A Creative Visual for Reaching Your Goals in 2014

Reach Goals

I’ve taken many webinars and read even more blog posts about setting and reaching goals, and various progress record-keeping methods. What I’m doing this year I’ve never seen anywhere before.

Two things contributed to this idea: Working on a business plan for 2014 and watching a set of videos by Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) about book publishing. One thing Jack said was worth the hours I spent watching those videos, “To get your book published you need to take five actionable steps a day.” That advice can apply to any goal a person has, whether publishing a book or learning to play an instrument. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, you just need to move forward.

When I heard that I remembered that my business plan included five areas to work this year. To apply Jack’s advice, I could work on one thing in each area every day and get somewhere — hopefully where I wanted to be. Or, I could do five things for one area for a week and then move to the next area the next week, and so on. In a five-week period, I would cover the entire plan and then start over.

How I work through it doesn’t matter, at this point. What matters is how I am going to keep this plan in front of my face.

Thinking Through Productivity Systems

Some folks recommend the whiteboard. I love whiteboards but mine always gets erased. Doesn’t matter how hard I try to protect it, a child will decide to draw me a picture, a teenager will brush up against it reaching for something, or I might need that space to write something else.

I could just write it down on paper and tack it to the bulletin board. Then I find a killer quote and write it down and tack that to the bulletin board. Then a little boy drawing gets tacked to the bulletin board, and the next thing you know, the business plan gets buried under other things.

Don’t even think there is a prominent place on my desk for this piece of paper. Creatives are messy.

I could get with the times and put my business plan in Evernote or some other software designed for saving things. Problem is, I have to remember to open those programs and check my to-do list, goals list, and business plan.

I’m middle-aged. I don’t remember like I used to.

Even if I pasted my plan in the back of a paper planner, I’d have to remember the planner existed, and then I’d have to remember where I set the planner (probably under a pile on my desk) before I could check it for the daily “five actionable steps.”

My Creative Visual for Reaching Goals

No. I needed to put my plan somewhere where it would be in my face every single day without getting buried, erased, or forgotten. That is when it hit me . . . my desktop. My virtual desktop. This is what I did.

I drew a diagram on a piece of paper with five sections.

goal worksheet

At the top of each section, I wrote a label to define a category for my business plan.

goal worksheet with headings

This worksheet is for example purposes only.

I then filled in what I want to do in 2014 for each area of my plan.

goal worksheet filled in

This worksheet is for example purposes only. This does not reflect my goals for the year.

Next, I scanned that paper into the computer and set it as my desktop wallpaper. Now, every time I open my laptop, there is my business plan right in front of my face. Easy-peasy.

goal worksheet on desktop

What are you doing to organize your 2014 goals? Do you need paper and pencil or are you a virtual tool kind of person? Leave a comment!

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  1. Marie-Antoinette

    I use a cork board and post visuals to that
    I walk by it many times a day and it triggers my goals
    and shows me my progress.

    Like you, I have different areas that I am working on,

    Right now they are quite bear, but little by little it becomes beautiful with many interesting posts.

    Computers do not work for me, because I am poor at the application side of things

    • Carol J Alexander

      Glad you have something that works for you, Marie. That is what counts. 🙂

  2. Gui


    Great idea! I tried that before, but I didn’t want people at work seeing my goals haha. What I will be doing now is hanging it in front of my bedroom wall, so that I wake up EVERY day and remember what I need to do and keep focus.

    Good idea though!


    • Carol J Alexander

      Good for you, Gui. I used to write things on the mirror, too. Use a dry erase marker and you can erase it.

  3. Caroline

    Fabulous idea, Carol. I’m going to use this myself. Thanks!

    • Carol J Alexander

      Glad to help, Caroline. I hope you find it as helpful as I have.

  4. Charles Young

    I use Evernote for this sort of thing – it is my brain, as mine is starting to get a little leaky now and then for even important things!

    • Carol J Alexander

      I love Everynote, Charles. I just have trouble remembering to open it on a daily basis. :/

  5. Sheryl DeChaume

    I love anything simple but effective and this suggestion works.

  6. Sandi

    This is great! I can relate well to mostly your “piles” reasoning.. My middle-aged mind doesn’t like to make a goals list because…well…I just don’t refer back to them. This is something that could actually work! I will give a try. Why didn’t I think of this? 🙂

    • Carol J Alexander

      Sometimes, Sandi, we need to talk through things with others to get inspired. Maybe this is one of those times. 🙂

  7. Kristine

    I love this idea!

  8. Justin Clark

    I love this idea of placing goals on the desktop. I currently use two whiteboards, cork board, poster board, and a daily to do list for goal setting. The problem I have is once a goal or task is accomplished, another task is assigned and takes its spot without any relief or celebration! If a task was to rotate the car tires or clean the kitchen, once the task was accomplished on time or earlier than expected, another task is added to its list. It is a revolving door of pressure. The rewarding part I can only see is when I’m throwing out numerous counts of checked off “To do stuff” forms. Thanks again for the great idea. let me know how you celebrate your small accomplishments?

    • Carol J Alexander

      Not exactly how I celebrate accomplishments, but how I avoid feeling defeated is in my next post, Justin. And I’ll give you a hint. Throw away the “To Do” list. 🙂

  9. Karen Lange

    This is a great idea, Carol! Like you, I lose sight of things – literally- that aren’t right out in front of me. Going to have to give this a try. Thanks for the tip!

  10. Anthony

    Great idea! I am going to try it.

  11. Daniel Rodriguez

    Writing down ideas works for me. Everyone is different and responds differently to certain stimuli. Since I love to physically write with pencil/paper format, I keep a business journal and it also has my financial reports for my business. It also keeps me updated with what happened last year. I can store it for future use to gain perspectives and look back if I need any contact information or want to remember something special.

    • Carol J Alexander

      Great tips, Daniel. I like paper planners for the same reasons. But for something like this, I just wanted a way it was always in front of my face.

  12. Verona

    Also MS OneNote is a good program to use. This year I am going to get organized with daily tasks as my New Year’s resolution for success. Thanks for the article! 🙂

    • Carol J Alexander

      I used to use OneNote, Verona, and loved it. But when I got a new computer, I didn’t want to pay for it. Evernote is very similar.

  13. Vicky Xu

    One of my goals for this year is to take the 52 Week Challenge for my savings. To keep me motivated, I put in a list of how much shoudl I saved every week and the estimated amount I could attain at the end of the year in excel file. 😉

  14. M Harrell

    What a great idea!! I am visual by nature so this will keep what’s really important “in my face”!

    Thank you!

  15. RoseAnne

    What a great idea. Currently I have the link for my 2014 Goals doc in the middle of my computer “desktop”, but having it visually open in front of me would be great. The problem is that my computer resembles the rest of my organization (which sounds an awful lot like yours) and I rarely shut down, just close the lid and hibernate, so I rarely see the desktop. 🙂

    • Carol J Alexander

      Ah-ha, you caught me, RoseAnne. I tend to do the same thing. But, before I hibernate, I will minimize all the things I have open so the desktop is visible again when I open up.

  16. Marie @ 4HWD

    Thanks for these great tips! Usually I don’t write my goals but after reading your post surely I will find time to write down my visual goals.

    • Carol J Alexander

      If I don’t write down my goals, Marie, I will a) forget them, b) not work toward them, or c) justify not reaching them with they didn’t exist in the first place. 😉

  17. Kalen

    This is great! I think I am going to use a very similar outline for my blogging goals. I just created my 2014 goals yesterday. I especially love the idea of setting it as my desktop background. That way it will be the first thing I see everyday!

    • Carol J Alexander

      You cannot lose it, either, Kalen. Which I will do whether it’s a printed sheet of paper or a computer document.

  18. Darius

    I keep a checklist or a “to do list” on a physical clipboard – on a real piece of paper.
    I also have a “to do” list on my ipod that I’m in the habit of checking all the time just to make sure I don’t forget something.
    I love the idea of putting that big overall plan on my computer desktop. Instead of wasting time when I’m overwhelmed with what to do next, I can pick anything on my desktop and take one action step on anything on that sheet and know that I’m on the right track.

    • Carol J Alexander

      Stay tuned, Darius. My next post is why I don’t like ‘To Do’ lists. It is liberating.

  19. Jenny

    Love this! Thanks for sharing.