The holiday rush is over and the new year is here. You probably dedicated a considerable amount of time during the final months of 2016 to planning for this very moment—the moment when you’d open the calendar to 2017 and start pursuing 12 months of new goals.
You’ve most likely heard about the rules of proper goal-setting—write them down, divide large goals into small steps, make them s.m.a.r.t., and so on—so let’s go a step beyond that. How are you going to track your progress toward these goals? Will you read your list of goals on January 1, begin work, and never reference the actual goals again? This is one area of life where a “set it and forget it” attitude definitely won’t work!
Periodically reviewing your goals will help you stay focused and forward-driven. Review sessions can inspire a sense of ownership over your goals. Plus, by analyzing your progress, you’ll be able to recognize how God has lead you through challenges in the past and see the opportunities he is giving you to succeed in the future. It’s also a great opportunity to hear critiques and positive feedback.
You can evaluate your goals on your own or enlist the help of your fellow ministry workers. Reviewing your goals for just 30 minutes each week will keep you on track for fulfilling your top ministry objectives of 2017. Use one tactic or implement your own combination of these methods and see where it takes you!
A progress report is a straightforward way to keep track of the actions and circumstances that are affecting your goals. Essentially, your progress report will answer the three biggest questions: What’s working? What’s going wrong? What do I need to change?
One of the simplest ways to make use of progress reports is to create a template on your computer. You may find it useful to create your template in a program like Excel—create a document for each goal and utilize one spreadsheet for each week. List these five progress-trackers:
- Ways I have seen God at work through this goal this week
- Completed actions from the past week that have brought me closer to the goal
- Complications from the past week that have set back my progress
- Modifications I need to make this week
- Three action steps to complete this week
Make time to reflect on each topic and fill in each section honestly. As you go through the year, you can easily look back at reports from the past and see the progress you have made.
For this goal-tracking technique, forget the computer—you just need a pen and paper. Having a visual reminder (or several!) will make sure that the goal is always top-of-mind. It can also help you see your past successes and visualize the remaining steps.
- Draw a progress bar (something like this) and divide it into sections. Each section should refer to a step you’ll be taking to reach your goal. Once you’ve achieved that step, color in the section. Keep going until all the sections are filled and you’ve accomplished your goal.
- Create a timeline for your goal. Draw a simple line, add dates, and create offshoots for the steps you’ll be taking to reach your goal.
- Get a calendar and employ the “Seinfeld Strategy.” (Read more about the history of this technique here.) Find one task that you can do every day that will bring you closer to your goal. Every day you complete that task, put a big red “X” on the calendar. Soon you’ll have a chain of “X” days. Challenge yourself to see how many days can you keep that chain going.
Other than you, who knows the most about your ministry goals? Your peers and co-workers. That’s why having show-and-tell sessions in the office can be a great way to track goals. Each Friday, schedule 30 minutes to gather with your co-workers. Everybody gets two minutes to show his or her progress to the group and tell about the action plan for the week. If schedules allow, make time for the group to provide feedback, critiques, and encouragement.
If you don’t have a team of co-workers or your schedules are tight, make use of social media. Get a community-based goal-tracking app (try coach.me or i.DoneThis) and invite your colleagues to sign up, too. You can also hold yourself accountable on Twitter or Facebook.
The most important thing to remember is this: don’t review your goals simply for the sake of reviewing. Put your goal tracking to work and base your future steps on what you’ve learned in the past.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in CTA’s Expand Your Impact newsletter. If you’d like to receive this monthly newsletter, you can subscribe here.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2016 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.