How to Set and Measure Personal Development Goals

How to Measure Your Personal Growth Goals

How to Set and Measure Personal Development Goals

What is it that would make you feel you’ve achieved success in life? Would it be financial independence, a happy family, spiritual enlightenment, or a lifetime of service to others?

No matter what would make you happiest, the journey is just as important as the destination. And the journey is best accomplished by setting achievable goals along the way.

In order to get where you want to be, you should actively check in on your personal growth goals to ensure you’re actually making progress and staying on track.

Knowing how to measure your personal growth can not only help prevent you from feeling discouraged about not achieving your goals immediately but also help you recognize and reward your progress in order to motivate yourself.

You are fully capable of creating the life you crave to live. And a key step in that process is measuring your progress toward your personal growth goals.

Start achieving your biggest goals!
Download my free SMART Goals Checklist

Why You Need to Set Personal Growth Goals

Setting goals helps you determine what you want in life. If you know where you want to be headed, you’re in control of your life more than letting it control you.

Setting and measuring goals is essential for your personal progress. It not only gives you focus, but it also motivates you and helps you defeat procrastination.

Goals come in all forms, but the best way to make a change in your life or the world around you is to have SMART goals.

Remember, SMART Goals are:

  • Specific: Clear and concise instead of generalized or ambiguous
  • Measurable: Able to be tracked so you can determine if you’re making progress
  • Achievable: Challenging yet able to be accomplished so you don’t get discouraged
  • Relevant: Aligned with your overall plans and other goals in life
  • Timely: Attached to a finish time that’s realistic yet challenging

You’ll also discover that when you set personal growth goals, the compounding effect takes over. Hitting one goal opens the door to the next and the next and so on.

Therefore, your life is about progress, which inevitably brings you satisfaction and happiness.

5 Steps to Measure Your Personal Growth

Once you’ve clearly set your personal goals, you’ll need to track and measure your progress. The following five steps have helped me measure my personal growth and will give you the best possible chance of achieving everything you’re striving for.

Step 1: Set a Timeline for Yourself

To ensure your SMART goals are timely, set an end date for when you want to cross the finish line and achieve your goal.

Some of your goals may have built-in timelines. You might want to learn 50 key phrases in Spanish before going on your vacation to South America. Or you may want to save a certain amount of money for your child’s college education by the time they graduate from high school.

The proper timeline for other goals will be entirely up to you. For instance, you might want to write your first book before the end of the year or earn a seven-figure income by your 40th birthday.

The best timelines for your personal growth goals have a date that’s ambitious, but achievable. You’ll stay motivated if you challenge yourself, but don’t be too ambitious or you’ll run the risk of not achieving your goal and feeling defeated.

Start out by estimating how long it will take you to achieve your goal if everything goes 100% as planned. Then, write down a specific end date.

Next, ask yourself if you’ll ly need extra time or not, considering roadblocks that may come up. Or, do you want to push yourself even faster than a comfortable pace?

Once you settle on an end date, you’ll be able to create a timeline for what you will need to do each day, week, month, or year in order to achieve your goal on time.

Step 2: Reach for Milestones Along the Way

The timeline you’ve created will help you identify the milestones you’ll need to hit in order to achieve your goal.

If your goal is to read 24 self-improvement books this year, your milestones could include finishing a book every two weeks. It may also help you to figure out how many pages or chapters you should read each day.

Checking your milestones off will help motivate you to continue progressing forward. Milestones can also help you see if your timeline is too ambitious and needs to be altered to be more realistic yet still challenging.

These milestones will also help you look back and reflect on the ups and downs of your journey as you actively practice how to measure your personal growth.

Step 3: Track Your Progress

The next step in knowing how to measure progress on your goals is determining how to track them.

Many tools are available to you, so choose the one that you’re most comfortable with. Some people to organize and track their goals in programs Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, for example.

Others prefer to utilize a project management tool, such as Asana, that is made specifically for tracking goals, setting up to-do lists, and monitoring progress.

You may also consider using a goal-setting app, Goals Wizard, which has a companion website for tracking on your computer as well as your phone.

If any of those options do not seem right for you, though, a simple method of tracking your progress with pen and paper or a journal works perfectly.

Whatever method you choose, the important part is that you have your goals in writing and are able to conveniently track them on a regular basis.  People who write down their goals and progress are internally motivated to continue forward.

A key aspect of tracking your progress is writing your goals in the present tense. When you do this, your subconscious mind registers it as a command to give you motivation towards your goal.

For example, “I weigh 150 pounds on Valentine’s Day,” helps you visualize what you will look and feel on that day, inspiring you with ideas on how to reach your goal and motivating you to make necessary changes.

It’s also important to track your emotions, thought processes, actions, and habits as well as your milestones. This can give you insight into the progress you’re making and what you may need to focus on to overcome obstacles. If progress is stagnant or moving backward, for example, it may be time to change something to kick start new growth.

Remember that learning how to manage your time wisely will catapult you toward success in reaching your goals. Learn time management tips for productivity to avoid distractions, prioritize your most important tasks each day and overcome procrastination.

Step 4: Set Specific Times to Measure Your Progress

The next key aspect of personal development measures is to check in on your progress regularly.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of setting amazing goals but then forgetting about them after an initial burst of motivation — many New Year’s goals that fall by the wayside despite good intentions.

Instead, set a specific time to check in on your progress, and then make sure you follow up. Stay consistent with how you track your progress, whether it is daily, weekly, or otherwise. Think of it as an important business meeting, and don’t miss it ever!

Reaching your goals takes consistent effort. Be sure to hone your time management and organizational skills to help you stay focused and increase your productivity so you will reach your goals.

Step 5: Be Your Biggest Motivator

The final key to knowing how to measure your personal growth is to cheer yourself on. Learn positive affirmations that will help you stay motivated and encouraged, and remind yourself of them daily.

With any venture that requires change, difficulties will inevitably arise — even setbacks. But this is all part of the natural process.

Never beat yourself up if you fall behind or miss a benchmark. Instead, see it as a learning experience that can help propel you to further progress.

​​The key to measuring your growth is to be aware of it, accept it and make changes to fix it. Therefore, it’s necessary to be honest with yourself instead of making excuses or ignoring obstacles.

Be adaptable and flexible with how things change throughout your personal growth process while holding yourself accountable and moving forward.

Tips to Hold Yourself Accountable

When you have a system set in place to help you stay accountable to your goals, you’re more ly to achieve them. This often means involving someone else in your journey toward personal progress and celebrating your achievements. Consider our top three tips for holding yourself accountable in your goal setting:

  • Find accountability partners or join a mastermind group to share your goal with so that they can help you stay on track by motivating you to reach your milestones and celebrating with you as you accomplish them.
  • Set rewards for achieving milestones, such as a day off, a special outing with your family, or a new book to read—whatever will help motivate you personally to achieve the steps toward your goal.
  • Share your progress on social media or with your friends and family to help you stay accountable by publicly recording or sharing with those important to you how you’re progressing toward your milestones.

Set Your Next Personal Growth Goal

Creating your best life starts with identifying what you most want life, setting SMART goals to get you there, and then applying the principles of how to measure your personal growth.

Once you’ve achieved your goal, there is always a new one waiting to discover. As you measure your progress on any goal, you’ll be able to see where you got stuck and where you excelled. Then you can use that to learn and succeed as you start thinking about your next goal.

For a quick and easy way to get started on setting your next personal growth goals, download our SMART Goals template and put yourself on the fast track to success in both your personal and professional life.

About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today.

He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement.

Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on , , , Pinterest, Linkedin and .


How to Measure a Goal (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

How to Set and Measure Personal Development Goals

Last Updated on November 4, 2021

Right now, you could eat a donut, book a trip to Tahiti, and tell your boss to buzz off. However, you don’t do these things because at some level, you understand the value of self-control and delayed gratification.

Delayed gratification means saying “no” to something you want in the moment in exchange for a greater benefit or reward later. It involves putting off pleasure, especially when indulging in that pleasure would have adverse consequences down the road.

But how do experts define “delayed gratification,” and more importantly, how can you use it to improve your self-control and become more productive?

What Is Delayed Gratification?

Encyclopedia Britannica defines “delay of gratification” as:

“the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future.”

Let’s break that definition into two parts. First, delayed gratification requires us to resist an immediate urge. Second, it is moderated by beliefs and so requires that we have reason to believe we’ll gain something if we do.

Situations that fulfill only a single part of that definition do not call for delayed gratification. There’s no reason to resist the impulse to run from an angry tiger, nor is there reason to put off a momentary pleasure that’s adaptive or healthy, such as laughing at a friend’s funny story.

The concept of delayed gratification is best known in association with psychologist Walter Mischel’s marshmallow test.

In the 1960s, a Stanford psychologist named Walter Mischel set up an experiment. He placed a marshmallow in front of children between the ages of 3 and 5 before he left the room.

Although they could eat the treat at any time, Mischel’s team told the children they’d earn even more treats if they waited to eat the marshmallow until the researchers returned.

What did Mischel discover?

The young children who showed a tendency to delay gratification and wait longer to eat the marshmallow fared better in life. Compared to the kids who ate it right away, they earned better grades in schools, were more ly to go to college, enjoyed greater self-confidence, and were less ly to struggle with drug problems later in life.

You can learn more about that landmark experiments Mischel’s team did in this TED Talk with Joachim De Posada:

That’s the power of delayed gratification, but it’s not just important for children. Adults who practice delayed gratification are better able to achieve what they want in life.

Examples of Delayed Gratification

In both personal and professional life, delayed gratification is a smart strategy.

Say you’re starting a business. You know it’s going to be a lot of work, and you have a limited budget. You could hire the best talent now, get the best technology, and rent a sleek office to work . Or you could start small, use your existing computer, and set up shop in your basement until you’re bringing in enough revenue to cover office rent.

You’ll be less stressed if you spend the money upfront. On the other hand, you know you’ll need that money for product development. By practicing delayed gratification, you put yourself in a better position for the future.

However, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to benefit from delayed gratification. For instance, picture what you’ll eat for lunch this afternoon: You could go out to your favorite fast-food restaurant, or you could eat that salad you packed for lunch.

Yes, fast food is inexpensive, and yes, you could always eat your salad another day. But dining out adds up, and your salad won’t be as fresh if you wait to eat it tomorrow. You also know that you’ll feel better this afternoon if you eat vegetables rather than a burger and fries.

The most important step in delayed gratification is thinking through the consequences of your choices. Learn to control your impulses, and you’ll be not just healthier and happier, but more productive.

Why Delayed Gratification Is Essential

The ability to delay gratification reveals emotional intelligence, and this can take you a long way in life. As the old quote goes,

“The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.”

Genuine, lasting success and satisfaction only come as a result of putting in the right kind of work first.

It’s easy enough to dream up what you want your life to look and feel , but it’s entirely different to create a mental framework and then execute when and where you need to.

Benefits of Delayed Gratification

Without question, it’s amazing to get something you want immediately. But if this is the case, why should you still practice delayed gratification? Here’s a look at its benefits.

It can make you achieve your health goals

One of the best ways you can improve your health is through practicing proper nutrition. However, this can’t be achieved in just a day. You need to practice delayed gratification to keep yourself from getting delicious yet unhealthy treats all the time so your body can feel better in the long run.

It will enable you to acquire new skills

Delaying satisfaction is no easy feat. In the process, you’ll feel dissatisfied, and even jealous of other people. However, most skills cannot be learned in a short span of time. When you practice delayed gratification instead of giving up, you can master more skills that will help you in your professional and personal life.

It sets you up for financial security

What is your ultimate financial goal? Do you want to save up for a house? Or maybe you want to build your emergency fund? Whatever it is, practicing instant gratification constantly will get you nowhere. When you constantly spend money instead of aligning your financial habits with your goals, you’ll end up with money problems.

It can help you at work

Delayed gratification is immensely helpful when it comes to your career. For instance, if you want to get promoted, you can’t possibly expect your boss to promote you or give you a raise after doing one good task. It takes months and years of delayed gratification to develop and improve your skills so you can become a good leader.

How to Master Delayed Gratification for Productivity

Delayed gratification is a great way to optimize your productivity, but before you find out ho w to do this, you first need to understand the concept of delayed gratification more.

To convince yourself to put in a little extra work now for a better outcome down the road, practice the following.

1. Know Your Goals

Without a reason to delay gratification, you’ll struggle to do it. Think through which long term goals you want to achieve and what you can do to get there. It could be:


Have you always wanted to run a marathon? If so, you’ll need to train for it. Although it’s tempting to sit on your couch and watch television, delayed gratification is what gets you to lace up your sneakers.


Nearly 90% of Millennials say they would to own their own home, but two-thirds of them will need to spend two decades saving up for it. Putting a little money away each month — despite the fact that you’d rather spend it on vacations or dinners out — is a matter of delayed gratification.


No employer is going to hand you your dream job simply because you want it; you have to work for it. Spending four years going to college, attending tedious seminars, and practicing your craft in your free time are all examples of delayed gratification.


Friendships are not formed in a minute. If you want more friends or deeper friendships, you’ll need to invest in them. Delayed gratification might lead you to take a connection out to lunch, learn more about a shared interest, or volunteer for a cause he or she cares about.


When you’re frustrated with a family member, you might be tempted to snap at him/her. How do you resist that temptation? Delayed gratification. When you love a person, you owe them your patience.


The big questions of life can only be answered with self-reflection and study. Looking deeply into yours elf or reading religious texts can be uncomfortable. The reason you do them anyway is delayed gratification: You know you’ll be happier once you build out your belief set.

2. Think Through “What If” Scenarios

Typically, the best decision becomes clear when you look down the road. One of the oldest and best tools for doing this is called a decision tree. Decision trees allow you to visualize the follow-on effects of each choice. You can see a very basic example of a decision tree below.

Say your car breaks down. Should you repair it, or should you buy a new one? In a decision tree, you might start with cost: Can you make a down payment without taking out a loan? If not, you might decide against buying a new car.

But should you go for a temporary fix, such as adding oil every week to a leaking engine, or a permanent one, replacing an engine gasket?

Delayed gratification is a good guide at both levels. You put yourself in the best position to save money by not just keeping your car, but also by opting for the less expensive solution.

3. Use Tools to Take Away Temptations

Delayed gratification is particularly important when you have a job to do. Sure, it might be more fun to scroll through than make that next sales call, but you can’t afford to waste your workday.

Technology can get in the way, but it can also keep you on task. You can actually block apps and set limits for yourself. Not only can keeping yourself from accessing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. make you more productive, but it can help you enjoy your evening social media time more.

4. Get an Accountability Partner

If you’re married, you and your partner probably share your finances. Why not leverage that partnership to make delayed gratification easier?

Start by setting ground rules. What expenses, exactly, are you worried about? Do you tend to shop for random gadgets when you’re stressed?

If so, decide when it’s appropriate to purchase gadgets and when it’s not. Agree on consequences in case you slip up, and ask your partner to hold you accountable. Perhaps you’ll make up for unnecessary purchases by not going out to eat that week.

You can find an accountability partner in almost any context. At work, you have colleagues. If you go to church, you sit next to someone who can encourage you to attend sermons.

5. Reward Yourself for Following Through

Inherent to delayed gratification is some benefit you earn by doing the hard work upfront. If you struggle with delayed gratification, you can make it easier by giving yourself a little something extra.

You don’t have to use time-consuming or monetary rewards. You could simply watch a movie, play an online game, or go on a hike.

Why Is Delayed Gratification So Hard?

When you take Mischel’s marshmallow experiment into consideration, it may seem easy to practice delayed gratification and ego control since the only reward involved is a marshmallow.

Unfortunately, this could not be mirrored in all aspects of real life. People love working towards things that are certain, and this is exactly what makes delayed gratification so challenging.

Freudian psychoanalysis suggests that people instinctively seek pleasure to avoid pain so they can satisfy their biological and physical needs. According to Sigmund Freud, this principle is the driving force behind the id, which is the most basic part of every human being. Considering this, pleasure is vital for survival.

People make thousands of decisions per day. However, it’s hard to work towards something where the promised rewards cannot be obtained in 4 weeks, 4 months, or even 40 years.

Additionally, the preferences of people are malleable. What you want to work for today may mean very little for you in a week’s time. But although no one is perfect enough to resist all the temptation of instant gratification, the ability to wait and practice impulse control to pursue a long term reward is no doubt an integral part of success.

Final Thoughts

Delayed gratification should not get in the way of self-care. By giving yourself small treats here and there, you can control yourself when it’s tempting to indulge in something you know you should not.

Mastering the ability to delay gratification is difficult, but you can do it. Use these tips to put aside temptation, which can make you happier, healthier, and more productive. And when in doubt, don’t eat the marshmallow.

Featured photo credit: Aron Visuals via


Setting Personal Goals

How to Set and Measure Personal Development Goals
See also: Self Motivation

There is a strong correlation between self-motivation, personal goals and achievement. 

In order to get properly motivated, and indeed to achieve, it helps to spend some time thinking about your personal goals and what you want to achieve in your life.

We all have an inbuilt desire to achieve.

What we want to achieve, however, is personal to us and may change through life. At school, for example, you may want to achieve good grades, then later you may want to pass your driving test or get a job.

It is important to set yourself clear goals if you wish to achieve your ambitions.

The Relationship between Motivation, Goals and Achievement

People want to know that they have achieved, or have the ability to achieve, something of value, meaning or importance.

Generally, the more people achieve, the more self-confident they become. As self-confidence rises so does the ability to achieve more.

Conversely, when people fail to achieve and meet their goals, self-esteem and confidence can suffer, affecting their motivation to achieve more.

Understanding the relationship between self-motivation, personal goal setting and achievement will help you set realistic personal goals, which in turn will allow you to achieve more in the longer term. Why not try our How Self-Motivated are You? Quiz to find out about your levels of motivation.

Personal goals can provide long-term direction and short-term motivation.

Goals help us to focus on what we want to be or where we want to go with our lives.  They can be a way of utilising knowledge, and managing time and resources, so that you can focus on making the most of your life potential.

By setting clearly defined personal goals, you can measure your achievements and keep sight of your progress; if you fail to achieve at one step you can reassess your situation and try new approaches. Keeping your life goals clearly defined and updated as your circumstances change and evolve is one of the most powerful ways to keep yourself motivated throughout life.

Life Goals

It is important to remember, when thinking about what you would to achieve in your life, that change is inevitable.

Your circumstances and priorities will change through your life. You may realise at the age of 40 that you are never going to be a concert pianist – as you had planned when you were 19. However, there will be other things that you can achieve instead, and you can still continue to improve your piano-playing and get pleasure from it.

See our page on Personal Change Management for more on coping with the inevitable changes in life.

When thinking about your lifetime goals, it is a good idea to make them challenging and exciting. Base them on your strengths but make them relevant to you and ultimately achievable.

Once you have thought about your life goals, you can start to plan how best to achieve them.  Set yourself smaller goals for the future.  In ten years I will be…  in five years I will be… etc. 

Work out plans of action with smaller and smaller sub-goals until you can arrive at an action plan that you can start working on now.

Worked Example: Breaking Down Goals

If one of your life goals is to write a book, your plan might be:

  • 5 years from now – publish my book
  • 4 years from now – finish the first draft of my book
  • 3 years from now – complete a university degree in creative writing
  • 1 year from now – develop an outline for my book
  • Next month – think about ideas and research potential story lines for my book
  • This week – read two books and research potential university courses.

Although this example is a very simplistic outline of a major life goal, it should give you an idea of how you can structure big goals and work out the sub-goals that you need to achieve along the way.

Making Your Goals SMART:

It can be useful to make your goals and sub-goals fit the SMART criteria.



Make each goal specific, so you know exactly what it is.

Take some time to clearly define your goals and sub-goals, the more detail about what your goals are and how you intend to achieve them the better.



Make each goal measurable so you know how you are progressing.

You need to be able to see how you are progressing to reaching your goals. What metrics can you use to measure your progress?



Don’t set impossible goals, make sure each goal and sub-goal is attainable.

The larger the goal the more impossible it may seem but if you split it down into simple sub-goals then you will find each step is more attainable.



Make your goals relevant.

Ensure your sub-goals are relevant to your life goals. Try not to set goals that don't ultimately help you to achieve your overall life goals.



Set time-limits or deadlines for each goal and sub-goal.

If you can set and stick to realistic deadlines then you'll avoid too much distraction or procrastination and keep yourself motivated.

Reviewing your Life Goals

As with anything in life, just setting goals is not enough.

You have to review your goals regularly, perhaps every few months, and certainly every year, to make sure that:

  • The goals are still relevant to what you want to achieve; and
  • You are on track to achieve them.

If not, you need to revise them, in line with your current situation.

Your goals need to motivate you and excite you

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had as much time as you would have d to devote to learning to play the piano; it does matter if you haven’t done anything towards it because you’re really not that bothered about it.

If your goals don’t excite you, abandon them, and develop new ones that you really want to achieve.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.


Добавить комментарий

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: