I have gone through a recent journey that I’d like to share with you all. As a recovering engineer, a life-coach and a practicing business coach; I have struggled getting fully organized. I have always thought there was some nirvana of organization… and when I found it, life would be EASY. With that said, I had a problem. I would come to my office; knowing I needed to do something important; and then 2-hours later be surfing the internet; or checking my email for the 40th time to see if I got a new client; or some important correspondence.
I consider myself a very aware person. And, I was very aware of my challenge. I had all of these grand plans, but no way to put them into a daily task list that would allow me to make reasonable progress. As all of us engineers think, there must be some technology that will bail me out of my current disorganization predicament. So, I went on a search last week to find the ideal goal setting application. I went through 36-different organization applications and found the one I wanted. Better yet, I discovered a very simple organization system that I plan to use myself and plan to help my business coaching clients use as well. I want to introduce you to my simple goal setting and planning process.
The first step in setting goals is to create a ‘bucket list’ of sorts. Think about what you want to accomplish in your life. Think about what you want to be and what you want to do. Think about the ideal place you’d like to live; the ideal job you will have and exactly what your family will be like. This is your opportunity to dream. You don’t have to dream big; or dream small; but you do need to be authentic. In order to be authentic, you need to define what you really want without fear.
In order to fully live this experience in your mind, it helps to do ‘visioning’. Visioning is quite different than what most people think of when I ask them to create a vision. Visioning is experiencing a specific moment in time where you can say that you have ARRIVED. You close your eyes, recite the smells, the sounds, the feelings and the thoughts that you experience at that point in your life. Visioning is more than simply creating a visual representation; or a paper representation of your vision; it is an experiential representation of your vision.
Create a List
Once you have lived in your future moment, write down all that you will need to accomplish to get you to that one place in time. Write down a list of all of the items that you’s like to achieve for yourself whether it is part of this grand vision or not. This could be as simple as folding laundry to as elaborate as wind surfing across the Mediterranean Sea. All you need to do is create a list. This list is quite random at first. You can create health goals of weighing a certain amount, or having a certain amount of wealth in order to live your dream or you can have goals to help so many people move from poverty to wealth. It doesn’t matter what you want… it’s your vision; not mine.
Your newly created list should be quite long. It will be comprised of short term, medium term, routine tasks, and long term goals. It may even have some habit goals of reducing negative habits or taking on positive habits. The next step, is to break your list into two simple categories: 1) Projects; and 2) Habits.
A project is usually a long term objective. Let’s say that you want to live in a 4-bedroom lake-front home? While the result is clear, it is often not clear, how you will achieve this objective. Remember, the whole idea of planning, and goal setting is to be deliberate about your life. So, in order to achieve this beautiful home, you may need money. Or you may need to relocate. You may want to own a boat with this new property. A project is a break down of all of the steps you need to achieve in order to achieve your ultimate goal of owning your lake-front home. It may be necessary to break down your large project into mini-projects so that you can manage all of the tasks distinctly in order to achieve your end.
If your goal were to buy a lake-front house, your first mini-goal may be to get enough money to buy such a property. Let’s say this property costs $700,000. In order to get the money, you create a mini-project to earn $700,000; or enough to make a down payment; or whatever works in your plan. Depending on where you are in life, you may need a higher paying job, or to sell your company, or to sell more widgets. You then set mini-projects and goals that allow you to earn the money required for your larger dream.
I’m sure you have thought, “I want to lose 20-lbs.” You weigh yourself daily; and you are frustrated by what you see. You can’t seem to lose the weight. While results seem to be the focus of many goals in life; such a focus can be unhealthy. We become desperate to achieve a number. We think that this number will bring us some sort of happiness. Instead of focusing on the number, why not focus on modifying habits that have kept us at the wrong number?
Instead of focusing on losing 20-lbs, what if you focused on eliminating empty calories, or exercising more? Weight-watchers has created a point system to attempt to do just that. But you can create your own point system. If you track what you eat; how much you exercise; and what kinds of mind-altering drugs you put in your body; you will at least be aware of your behavior. This awareness will take you one of two directions: 1) guilt; or 2) action.
Now that you’ve got your list and it’s separated into PROJECTS and HABITS. All you have to do, is create a system to move your list into your daily life. This is where technology can help. As I mentioned at the first part of this post, I reviewed 36 different software applications. Only one of them allowed me to create my goals and action plans in the way that I just described. The name of the application is called Nach.
Nach allows you to create a Goal Map that is exactly like the one we have just described. You first create your list; and then put the list into Nach. You can classify your list as a HABIT or a GOAL or a TASK. Tasks are simply a break down of your Goals into projects. It allows you to break down your goals as granular as you’d like. You can then assign deadlines to each item, if you’d like, or you leave the item without a deadline.
On a daily basis, you will see the tasks, goals or habits in front of you; and you can check them off one by one as you complete them. Each task that you complete as part of your larger project or goal; you will know that you are making genuine forward progress toward your ultimate goal. When you live your life on a daily basis substituting bad habits with good habits, you will make progress in your health, or your ability, or whatever it is you’d like to accomplish.
As many of us know, life is not all about CREATING. In many cases, life is about MAINTAINING. If you have a house that tends to get messier than you’d like, you can create a habit to clean your house on regular intervals. Or you can create a habit of washing, drying and folding the clothes. Regardless of your life’s activity, you can put it all into Nach, and have a clear idea of what you can do on a daily basis to maintain and move your life forward to accomplish goals that matter to you.
My Software Review
I thought I would at least mention all of the software I reviewed in my search. This is a list with a simple evaluation and why it did or didn’t fit my organization system:
Habitica – ( https://habitica.com ) Very cool game for daily, weekly and monthly positive habit forming goals. Did not see anything that would apply to long-term life goals. Tried it out; and it seems limited. They force you through their set of goals/habits in order to level up.
GoalScape – ( https://goalscape.com/en/ ) Life-wheel type living and goal setting on desktop. Good for long term goals or projects. No conversion of those long-term goals to daily tasks, weekly tasks or habits. The online version locks up a lot. Felt like I could set up goals; but would be difficult to use on a daily/weekly basis for planning.
Remente – ( https://remente.com/ )Seems like a good goal setting application, but required monthly payment to access coaching platform. Mental training may be helpful, but not what I’m looking for.
Coach.me – ( https://www.coach.me/ )Simple daily,weekly, monthly habit accountability. Tried to use Application and it wanted me to join a group. Not sure I want all of my goals to be public.
HabitBull – ( http://www.habitbull.com/ )Simple habit tracking application; Tried to set up a habit of running 10-miles per week within a year; and it was SO HARD. It only allows a 2-mile per day; or check-mark to make sure you ran.
GoalMaker – ( http://goalmaker.com/ )Seems like it could be a good program; but the site is too cloogy; and can’t find out enough about it to make a determination.
GoalsonTrack – ( http://www.goalsontrack.com/ ) Very comprehensive system. Interface is not user-friendly. Has long and short term goal setting and seems to break down large objectives into mini-goals and then allows you to create daily task lists. After trying it out, I couldn’t easily change dates and other items that I needed to make this work for my needs. Okay at building projects and terrible at habit tracking.
LifeTick ( https://lifetick.com/ ) Tried free-trial. Don’t like how you set up goals; allows tasks for each goal, but no subtasks or subgoals. Trying to connect goals to values; but don’t like method. There is no phone app that allows you to check off completed tasks…. so I’d have to log into their online platform to make updates. This draw-back would be a hassle for daily habits.
Single Step ( http://www.single-step.com/ ) Hard to understand what this software does on it’s website. Seems like it makes goal setting very complicated.
WayofLife – ( http://wayoflifeapp.com/ )Seems like a good habit tracker; but not much more; and is primarily is for the smartphone. After I installed it, I had no clue how to use this application.
MindBloom – ( https://www.mindbloom.com/lifegame )Interesting graphics that grow as you accomplish various aspects of your life. It seems like a personal life balance tracker; and not really a serious goal setting application.
Joe’s Goals – ( http://www.joesgoals.com/ )A simple daily habit counter. Need more to be able to plan daily on larger goals.
Stickk – ( http://www.stickk.com/ ) Integrates social accountability into simple goal setting. Not that robust when it comes to breaking up goals into sub-goals or projects.
21Habit – ( http://www.21habit.com/ ) Good for setting a habit. This application assumes, if you do it 21 times in a row, it will become a habit. Very simple, not for complex goals. Put your own $21 on the line, if you don’t follow through.
43Things – ( https://43things.com/ ) A community application to help others and yourself achieve simple goals.
Beeminder – ( https://www.beeminder.com/ ) Simple goal/habit setting with financial penalty. Similar to 21Habit.
TimeThoughts – ( http://timethoughts.com/ ) Seems like a comprehensive planner. Old interface; and too rigid. Looks like an old version of Microsoft Project. No phone application; or habit tracking feature.
GoalEnforcer – ( http://www.goalenforcer.com/ ) Graphic tool for breaking down simple tasks into linked subtasks. I used a trial version and it wasn’t user-friendly. It shows the inter-connectivity of complex projects; but not a good goal setting, habit tracking and daily planning application.
AchievePlanner – ( http://www.effexis.com/ ) Looks like a form of Microsoft Project. Hard to find any videos or information that says how it works; and doesn’t look like it is any longer supported.
LifeTopix – ( http://lightarrow.com/apps/lifetopix-app ) Apple software only. Seems a little too complicated and don’t like the user interface.
Strides – ( https://www.stridesapp.com/ ) iPhone only. (I bounce back and forth with Microsoft and Apple; so I need dual citizenship 🙂 )
GoalsWizard – ( https://goalswizard.com/ ) Good personal improvement application for smartphone. Did not see ability to break down large goals into sub-goals. iPhone only.
LivePlan – ( https://www.liveplan.com/ ) Business planning software… not applicable for me right now. May be a good tool to help my business owner clients or myself at some point.
Grant Cordone 10X Planner – ( https://grantcardone.com/products/the-10x-daily-planner ) Not that different from a traditional day-planner.
OnTargetGoals – ( Link ) Too simple. I can set a goal and some tasks; but no habit tracking; and no grand plan.
StartPlanner – ( https://startplanner.com/ ) Seems like a good paper planner. Need to buy a different one for each year. Want something that helps with much longer term goals.
Toodledo – ( https://www.toodledo.com/ ) Good for daily ToDo lists; but doesn’t seem to apply to larger habit tracking or goal setting.
Loop – ( Link ) Simple habit tracking application
SmartSheet – ( https://www.smartsheet.com/ ) Corporate team task and project tracking like Microsoft Project. Not for individual goal setting.
Goalify – ( Link ) Has Flex, Task, Bad, and Limit categories. Nothing for projects that include multiple tasks; Seems like it could be good for habits you track on your phone only.
Arrange – ( Link ) Hard to understand. Seems like you can set up goals with checklists; but not sure how you show status or completion. User interface seems quite square and doesn’t make sense to me.
Productivity Burst – ( Link ) A Microsoft ToDo List creator and tracker. Seems like it’s good for long ToDo Lists, but not really created for habit or goal tracking which is what I’m looking for. User interface seems quite amateur.
Nach – ( https://nachapp.com/ ) Perfect for with my personal goal/project planning; Low cost at $5/month. After trying it out, the application on my desktop has everything. Great goals, tasks, habits, and the user interface is extremely user-friendly. The phone is currently a web application. They are working on an Android and iPhone application. Web app works well as it is. Blown away with how well this application fits my approach to goal setting, habit tracking and daily task lists. Extremely user friendly and flexible.
Trello – ( https://trello.com/ ) Great and flexible general application. Like Excel. I don’t know how to integrate Trello into a goal setting or habit forming application. It would be good for anyone who uses Trello on a daily basis and can create their own project lists. Don’t think it can ever track habits the way I want.
Although I searched and tried a lot of applications. I stopped once I found what I was looking for. There may be others out there. Prior to finding Nach after three solid days of searching, I was getting tempted to create my own.
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