18 goal journal ideas to create a life plan you love

Many of us love the idea of a goal and goal setting. Goal journal ideas can prompt both setting and achieving your desired goal so that you can increase your chances of goal success.

Wardrobe Journaling has a variety of blog posts on the subject of goals. From:

Journal your way to success by creating goal affirmations to
6 easy treatment goals for self esteem that really work to
How to use journaling to track your self improvement goals

you are sure to find something to inspire you on to success on your own terms.

Goals and the modern world

The start of a new year always heralds in a wave of new goals and promises. Most New Year’s resolutions tend to revolve around goals of one sort or another.

When we are asked about our lives we are often asked about goals we have, either personal or work oriented.

It seems like our lives revolve around this idea that goals are a great way to measure your life.

And in a way this is true. Goals keep track of how you are using your time, and we love the idea that we are efficient with our time, so if we can track our lives in terms of goals then we must be living successful lives.

A goal journal is a written record of the progress towards a desired outcome incorporating an action plan such as daily/weekly tasks, a means of tracking your goal and a log of your thoughts, feelings and mood as you undertake your goal.

Sarah Banks

Don’t measure your life on goals alone

Of course, there is the converse argument that we shouldn’t measure our lives in terms of goals. Rather we should just learn to relax into our lives and into the rhythm of life, accepting its ebbs and flows. At the same time we should learn to be at peace with ourselves and not scurry after yet another goal as a means of justifying our existence.

I think I fit somewhere between those two ideas. I love having goals in my life, but sometimes they seem overwhelming and I need to take a step back and just enjoy being me, living my life, loving my family, cooking meals and walking the dogs.

Setting Goals

You can set goals any way you want to. You don’t need permission to set a goal, or achieve it. That’s the great thing about goals. There are many books written about goal setting and there are many downloadable goal setting worksheets on the internet. The SMART objectives are a great way to set goals. But you can set entirely your own framework. In fact, the more personal you make your goals and the goal setting time plan, the better your chance of success. Your goal journal ideas for setting goals can be equally personal and there are many different ways to achieve them. You could use bullet journal spreads, excel spreadsheets to monitor progress. You can divide the goals into different categories and create a separate section in your journal for those different categories.

Creating a vision for your life

One area where I do love goal setting ideas is in creating a vision for how my life will look. You may be the same. You might love the idea of creating a vision for how you want your life to look and to setting some goals in your life to help that vision become reality.

Vision Board

Of course, you may already have a specific detailed idea of your goals but if you don’t I really recommend a vision board as a starting point for creating an overall vision of your life.

Once you have a clearer idea of the vision for your life you can start journaling around that vision.

Here are 18 goal journal ideas that can help you to create your life vision and bring it to life plus a table of contents so you can navigate straight to the content that interests you the most.

Table of Contents

    18 goal journal ideas to help you create a life plan you love

    These 18 goal journal ideas cover different aspects of creating a life plan. The list incorporates journal type ideas, for example a personal goal journal that you can create. The list also incorporates techniques to use, for example using a habit tracker or creating a goal tracking page.

    Between these different ideas you should have a comprehensive way to create your personal life plan.

    If you would like to read more about setting up your journal, and yourself, for success then try these blog posts:

    How to inspire your life: 18 Journal notebook ideas

    How to organize a journal for the life you want

    How to create a printable manifestation journal

    1 Personal goals

    What are your goals for this year? Or for the next quarter? Or do you have long-term goals over longer period of time? You may think of goals in terms of work or business but personal goals are really important. What would you like to achieve? How would you like to grow as a person? What would you like to learn for yourself? For example we have a blog post on how to use self discovery journal prompts to create your unique style. Maybe set yourself 5 or 6 different goals ideas and regularly come back to those ideas in your journal so that you keep track of them over time.

    2 Work / career goals

    These goal journal ideas are big goals. They affect how you are going to live your life.

    Because they are big you are going to spend longer on them than you would a shorter goal, for example losing weight or running a marathon.

    So, seeing as this is one of your long term goals, you need to work out the best way for you to keep track and keep going in the right direction.

    Ideas for a work goal journal could be: What is the big goal journal that you want? How long do you think it will take and how are you going to keep track. How you feel about this goal. Does it feel achievable or daunting What steps do you need to take to get packed and ready

    3 Daily goals, Monthly goals, Quarterly goals, Yearly goals

    Goals are timebound. A goal has a start date and an end date. Dreams don’t have dates. So if you want to know whether your ‘life plan’ is a plan or a dream, look at whether there you have given times to them. Saying the ‘end of the year’ is not really a timely goal. You need to be really specific: “By 31 December I will have achieved …….” Your daily and monthly goals are the smaller steps of your yearly goals broken down into manageable portions. For good goal setting you may want to set SMART objectives. (See below for more on SMART goals.)

    You don’t need to set SMART objectives to set your own objectives. Create your own! A daily goal can be something as small as “Do 10 minutes yoga”, or “Walk the dogs morning at 7am and evening at 6pm” or “make 10 phone calls today by midday”.

    Use your journal to track your progress and write about how you are feeling: what you are finding easy; what you are finding difficult.

    4 Action plan / Goal Tracker

    To many people there is nothing more motivating than an action plan. Action plans help keep you on the right track. They are your battle plan for every day life. Your action plan tracks the simple steps you need to take to achieve your goal. When you have decided on your goal, the first thing to do is to list out all the small steps you need to take to achieve that goal. When you order those smaller parts into a time frame and give them a date on which you need to start working on them and a date by which they are finished, then you have your action plan.

    You can then use your goal tracker to monitor the progress of your action plan. There are many goal tracker templates available online and I recommend you find one that you love and then build your own from that template. The more personal you make your goals, the greater chance you have of achieving them.

    5 Habit tracker

    When I did life coaching a few years back I was introduced to the idea of the ‘urge jar’. It is a way of helping you change a habit and stop doing something that you no longer want in your life.

    The urge jar is a large glass jar. Each time you get the urge to do something that you have decided not to do and you don’t do it, you put a marble in the jar.

    The idea is that once you have resisted the urge around 100 times you will no longer want to do that habit. Or rather, once you have allowed that urge to pass through you and feel the emotion of it and just allow it rather than act on it, then you put a marble in the jar. The urge jar is a habit tracker. A great one. Shout out to Brooke Castillo at the Life Coach School.

    Habit trackers come in different shapes and sizes to marbles and jars!

    Habit trackers come in various formats, and you can choose the one that best suits your preferences and needs. Here are some examples of different kinds of habit trackers:

    Classic Monthly Grid: Create a grid with habits listed on the left and dates on the top. Each day, mark an “X” or colour in a box to indicate whether you completed the habit on that particular day.

    Habit Tracker with Weekly Goals: Design a page with a weekly layout, where you set goals for each habit for the week. Use checkboxes or circles to track your daily progress.

    Habit Tracker with Colour Coding: Assign different colours to habits or habit categories. Use these colours to fill in the corresponding cells or boxes each day, creating a visually appealing and organized habit tracker.

    Circular Habit Tracker: Draw a circle divided into sections like a pie chart. Each habit will have its slice, and you can fill in the portions based on how much you accomplished each day.

    Habit Tracker with Reward System: Incorporate a reward system into your habit tracker. For example, if you complete a habit for a certain number of days, you treat yourself to something special.

    Habit Tracker with Grading: Assign a grading system (e.g., A, B, C) to each habit based on your performance each day. This adds a sense of achievement and competition with yourself.

    Habit Tracker with Stickers or Symbols: Use stickers or simple symbols to represent each habit. It adds a fun element to your tracking, and you can get creative with different stickers for each habit.

    Minimalist Habit Tracker: Keep it simple by using a plain list format with checkboxes to track your habits. This minimalist approach works well for those who prefer a clean and straightforward design.

    Habit Tracker in Bullet Journal Style: If you use a bullet journal, incorporate your habit tracker into your daily or weekly spreads alongside your other journal entries and tasks.

    Habit Tracker App: Consider using a habit tracking app on your phone or tablet. Many apps offer various customization options and provide reminders to help you stay on track.

    Habit Tracker with Habit Streaks: Add a section to track your habit streaks—the number of consecutive days you’ve completed a habit. This can motivate you to maintain the streak and avoid breaking the chain.

    Habit Tracker with Notes: Reserve space for notes or comments to jot down observations, reflections, or reasons for not completing a habit on a particular day.

    Monthly Habit Wheel: Create a circular habit tracker resembling a clock or compass, with each habit allocated a specific position on the wheel.

    Habit Tracker with Graphs: Use a graph or line chart to visualize your habit progress over time. It can be motivating to see trends and improvements.

    Be as specific as possible when you are creating your habit tracker. Make sure it relates to specific goals. The more specific you are the greater chance of success with that habit.

    6 Smart goals

    I love time bound goals. A good goal, well set, is a powerful tool in your ability to achieve your dreams. And having a time limit can be very motivating. You can set SMART parameters for your time bound goals.

    SMART objectives are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. For more on SMART objectives read this post. Create repeatable sections in your journal that monitor the 5 different aspects of a smart goal. Journal on each of them. The more you interact with your goal, the higher the chance of you achieving it. If you spend 15 minutes each evening writing about your goals, what went right, what didn’t go so well, you are grappling with the challenge of the goal. The more you grapple, work out problems, create solutions, the greater the chances of your success

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    7 Goals pages

    In your journal, at the beginning of a project, you can outline your goals as a first step. In this section write about why you want to achieve this goal, how the inspiration for it came about and what it will mean to you when you achieve it. You can include images, or quotes, or any other inspirational thoughts in this section. Return to these pages and regularly reread them as you are progressing with your goals. Goals are challenging, that is the nature of them. But by returning to your goals pages, which are your ‘why’ in paper form, you will have enough motivation to continue with your goal.

    8 New year’s resolutions

    January 1st is the blank page of the calendar year. Everything lies ahead, everything is possible, expectations are high and dreams have not been challenged or thwarted. No wonder we set new year’s resolutions! They hold all the promise and none of the disappointment. My advice with new year’s resolutions is to write down what you think you would like your new year’s resolution (NYR) to be. Then, create a new year’s resolution page in your journal to write them out. NYRs are often an indication of your personal growth. You have areas of your life that you would like to improve and you think, “next year I will do such and such”. The problem of course is that while your NYR is a good idea, it doesn’t have any plan around it to make it a reality.

    So, if you want to proceed with your NYR, then create your page of beautiful ideas to live out your dream life. And then use the journal to create achievable goals and keep track of your progress.

    9 Bucket Lists

    Many people love the idea of creating a list of things you’d like to do, places you’d like to see, events you’d like to experience. And equally, the idea of pitting your actions against a diminishing time hour glass also seems to be very popular.

    The ’20 before 20′ and ’50 before 50′ are also very popular. They can really focus your mind on what you would like to do, see or experience before the next significant milestone in your life.

    I also read somewhere about writing down all your bucket list items and seeing if you could do them all in two years. Or could you do them all in six months? A kind of ‘Speed bucket list challenge’. Why spread it out over twenty years if you can go and do fun things now?!! I quite like that idea.

    10 Daily tasks

    Away from the go-getting goal setting side of your goal journal, journaling around your daily tasks can be really therapeutic for your mental health and relaxing for your brain.

    Journal about your day, about your work, about lunch. Write about how you feel about your day, what the weather was like, who you spoke to. Connect in with your feelings and journal about how you feel about your surroundings, your daily life.

    Your goal may simply be to keep track of your day and to use your journal to record your daily life experience. And that’s a great thing.

    11 Smaller goals

    Smaller goals are as beautiful as big goals and can potentially make an equal impact on your life. What little thing would you like to achieve? Would you like to learn one piece of vocab every day, get out in the garden each day, contact a friend each day, finally keep to date night once a week. Small goals often address an aspect of your life that you might be neglecting, want to give attention to, but feel you don’t have the time. In that way they are powerful indicators of how you would like to live your life. Make space for them in your journal. Even if you just write out a list of smaller goals you’d like to achieve and then gradually address each one, at least you have made a list of goals and are now able to track them.

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    12 Goal trackers

    By now you are probably getting the message that the more you keep track of your goals, the greater your chances of success. And of course a goal setting journal is dedicated to exactly that.

    Setting a goal is one aspect of achieving your goal, but monitoring that goal, using a goal tracker, will help to ensure your success. A goal tracker is a great tool and you can create your own in your journal. You just need the what (what is your goal), the how (how you are going to achieve this goal).

    Your tracker monitors your progress to your goal, so the how is a major part in this. Write down your how and then track your progress, whether you are achieving it or whether you need to catch up, or whether you are ahead.

    If you’ve already read the section on habit trackers above and are wondering what the difference is between a goal tracker and a habit tracker, then think of it like this: a goal tracker tracks outcomes and a habit tracker tracks behaviour and actions.

    13 Bullet journal

    A bullet journal goals page is a great way to journal yourself to goal success.

    Using your bullet journal as part of your goal journal can be a powerful way to integrate goal setting, tracking, and reflection into your daily life. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to incorporate your goals into your bullet journal:

    Start with a Goal Setting Page: Create a dedicated page in the beginning of your bullet journal for your long-term goals. Write down your major life aspirations, career objectives, personal growth targets, travel plans, or any other areas you want to focus on.

    Break Down Goals into Smaller Tasks: For each long-term goal, create subsequent pages where you break them down into smaller, actionable tasks. Use bullet points or lists to outline the steps you need to take to achieve each goal.

    Create Monthly Goal Spreads: At the start of each month, set specific goals you want to achieve within that month. Design a monthly spread with these goals and leave space for tracking your progress and reflections.

    Design Habit Trackers: Integrate habit trackers into your weekly or monthly layouts. Identify habits that are crucial for achieving your goals and track your consistency in practicing them.

    Use Goal-Specific Collections: Create separate collections or sections for each major goal. These could include research, brainstorming, progress updates, and any other information relevant to that particular goal.

    Reflect Regularly: Dedicate time in your bullet journal to reflect on your progress, successes, challenges, and any adjustments you might need to make. Regularly reviewing your goals and progress keeps you accountable and motivated.

    Visualize Your Progress: Use charts, graphs, or other visual representations to track your progress over time. Visualizing your achievements can be a great source of motivation.

    Include Gratitude and Affirmations: Incorporate pages for expressing gratitude and writing positive affirmations related to your goals. Cultivating a positive mindset enhances your motivation and belief in achieving your goals.

    Record Milestones and Celebrate: When you reach milestones or accomplish significant tasks related to your goals, record them in your bullet journal. Celebrate your successes to reinforce your sense of achievement.

    Stay Flexible: Your bullet journal allows you to be flexible with your goal journaling. If a goal needs adjustment or you discover a new aspiration, you can easily adapt your bullet journal to accommodate these changes.

    Keep Inspiration Handy: Add inspiring quotes, images, or stories that resonate with your goals throughout your bullet journal. These serve as constant reminders of your vision and can help you stay focused during challenging times.

    Set Up Timelines: Use timelines or progress bars to visualize the time-bound nature of your goals. This can help you stay on track and manage your time effectively.

    By integrating goal journaling into your bullet journal, you create a comprehensive system that combines planning, tracking, and reflection. This approach helps you stay organized, accountable, and motivated on your journey to achieve the life plan you love. Remember, your bullet journal is a personal and creative space, so feel free to customize it in a way that best supports your unique goals and aspirations.

    14 Brain dump

    Before starting any project and setting goals, why not do a big brain dump at the start of your journal. Get out on paper: all your ideas for your goals, what would you like to achieve, what goals would you like to see ticked off your bucket list this year? What don’t you want to do? What does your ideal life look like, both in the short term and in the long term? How do you want to live each day? Do you want to work full time or part time? How do you want your family life to be like? How do you want your personal relationship to loo like? The more you can get out on paper the easier it will be to set goals that really mean something to you.

    15 Bullet journaling: Daily spreads / weekly spread / Monthly spreads

    Use your goal tracker to divide up the information into daily spreads and monthly spreads. Then you can monitor your progress over specific periods of time. Plus by grouping your actions in this way you can see what kind of progress you can make and thereby track the rest of your goal. You may have set a goal too strictly and it’s just impossible to achieve in the time you have given it. Conversely you may have set a goal that is too easy and you can easily achieve it within the timeframe you have set yourself. Either way, your daily and monthly spreads will be showing you this information and you can adjust your goal setting accordingly.

    16 Weekly goals

    Setting a goal for the week is a great period of time to focus on your objectives. You may want to do a spurt of activity in one area of your goal, and setting a weekly sprint activity can be a way of boosting your results.

    17 Goal categories

    If you have many goals then separate them out into goal categories. Or you may have one big goal which can be broken down into goal categories.

    18 Mind map

    Use a mind map to get all your ideas out into your goal journal. Link related ideas. Sometimes we don’t know what we are thinking. Sometimes we have so many ideas it can be overwhelming and just getting them out on paper can be a good thing.

    There has been a lot of information in this blog post so hopefully you don’t feel too overwhelmed. Goal setting and creating a goal journal is a progressive process. Start where you are. Incorporate one or two ideas from the above list. See how they work for you and make them your own. Then add another item, or remove one that doesn’t work for you.

    Goals work when they work for you.

    Don’t keep working at a goal idea when it isn’t working for you. You could use the list above like a giant ‘Does this suit me’ list. Work through the different items and see whether you like them or not. If they don’t suit you or bring you closer to your goal, then don’t feel obliged to continue with them.

    Other blog posts you might like

    How to create your own Manifestation journal template
    9 easy quick start tips to creating a journal for self improvement
    What is a growth mindset journal?

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