A goal properly set is halfway reached.
I believe in goal setting.
I think setting an intention sets something in motion, in your own mind, “and, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist).
And I believe that it takes 30 days of programming a habit for that habit to become second nature (this being something my dad used to say all. the. time).
I used to be a big fan of paper lists, but my daily to-do never seems to get done and it’s depressing to write it forward. Plus, when you have multiple goals you have multiple lists, and the whole scratching-out thing gets unsightly, so you have to keep writing fresh lists, and before you know it writing lists has become its own form of procrastination, another obstacle between you and your goals.
(Also, Jeff says that he won’t build me a hat wall to display my collection until I do something about all the paper. “You already have a collection. You collect piles of paper.”)
Enter Goalforit.com, a FREE online goal tracking and chore & behavior chart service.
“Goalforit is an online community of people committed to achieving success. We offer a variety of free tools to help people master the art of getting the right things done and bring more focus & personal success into everyday life.”
Now, there are two kinds of goals: long-term and day-to-day (habit formation). Goalforit works for both.
Goalforit allows you to create a goal with Goal Tracker, then invites you to list all the things you need to do to achieve that goal (Action Plan Steps). You’re also given a field to note your motivation for doing this.
After you fill in your info you get something like this:
This is lovely in that you can set items that are partially done in yellow, and see what % of your tasks you’ve accomplished. I ran through a number of goals and it’s astonishing what a difference it makes to actually list out EVERYTHING you need to do. Not only do I feel a bit more comfortable in my own head, but it’s much easier for me to break the tasks down into manageable chunks of time and get a feel for how I need to schedule my calendar to make some forward progress.
Public accountability goes a long way with goal setting, and Goalforit has integrated that notion. You can invite friends and family to join and view your progress, or set your privacy settings so that your goals are viewable by the public.
I like the idea of a group cheerleading effort a lot, but I’d also like the option to send specific things to Facebook, as that’s where everyone I know hangs out. If my goal is to live a healthier lifestyle and one of my Action Plan Steps is to run a five minute mile, once I’d accomplished that I’d love to be able to post it on my wall directly from my Goal Tracker!
Next we move on to the To Do list, which I think of as an extension of the Goal Tracker; if we’re being diligent our daily list should include some of these goal-oriented task-busting “manageable chunks of time.” With that in mind, I wish that there was an option to drag-and-drop items directly from the goal tracking lists onto the To Do list, or that the list opened to the side of the goal tracking so you could copy items over.
To Do lists can be emailed on a daily, weekly, monthly or one-time-only basis. No real bells or whistles here, just a pretty straightforward paper-saving solution.
Day-to-Day Habit Forming (Chore Lists)
I think that most families will find Goalforit’s real strength to be the Chore Chart.
The Chore Chart allows you to choose from an array of banners to customize its appearance. There are pre-designed options for the basic items most parents would ask of their young kids: chores & responsibilities (make bed, do homework), behavior goals (good manners at the table, go potty by yourself), and healthy habits (eat my veggies, floss). In addition, you can make your own (text only, although you can customize color). In my case, I added “lay out shoes & outfit for tomorrow” since finding her shoes and “favorite” pants is a constant stumbling block in Cassidy’s morning routine.
Then, you set the order in which you want the items to appear (another instance where drag-and-drop would have been nice, the arrows are vaguely annoying), the days the chores need doing, and any “Moolah” points you wish to assign.
Now, I’m going through Moolah with you specifically here because I don’t want you to make the mistake I did, which was to hit the ? button (indicated with big pink arrow on screenshot above) and lose everything I’d done so far.
Moolah is an optional point system you can use as an incentive for your child to successfully complete their Goals each day. You turn Moolah points on by assigning a point value (1-50) to each goal you have added to a chart during step 3 of the chart creation process. If you do not want to use Moolah points, just leave the Moolah point value set to zero for each goal (this is the default setting for Moolah for each goal).
Now, assuming Moolah points are turned on, a child earns Moolah each time they earn a progress sticker. The Moolah your child earns is saved up in a piggy bank that can be spent on rewards that you set up. You can see the Moolah Bank page by clicking on the “Moolah Bank” button in the upper right corner of your Chart.
Very cute, and I’m thinking I might set up a Moolah-specific chart for “extra” jobs around the house that need doing and I don’t have time for. However, I don’t pay out for daily chores, I consider that to be what we do for each other as a family, to keep life moving smoothly.
So, here we have Cassidy’s finished product. Or a portion of it, anyway:
As each chore is done, she gets to pick out a virtual sticker. Very cute and for her, very effective.
Motivation is what gets you started.
Habit is what keeps you going.
For Jake, I was needing a little less cute and a little more nudge-y. There is a Tween and Teen Chore Chart that is basically the same concept, but the graphics are a bit more grownup :).
Here’s what he ended up with.
Still a bit on the cute side, but completely serviceable.
So, overall I love the concepts and easy set-up of the Goal Tracker and the Chore Charts. Where I ran into trouble was with implementation.
Goalforit sends you, the parent, a daily reminder email to review your charts. However, for the little ones it makes more sense to check things off as they go, or review the day before bedtime. My kids are only allowed 15 minutes of computer time each before dinner, to practice their math drills. I’m not willing to fire up the internet right before bed for them. So, for the younger kids I went with printing the charts out and hanging them on the fridge, and they bring them to me when I have to sign off on their homework. Then on the weekends they can transfer onto the online version.
For teens and adults, though, I really wish there was some sort of texting or email integration. What I had hoped was that, when I set up my own chore chart, I could have an email reminder sent to me at 1pm to eat my lunch. And one on Wednesday mornings, to drag the trash cans up to the driveway. Similarly, I’d like my son to get a reminder nightly at 8:45pm that the dishwasher needs to be started before he goes to bed. It would be awesome if he received that as a text— since then I’d know he’d see it— and then could reply with DONE, which would then check that item off his chart.
Basically, I don’t want one more reason for my kids to be online during the school week. It’s the ongoing battle of the technomom.
But again, I have to say I really like the Goalforit experience. I do have some nitpicky issues, but that’s mostly because I’ve been searching for the perfect goal/action step software for a while now and I have very specific wants.
For someone who is trying to instill daily behavior & chore habits in their kids, though, or getting started setting intentions and goals? Goalforit is a great place to start.
If you try it out and opt for public settings, let me know and I’ll be your cheerleader.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.
Henry David Thoreau
How do you keep track of your goals and to-dos? Have you found a program you really love?
What specific features are you looking for?
I would LOVE your feedback.
Disclosure time! I was very pleased to be asked to test drive and review the Goalforit.com website, and I was compensated for my time. However, as always, all (admittedly long-winded) opinions are my own.