire lifetime. It tends to be general at first and turns more specific as the person gets older and attains more goals. They are usually long-term goals with or without time structure.
They could be goals aimed at avoiding an undesirable state. They are usually pegged for achievement within ten years or more.
Lifetime goals are always long-term, while long-term goals are not always life-long. Long-term goals are usually futuristic plans concerning any area of the person’s life.
Career goals, educational goals, and personal goals are examples of long-term goals that could take at least 2 – 3 years to achieve.
These goals are aimed to be achieved in a concise time within the nearest future. It could be an immediate daily goal or within weeks or months. The majority classify a short-term goal as an achievable goal within a one-year timeframe.
Stepping stone goals
These goals drive a person closer to their main aspirations. They are mediums of achieving a greater future goal. They are goals a person must attain to get closer to achieving their long-term goal.
Becoming a forensic psychologist will have a stepping stone goal of gaining a university admission in that course or a related one.
Stepping stone goals are different from short-term goals because they lead to long-term goals. On the other hand, not all short-term goals lead to long-term goals. Some end once they are achieved.
Types of Goal Chart
There are numerous types of goal charts to make objectives achievable.
Few are explained below:
An action board is a visual tool aimed at defining goals with a “call to action”. Simply put, it is a vision board with activity cues for achieving each goal. Each picture might have a specific activity cue or a generalized action plan on the board.
To create an action board, on a plain board (wood, cardboard, craft board, or carton), place inspiring images to represent each specific goal. Images could be printed images from the internet, magazine cutouts or clippings, etc., which helps to visualize a goal. Under each image, write an activity cue and timeframe to help actualize the goal. Inversely, a general activity plan could be written on the board, ticking off each accomplished task.
This stemmed from project management practices; a tool used to visualize workflow, fine-tune processes and eliminate problems. “Kanban” is a Japanese word meaning “visual signal”, thus making goals visible. It can be used to structure both professional and personal goals.
On a board or paper, columns are created to address specific needs (e.g. “To-do”, “In-progress”, and “Smashed!” or with more complex headings). Goals or To-do activities are then written on a sticky note and placed on the “To-do” column and are subsequently moved to the “In-progress” column once activity starts on it. Finally, it goes to the “Smashed!” column when completed.
To-do lists are less complicated ways of breaking down and tracking a goal. It is simply a list of activities to accomplish, which could belong to or be short-termed. A to-do list could be created listing all long-term goals while creating a sub-list to depict daily or weekly achievable activities in achieving the long-term goals. To-do lists can be created using a daily journal, sticky notes, or digital applications. They can be placed anywhere at home or in the office, on phones and laptops.
A goal thermometer is perfect for financial or fundraising goals and organizational goals. It is an easy-to-make excel bar graph that keeps track of achievements towards a goal. Seeing the graph moving closer to the goal benchmark motivates actions and inversely pinpoints problem areas when it straggles.
Simple goal chart
This is another easy goal chart. It is a simple way of visualizing and keeping track of goals and sub-objectives. Goals are represented on a board in hierarchical orders with sub-objectives that are ticked off, crossed off, or removed as they are being accomplished.
Post-it goal charts
This uses craft paper, post-its (also known as sticky notes), or a board to represent goals and track achievements visually. Main goals could be represented with different colored post-its with sub-objectives bearing the main goal’s color. It is also a fun way for teams to represent and tackle problems. Each team member could pick up a post-it goal to work on until there are none left.
This is the use of software applications to represent goals and track achievements. Applications are used on phones, laptops, tablets, and other digital devices that make goal charts easily accessible consulted, and updated from anywhere. In addition, it is easy to color coordinate goals and benchmarks with applications as the person pleases, and teams can effortlessly collaborate remotely. There are numerous software applications, two of which are Microsoft Excel and Todoist.
Goal Chart Templates
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Set Goals
A systematic guide to goal setting is described below:
Create a goal list
The first step in setting goals is to create a goal list. This is done by thinking up objectives one wishes to achieve, changing situations, and/or aspirations. Next, reduce the list to a few manageable goals; too many boggles the mind.
Define your objectives
The next step is to define each goal. This is analyzing the goals, pruning, and adjusting until they are distinct. Each goal listed will typically have a reason behind it and a possible timeline that will help define it. This will make evident similar goals that should be merged, stepping stone goals, long and short-term goals. It also defines the goals into realistic and ambiguous goals that should be pruned and simplified accordingly.
Create SMART goals
Defining the objectives leads to creating SMART goals. SMART is a time management tool used to guide goal setting and ensure goals are achievable. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. The SMART tool will guard against setting demotivating, unattainable, and vague goals.
Goal ambiguity should be eliminated and there should be clarity and simplification by thinking of the reasons behind each goal, collaborators who might help achieve it, its location, and needed resources. This helps to focus attention and efforts.
This helps to track efforts and report on progress while also motivating. It also points out problem areas that need resolving.
Goals should be attainable based on resources and capabilities.
Goals can be grand but within reason given available resources, time, and capabilities. It should be relevant to your personal or professional vision.
Goals should have a realistic timeframe that will motivate and guard against distractions.
Write them down
Writing down goals visually represents it and all its aspects, giving it vivacity. It removes the shroud of vagueness that might surround the goals and bring them to reality. Writing down goals helps to narrow down concentration on the goal. Psychologists have proven that writing down goals helps in encoding stimuli related to the goal that increases the chances of success.
Create a timeline
Each goal should be time-bound, i.e., have a starting and finishing time/date. It helps to streamline effort and resources and increase success. Goals should have mileposts and time limits ascribed to track progress and help stay dedicated to the course. It is best to set a realistic timeframe, and depending on the goal, it should be a time not too far in the future. This creates urgency, as a goal without a time limit is always prone to deferral.
Break it down
It is prudent to split goals down into manageable components. Big goals might seem unattainable, vague, and scary, but they become achievable when broken down into components. This also pinpoints possible problem areas and stepping stone goals that will aid achievement. Determine sub-goals or steps that lead to the main goal. This will also help in creating a realistic timeline and an action plan.
Create an action plan
What is next after listing a goal, breaking it down, and setting a timeline? Creating a plan of action is the next step. A goal without an execution plan is just a pipedream. Create an action plan by pairing each sub-goal with relevant actions to drive the main goal closer.
Identify daily actions
Creating an action plan helps to identify daily goals to meet, which guides daily actions to take.
An action plan of shedding 3 pounds of weight by the end of the year will identify jogging 5 miles daily as a daily action plan.
Daily actions are the basic steps needed to achieve a goal.
Insert your goals in the goal chart
Like earlier discussed, there are different goal charts that are recommended to achieve a goal. Goal charts should track both benchmarks and progress for better motivation and accurate representation of achievements. Insert goals into the goal chart and update accomplishments frequently to determine progress.
Use it daily
Be disciplined in using the goal chart daily, and make sure to check off daily-accomplished goals while keeping motivated to tackle the remainder. Keep the goal chart at focal spots so as not to forget about it.
Re-evaluate and assess your progress
It is good to assess progress and analyze the goal chart to weed out pain points and note progress. Re-evaluating will identify whether the action plan is addressing the goal/problem or whether there is a need to develop a new strategy. It will also help to evaluate if the goal is still relevant to personal or professional vision. Re-evaluation and assessment should be done periodically to identify progress, problems, solutions, and motivation.
Creating a Goal Chart Template on MS Excel
A goal chart template is a pre-made goal chart with blank areas for people to fill in according to their needs.
A goal chart template is important because:
- It is easier to use.
- It saves time.
- It is flexible
- It promotes consistency.
- It reduces error.
- It focuses attention on the goals and not on the process of creating a goal chart.
- It is visually pleasing and gives inspiration.
Here is a guide to creating a goal thermometer template on Excel:
- Write the goal and ascribe it a value (e.g. 100%).
- Determine milestones and ascribe values (e.g. 25%, 50% and 75%).
- Insert formula and block off-grid as needed.
- Insert a graph column and format it to choice.
- Update frequently to track progress.
Following are some free downloadable templates for you:
Frequently Asked Questions
Goal setting is identifying a vision, defining goals, and mapping out steps to achieving them.
The goal-setting theory states that setting out a goal increases the chances of achieving objectives. Edwin Locke formulated the goal-setting theory in 1968.
Setting too many goals overwhelms the mind and demotivates a person, thereby reducing the chances of achieving any or all of them.