10 Simple Tools to Crush Your Goals in 2017

When I first became a homeowner, my toolbox consisted of a hammer, a few random screwdrivers, and a paint scraper. Every home improvement project meant another trip to the hardware store to pick up a new tool.

Me: “Can you tell me where to find your most powerful blowtorch?”
Clerk: “Um … can I ask what you’re working on?”

Since then, I’ve amassed a collection of tools that’s sufficient for most any job.

Just as the right tool is essential when working around the house, we need tools to reach our most important personal goals.

Here are 10 simple tools you can use to power your 2017 goal pursuits.

[1] Mind Map
A mind map is a diagram that helps you visually organize information. When I set personal goals, I like to make sure they cover multiple areas in my life. A mind map helps me quickly take a “big picture” view of my goals, drill down into the details, and make adjustments as necessary. You can make a mind map using a single sheet of paper, but because you’re going to want to make frequent changes, a down-and-dirty set of sticky notes is a better option.

I like to have my mind map with me at all times, so I use an app called MindNode. Other mind mapping software options include Mindjet, Mindmeister, and XMind. In a pinch, you can use Microsoft PowerPoint or Lucidchart for mind mapping, as well.

[2] Vision Board
A vision board is a collection of images or graphics that relate to your goals and aspirations. Saving your pennies for a shiny new car? Why not grab a pic of the model you want? You can collect symbolic pictures related to fitness, career, or family goals … whatever you’d like to make a part of your life. Any time you need a boost of motivation, have a satisfying look at your vision board.

If you want to learn more, check out productivity legend Jack Canfied’s tips on creating a vision board.

[3] Inspirational Quotes
I love to read the inspirational words of historical figures, philosophers, artists, and other accomplished people. Their quotes can instill wisdom, enthusiasm, and commitment. Each week, I choose a new inspirational quote, and I post it outside my office for myself and my co-workers.

You can find inspirational quotes using keyword search terms at one of any number of quote sites. One of my favorites is BrainyQuote. I’ve also started using GoodReads for quotes from book passages. If you’re a visual person, there are also gobs of photo-and-quote pins on Pinterest and at Quotographed.

[4] Blogs
There are several great blogs covering the topics of motivation, success, productivity, and other important goal-related topics. While I consume a variety of books, audiobooks, and magazines on these topics, I particularly like following bloggers. They post frequently on a wide variety of subjects, and you can easily make a personal connection with them through social media.

Some of my favorite follows are Michael Hyatt, James Clear, and Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. I also enjoy posts featured on The Muse and Lifehack.

[5] Calendar
The best goals are framed as time-based goals, so a calendar is an essential goal-setting tool. I use a combination of print and online calendars to manage my goal pursuits. I have different versions representing different time periods.

Like most people, I use Outlook and Apple’s Calendar app to manage my daily and weekly appointments. At home, my bride and I use a weekly planner drawn onto a 4’ x 6’ whiteboard mounted in our kitchen. It helps us manage a household that includes three busy teenagers, a horse, a dog, and a cat. In my office, I’ve posted long-range calendars that cover 3-month, 1-year, and 2-year planning periods.

If I miss a deadline, it won’t be because I don’t have enough calendars!

[6] To Do App
I am an unapologetic To Do List junkie. For years, I maintained a written log of my To Do lists in a bright pink notebook. I chose pink because it was easy to locate anywhere in the house. A few years ago, I went high-tech by downloading a to do app that runs on my phone, my tablet, my laptop, and the family iMac. I use it to track my progress, auto-schedule recurring tasks, group and label activities, set reminders, and more.

My to do app of choice is Todoist, but there are many including Wunderlist, Remember The Milk, and Any.do among others.

[7] Visible Reminders
For too many people, goals are “out of sight, out of mind”. Once you’ve put in the effort to set a great goal, make sure you keep it front-and-center. It’s easy to write your goal on a sticky note and post it on your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, or your refrigerator.

Any place that reminds you that a better you awaits is the right place. If you find that your goal reminder is fading into the background after a while, simply move it to a new location.

[8] Spreadsheet
Spreadsheets aren’t just for finance nerds. You can create a simple spreadsheet that clearly lays out your goal intentions. Then you can use it to track your progress toward making your goals a reality. Thanks to online tools like Google Sheets, you can always have your goals spreadsheet at your fingertips. That makes this tool particularly powerful for daily progress tracking.

If you want to tap into the behavior-changing power of spreadsheets, check out my recent blog post that explains how.

[9] Journal
When we pursue our goals – particularly challenging ones – we have to develop new skills, conjure up new ideas, and confront emotional trials and tribulations. A personal journal can serve as a key ally in this process of personal development. Capturing your thoughts and feelings may sound a bit new age to some, but just a few minutes a day can make a dramatic shift if you’re willing to give it a go.

One of the best instructional guides I’ve seen on how to keep a journal is this audiobook from my virtual mentor Jim Rohn. It’s an easy, breezy listen for high achievers.

[10] Accountability Partner
A great way to ensure that you follow through on a goal is to tell someone close to you about your intentions. Whether you tap your spouse, a friend, or a co-worker, a bit of added accountability can go a long way. If your goal buddy is pursuing a similar goal – think healthy eating habits, reading for professional development, or cleaning out the clutter – all the better as you can push one another on to victory.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of recruiting an accountability partner, check out Jessica Stillman’s article on this topic.


What do you think? Are there any tools I’ve missed? Please share your suggestions using the comments section below.

(Featured image by Unsplash.)

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2 thoughts on “10 Simple Tools to Crush Your Goals in 2017

  1. Thanks, Bill! Best of luck for a productive and successful 2017!