This is a guest post by Ethan Waldman.
You’re so exited.
You’ve just got access to a great resource and you can’t wait to start. You watch the video. You read the book. You take the first step immediately. The next day, you wake up with the same fever that you had the night before, and you follow through. But then, as the days and weeks pile up, something gets in the way. Despite our best intentions, we are hampered by other priorities in our life. Maybe you’ve tried keeping a journal of your progress, or you’ve put post-it notes on your fridge to help remind you, but if you’re like me, the journal falls down between your night stand and bed, and the post-its get knocked off the fridge and all of a sudden you’ve gone back to your old ways.
I set out to find a better way to stick to my goals, and since I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, it needed to be a digital solution. Wouldn’t it make sense to use a system that reminds us in the places that we spend most of our time? Thankfully, people who are smarter and craftier than myself have already undertaken this endeavor. I’d like to introduce you to three fantastic goal tracking tools that I have used with great success.
Definitely the nerdiest of the solutions, Joe’s Goals is great if you want to hold yourself to doing a bunch of different things. You can add all of your activities and tell it how often you want to do them- you can specify days of the week or just a certain number of times per week. Then, as you complete each activity, simply check the corresponding box. Joe’s Goals will even give you a score on how you’re doing. This would be great if you’re trying to eat certain foods a certain number of times per week. For me, just seeing a list of all the activities that I want to be doing regularly is enough to prompt me to do them.
According to HabitForge, it takes at least 21 days to create a new habit, and the service aims to do just that. After filling in a short form that explains what new habit you’d like to acquire along with what the benefits of acquiring it would be, HabitForge sends you a daily email with a simple yes or no question. When I used HabitForge, I was trying to get in the habit of keeping a dream journal so I could start remembering my dreams. “Hi Ethan! Were you successful yesterday at writing a dream intention journal entry before bed and writing down any dreams as you wake up? Yes .. No. Habit forge tracks your progress in days as they pass. Here’s the catch though, if you skip a day, the clock starts over again at day one.
OhLife is a daily journal that you keep online. What’s different about OhLife is that instead of getting stacked in a pile of books on your bedside table and forgotten, OhLife asks you to post every day with a simple email, which poses the question “How was your day?” Feeling uninspired to write? It will even include a random snippet from an old entry if you so desire. All you need to do is respond, and you’ve posted in your online diary. You can log on to the website for a blog-like view of your old entries. I use OhLife as my only daily diary, and have been for over one year and counting. That’s the longest I’ve ever consistently written in a diary. How to use it for specific goals? Well, if eating Raw Foods is your goal, keep a journal of your challenges, successes and questions you have, or just as a general log of your progress.
Not sure which one to choose?
Well, if you’re looking to form a single new habit, or break an old one, HabitForge is the way to go. Habit Forge is the most persistent of the three. And it’s really infuriating when the clock resets itself back to day one. I found myself creating new habits before the 21 days ended.
If you have a more complex set of goals that you want to really ‘track’, Joe’s Goals is your ticket. It will especially appeal those who are very analytical and like charts and data. I found it to be a really powerful way to visualize all of my goals in one place.
Finally, if you want a simple but flexible daily journal that will politely remind you to write in it, OhLife is excellent. Just don’t use all three services at once, or you’ll end up needing to create a habit forge to remind you to respond to OhLife and track it all in Joe’s Goals.
Ethan Waldman believes that you should always have control of the technology in your life. He coaches and shares his passion for technology at Cloud-Coach.net, where you can enter to win a month of free coaching (contest ends April 13th).