People have ideas about how to improve their lives but struggle to realize them. It’s just hard. Perhaps about half of New Year’s Resolutions are successful six months in.
Life is complicated. It is easy to simply forget about goals. Even if you keep your goal in mind, you can get discouraged when there is a setback. You might have a hard time even telling if you’re on track or not
The basic need is for a clear goal that is committed to some more or less permanent form, with specific measures to quantify it, and an easily maintainable picture of progress towards the goal. You should be able to spend at most 5 minutes a day updating progress, about half an hour per week reviewing, an hour a quarter doing a deeper review, and maybe a couple of hours doing an annual review. It is important that it is quick and easy to set up and maintain this system. I have been experimenting with this kind of thing for years now and the current iteration seems to work reasonably well.
I lay out the long-term vision using diagramming software (I use an app called Whimsical), with a picture to represent each major aspect of the desired future and 1–3 specific measures for each aspect. So for fitness, I have a picture of what I want to look like in 2025, and a few target metrics like body fat percentage. The idea here is to set the overall vision, as well as some specific numbers to make it concrete.
Then, leading up to each end state are a series of phases and milestones. I break this down into quarters. A quarter is a chunk of time in which a significant amount can be accomplished, but there is little enough time that there is urgency. So I can see a path leading to the ultimate goal, and, I hope, feel a sense of progress. I can see how the current quarter is on a clear path to a meaningfully better future.
To keep track of progress, I have everyday habits I track using the app Kin. Then I track projects in my note-taking system, assigning about one project to each week.
Together, this covers the everyday to the weekly to the quarterly to the annual and 5-year timespans, and doesn’t require too much work. It’s not an elegant all-in-one solution, but it is working for now.