Review of The Best Online Goal Tracking Tools for Personal Use
There are many online tools available for keeping track of and measuring progress on your goals. Many corporations have started to incorporate goal systems (Success Factors is one example) and S.M.A.R.T. goals. Not all goal systems utilize this method, however, it is widely accepted as an excellent way to achieve results with your goals. The following is a look at how to measure your personal goals and a review of some of the best online tools for measuring your goals.
So, what are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
S – Specific (the more specific the better)
M – Measurable (The criteria that you will use as measurement that you have completed a goal, such as getting your degree, etc)
A – Achievable (Do you currently have the skills and resources needed to reach this goal?)
R – Relevant (How does this goal tie to your passion or purpose?)
T - Time-dimension (When will you aim to start and finish the goal, will there be milestones to reach along the way?)
Many of these goals start with the questions (that you then fill in the blank for):
- Why do you want to achieve this goal?
- Next ask yourself, what specific benefits will come with achieving it?
- When will you achieve it by? (time factor)
- How you plan to achieve the goal?
There is a growing philosophy that if you share your resolutions or goals with others, your friends, family, or a social community can help encourage you to stay on track and keep your goals alive. The same often holds true for other areas in life, such as getting in shape, isn’t it more fun to do when you have a friend that will meet you at the gym and hold you accountable for sticking to your work out goals? So, some of the online tools focus on the social sharing element of goal tracking.
Best Online Goal Tracking Tools of 2010:
GoalsOnTrack.com Rating: $68/year subscription
This simple, easy to use tool does a great job of allowing you to track your goals, visually chart your progress and see reports, create specific action plans, manage daily tasks associated with your goals, track specific time spent, as well as keeping a journal for your additional thoughts and inspirations that you want to capture. You can assign visual pictures with your goals, set overall categories with specific goals beneath that category, and assign any type of progress metric you want to show your measurement (dollars, percentage, etc). It follows the S.M.A.R.T. goal model. You can print out your goals, your daily tasks, and really use this tool to get on track. You can set email reminders, import and export your tasks to CSV or for iCal format, and much more. Just check out their full list of features on the site. This tool costs money, yet I believe its worth the investment if you want a full suite of highly effective goal tracking tools.
SuperViva.com Rating: Free
SuperViva is a social sharing goal or “life” tracking site that allows you to create goals to share or keep private. SuperViva was created in 2006 (runs ads and accepts donations to support it). It allows you to set up weekly reminders to check in with your list of goals. Super viva offers something closer to the SMART goal method by allowing you to group your goals, set specific goals within an overall list, assign what “Life Dimension” your goal applies to (Personal, Family, Finances, Community, etc) and also set the start and completion dates, priority, effort needed and budget needed. You can mark a goal as completed, on the backburner, or remove it. There is a section to find ideas from the community and ‘get inspired.’ Nice overall concept for a free tool, however, I find it difficult to navigate and you cannot visually see and chart your progress on a goal.
Goalmigo.com Rating: Free
Goalmigo is also a social sharing goal tracking tool. You start by adding your goals, and adding who is going to help hold you accountable or your ‘Supporters’ for your goals. You enter your completion date, and can set up reminders in day, week or month increments. A great feature is that you can assign a tracking log (they have some already listed such as weight, calories, etc). You can assign tags to help you to share your goal in the social environment. Once you set your goals, you can mark them as complete and also add milestones in your “Log” which display in a bar chart format. Beyond that, you can visually see a reminder of how long you have remaining to complete you goal such as “One Month Remaining”. You can also add notes to your goals. There are ads on this site, but otherwise its a pretty clean and user friendly interface.
eLifeList.com Rating: Free
eLifeList is another social sharing tool which allows public or private goal tracking. What’s awesome about this tool, is that it has very useful categories and goals already entered in it. I’m not sure if there are from the community or were created ahead of time, but they can help you get started. You can add descriptions, photos or videos to your list, and also set reminders to be sent to your email. The site is pretty user friendly, though some of the features you don’t edit until after you’ve set the goal, such as reminders. I would think you’d create everything when you are creating the goal. You can mark the goal as complete, and see a progress indicator (from 0-100%) of how far you are toward reaching your goals. From the design of the site, it appears to be focused on a younger demographic (perhaps college students?). Overall, it does the job for simple goal tracking.
LifeTango.com Rating: Free
LifeTango is a very clean and effective goal tracking tool. As the other tools, you can choose if you want public or private goals. You can sort by priority, date, and other categories. You have to manually update the progress you are at in your goal by a percentage from 0-100%. Ongoing, periodic goals are considered “Tasks” and are tracked using their “Task Tracker” (as opposed to goals that you want to assign a specific due date for). And example of a Task Tracker goal would be to workout every day for 1 year. You would then set these recurring tasks and mark your progress daily. They assign stars that you click on to indicate that you have completed your recurring task goal (kinda cute like when you were a kid and got stars for getting something done). There is also a fun little sticky note for “reminders”. Overall, I like this site for their Task tracking but I think it is a little confusing for tracking larger picture life goals.
Stickk.com – Rating: Free
Stick is a tool meant to motivate you to stick to your goals through the use of accountability with other people and putting a bet or monetary value at stake if you don’t meet your goals. It is much more focused on coaching and pushing you to achieve your goals than any of the other tools. You start by setting a goal (Referred to as a Commitment Contract, much more formal and committed sounding!), then setting the ‘stakes’ or what’s at risk to complete it (You literally have to pay out money to your selected charity or person if you miss your goal deadlines), then you ‘get a referee’ or a person in your life to to push you meet your goals, and you can also add friends to help you achieve your goals. Many of their pre-set goals are around losing weight, quitting smoking, or other life-changing habits that it often takes a ‘coach’ to help with. However, it can be used for other goal tracking as well. You can set the category, whether it is a one-time or recurring event, get reminders and view your progress. Oh, and you don’t HAVE to set a “Stake” of financial value, you can still use this tool without the pressure of a stake. For many people though, I can imagine that this method (fear of losing your money!) works great for actually getting them motivated and on track. This is by far the most unique of the tools I’ve seen.
GoalsTogether.com Rating: Free
This free social sharing site offers the ability to create and track your goals, and share them with the community. You can choose to have private or public goals. You can search for other goals for people in the community. It allows ‘basic’ goals which are manually updated for progress, and ‘checkpoint’ goals which you set the checkpoints or milestones needed to attain the goal at the beginning of the tool. When you have completed a task in the goal, you mark it as complete by checking it off, like you would on a to-do list. Overall, I would say that this tool is very basic, and not all that useful for the serious person trying to implement a SMART goal process or anything much more than a task list. There are ads on this site.
43Things.com Rating: Free
I saw this mentioned often as a goal tracking site, but it really isn’t. This site is really just a simple social site to measure trends for goals and resolutions with the answer to 1 question: “What do you want to do in the year 2010?”. To me, it seems similar to Twitter and many other social sharing tools, so who knows if it will be used a lot. Cute idea, but not that helpful for achieving your goals.
Which one to choose?
You decide. Just keep in mind, when searching for a goal tracking tool, I would recommend determining if you simply want to have to do lists, or if you are ready to have specific goals with associated tasks. Goal tracking is about all of the small tasks (from your TO DO Lists) that add up to one overarching goal. Sometimes, you may have random TO DO’s that don’t really seem like they fit into any goal, but you feel that they have to get done anyway. Go ahead and add them to the list and perhaps even do them, but first consider: WHY am I doing some task if it doesn’t help me reach any of my goals? This can lead to the type of self reflection that will ultimately help you to reduce the amount of mindless, or purposeless tasks that you are doing, and help you to find the best use of your time.
Let me know your thoughts on these tools or if there are some great ones that I have missed.