Have you ever been excited about setting New Year's resolutions only to never follow through with them? Yeah, I was like that too. At first, I thought I wasn’t working hard enough. That I lacked self-discipline. Eventually, though, I realized that working harder was an excuse to deflect from the bigger problem—I was unorganized.
I didn’t have a system to hold myself accountable and keep me on track. My intentions were pure, but I had no plan for how to succeed. That is until I discovered Notion two years ago.
Instead of relying on sheer willpower, I leveraged the power of Notion to build a goal-setting template to set, track, and hit my goals. But I didn’t just stop there. A goal tracker is valuable, but it’s only as useful as the goals you feed it. Success, therefore, would be determined by how good my template is at helping me set goals worth achieving.
How to Set Goals Worth Achieving
To create goals worth achieving, you have to set goals you want. Sounds obvious, right? But if you're being honest, when was the last time you did something because you wanted it and not because your parents, friends, or society told you that you should want it?
For example, I used to set an annual goal to compete in a local powerlifting competition. I’ve always enjoyed weightlifting, so I thought it was the obvious next step. But years passed, and I never competed. I had failed to realize that working out at a gym filled with serious powerlifters had led me to mimic their desires. I thought I wanted to compete, but I was never serious about wanting to invest the time and energy necessary to make it happen.
So, like any discipline, there’s an art and science to setting and hitting your goals. The process of reaching your goals should be just as enjoyable as the moment you finally achieve them. With that said, here’s the high-level structure I use to set goals worth achieving:
- 25-Year Vision
- Annual Goals
- Quarterly Goals
- Monthly Goals
- Weekly Goals
- Daily Goals
To key to setting goals worth achieving is that you’ve got to think long-term. I’m talking 25-years long. You want to create what Taylor Pearson calls your 25-Year Vision to drive each layer of your high-level structure. Specifically, you’re looking to find that overlap between what you do well, what you enjoy doing, and what people will recognize you for.
I realize that thinking about who you want to be and what you want to accomplish in 25 years can feel overwhelming, if not downright impossible. I mean, who doesn’t have a change in interests, wants, and desires like every 5-10 years? But the purpose of the 25-year vision isn’t to predict what your future self wants; it’s to reframe your thinking so that you’re not just chasing the latest shiny object.
When you start with a 25-year vision, you give yourself an excuse to set audacious goals that currently seem impossible to achieve. You’re crafting the ultimate vision of who you want to become in all areas of your life.
How to Track Your Goals Using Notion
Now, I’ll show you how to create your high-level goal-setting template—from your 25-year Vision down to your Daily Goals—all inside Notion. And if customizing your template inside Notion isn’t your thing, you can access the exact template I use at the end of the article.
Let’s get started!
This is the page where you get to have the most fun, but you also want to take it seriously (after all, it’s your future we’re talking about). I suggest blocking off at least an hour to really think about what you want to get out of your one shot at life.
Remember, this vision doesn’t bind you. It’s there to help you think big by giving you the excuse to set goals that currently seem impossible. This is your chance to be the director of the life you want to live, so don’t hold back!
While the 25-year Vision will ultimately set your direction, the actual goal-setting starts here. These are the goals that you want to accomplish by the end of the year.
Your Annual Goals template breaks out into three focus areas: Professional, Physical, and Personal. Feel free to add another area of focus, but these three should be non-negotiable.
Underneath your annual goals, you’ll have two rows: Completed Goals and Abandoned Goals. As you make progress throughout the year, you’ll move your goals to their respective column. And finally, you’ll also have embedded pages up top that link to your Quarterly Goals.
Your Quarterly Goals page follows nearly the same template as your Annual Goals. The biggest difference is that your Quarterly Goals template also showcases your priorities for the quarter and page links to your Monthly Goals for the respective quarter.
You also have a Quarterly Review section listed below your goals that should be completed at the end of each quarter to measure your progress and reevaluate any goals left incomplete.
The Monthly Goals page is almost identical to your Quarterly Goals page, so there’s not much else to add. It’s important that each section of your template has a similar structure so you can navigate up and down your high-level structure easily.
Weekly and Daily Goals
The Weekly Goals page is slightly different from the others because you’re setting priorities for the week to determine your daily goals.
For example, if one of your annual goals is to lose an “X” amount of weight or hit a personal record in one of your lifts, then your weekly priority might be to work out four times per week. You’ll then fill in which four days you plan to go to the gym as your daily goals.
For your habit-related goals, it’s easy to add them all in at the beginning of each week. But for those non-habit goals, it might be better to just plan a day or two in advance if your schedule is somewhat unpredictable.
At the end of each week, you’ll review what got done and what didn’t. For those goals left unchecked, you’ll want to determine why. If you just had too much on your plate, then no sweat; move them out to next week. If you didn’t feel motivated to complete them, reevaluate whether that goal is something you still want to accomplish or try breaking it down into smaller steps.
The review isn’t just for reflecting on what went well and what didn’t, but also to reassess why you’re working on something. You want to figure out how you can spend more of your time on the 20% driving 80% of results. It should also not take longer than 15-20 minutes, but it’s easily some of the most high-leverage time you can spend to ensure you hit your goals.
My Goal-Setting Template
If you’re ready to get started right away, then click the link below to make a copy of the exact template I use. Once you’ve copied the template, feel free to make as many changes to it as you like.
And if building new habits play a significant role in helping you reach your goals, check out how to create a habit tracker in Notion to complement your goal-setting template.
Thanks to Matthew Vere, David Burt, Vandan Jhaveri, Ryan Williams, Angelo Belardi, and Compound Writing for reading drafts of this essay and providing thoughtful feedback.