Setting and Achieving Personal Goals with Evernote

18. June 2013 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Productivity  //  Tags:   //   Comments

There's a saying that goes, "If you don't know where you're going, then any path will get you there." One of the key attributes of high achievers is that they know exactly where they want to go by creating personal goals for themselves. Now, that's not to say that they have always taken the straightest path towards their goals, but high achievers make a commitment to take small steps forward on a consistent basis to put themselves closer to goal achievement. In this blog post, I'm going to show you how you can use the power of Evernote to help you set your own personal goals, be more productive and become a high achiever.

Setting Up Your Goals in Evernote

The first thing that you’ll want to do when setting up your goals in Evernote is to create a notebook stack to house all the goals that you'll create. You'll use individual notebooks nested under this stack for each of your goals and each notebook will house the various notes and components of each goal. For the purposes of this tutorial, let’s create a sample goal of "Take a vacation to Hawaii."

Create an Outline of Your Goal

The first part of any successful goal is to plan out the details of exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Create a note within your goals notebook and label it as "Outline." We’re going to use this note to brainstorm the primary milestones and specifics that this goal entails. Just like any project, a well-defined goal is one that follows the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. These are the specific criteria that your goal needs to have in order to maximize the chances that you'll achieve it. Within your note, you’ll want to answer these main questions:

  • What specifically do I want to achieve?
  • How will I know if I have achieved my goal or not?
  • Am I setting a realistic goal that I can actually achieve?
  • Why is this goal important to me?
  • What is the deadline for this goal?

Establishing Your Goal Milestones

After we establish the specifics about our personal goal, we're going to need to chunk our main goal down into smaller parts, or sub-goals, so that your goal is easier to work with. The easiest place to start is by coming up with your goal milestones. These are simply major events associated with your goal that act like checkpoints that will tell us whether or not we're making progress on our goal or not. Milestones are different than tasks in that milestones don’t require any action in and of themselves, whereas tasks are individual units of action that push a goal forward towards completion. So you can't actually do a milestone, rather it's more of a target that you want to reach as you progress towards completion. Think of milestones like climbing a mountain. A climber wants to get to the halfway point, let's say the 10,000 foot mark. That's their milestone that lets them know they're getting closer to completing their goal. Coming up with goal milestones is the easiest place to start because we often don't immediately know what the individual tasks associated with a large goal actually are or we don't know exactly where to begin, but if we begin to break our main goal into manageable projects, then those tasks become more apparent.

A simple example of goal milestones is a project of cleaning the house. There might be an overwhelming amount of individual next actions that need to be completed to get this project done, but if we start with the major components of that project such as, living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc., we can chunk this project down into smaller, more manageable sub-projects. Referring back to our example of "Take a vacation to Hawaii" some of the primary milestones might include:

  • Time off work approved
  • Vacation money saved
  • Flight & hotel booked

Listing Your Next Actions

After you establish your milestones, you need to create a list of action steps that will enable you to start moving your goal forward. You can create a list of actions by creating a new note in Evernote entitled "Next Actions," and use the checkbox function to create your list of action steps to complete. Sometimes it is helpful to bundle some of your actions by logical groups or sub-goals. It often happens that some of your actions steps might not be immediately apparent, but that’s okay, so long as you have at least one next action listed that will move your goal forward.

Create a Vision Board

Our minds work visually, so having pictures that represents the outcome of the goal that we want to achieve polarizes our minds to make it happen. That's what vision boards are for. A traditional vision board is a corkboard with pictures attached to it that helps us visualize what we want to accomplish. Evernote makes it easy to create a simple digital vision board. Simply create a new note within your goal entitled, “Vision Board,” and start dropping images that show the successful outcome of that particular goal within the note. If your goal is to take a vacation to Hawaii, then find some photos of Hawaii on the net and drop them into your Vision Board note. If you're taking your family along with you, then you might want to include photos of them as well. It's important that those images allow you to experience a feeling of having already accomplished that goal so that your mind gets entrained to seek out ways to make your goal become a reality. Make sure whenever you’re working on your goal that you give a moment to look over your Evernote vision board and allow your sub-conscious mind to start working on ways to make that goal happen.

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