3 Unsexy Science-Backed Secrets to Setting (and Actually Achieving) Your Goals

January 11, 2024



In a world that feels like it’s beckoning you to grow faster, work harder, and level up — while also throwing a million distractions, reasons to procrastinate, and chances to doom scroll on your phone, it’s easy to see why we struggle to find an effective habit of productivity. How do some people just seem to stay on top of task management so easily? How do people maintain motivation? What is the secret to consistent progress and setting achievable goals? Here’s the wild part: it’s not really a secret at all.

Over the last few years, I’ve been leaning into the strategies I learned from my friend Marie Forleo in a time of need (you can actually learn ALL of them from Marie for a limited time right now too!). I’m an achiever with ADHD, and so is Marie, and I needed some guidance from her because I saw a pattern in my life that I wanted to break. I found myself consistently saying, “I just don’t have enough time.” I wanted growth, progress, and results, but I felt like I was starving for time like a lack of oxygen.

Do you ever feel that way? Maybe you’re the kind of person who struggles with starting something but never finishing it. Or maybe it’s that you have a hard time tackling projects until you’re inspired or struck with a strong but fleeting wave of motivation? Or maybe you’re just avoiding the work because everything else is already taking up your precious time, much like I was feeling.

With Marie’s science-backed wisdom, one of the easy shifts I needed to make actually shocked me with how simple it was, helping me move toward my goals daily and overcoming that drive to perfectly nail it. This small, seemingly boring habit can help you develop a consistency powerful enough to help you hit those short-term and long-term goals too!

Secret One: Fast-Track Your Success

We know that creating a measurable goal, sometimes known as a SMART goal, is key for writing the definition of a truly achievable goal. Where you might be missing out on what helps you reach it is tracking your approach to that goal. As Marie says in her Time Genius course, “What you track, you fast track.”

Related: Want my honest review of Marie’s Course, Time Genius?

Dr. Benjamin Harken, University of Sheffield, studied how a group of 19,000 people set and worked toward their specific goals. They discovered that people who were prompted to monitor and record their progress were MORE likely to achieve their goals. 

The study showed that it’s not just about merely noticing your progress, but actually physically recording or writing that information down.

So, clearly define what you want your results to be, like “Learn a new language” or “Run a marathon.” But the vital step to transforming this from a goal that loses steam quickly to one that you see yourself slowly achieving is measuring your goal progress consistently.

For learning a language, that might look like tracking how many new words you want to learn every day or week. For running a marathon, that could look like tracking how many minutes you spend running per week. What you’re tracking may need to evolve as you grow toward your goal, but the secret here is entirely in the tracking. Tracking provides vital feedback to help you stay consistent and it MOTIVATES you to keep moving forward.

Secret Two: Short-Term Feedback

Seth Godin said, “The best way to change long-term behavior is with short-term feedback.” Why? Because when we track and measure our performance, we get that short-term feedback we’re all craving. Frequent feedback means more frequent opportunities to feel encouraged that we are, in fact, moving towards our goal.

And it also means that when we need to make adjustments, they’re small and more manageable. Quick refinements are way less daunting and can actually spark up motivation because they’re naturally easy. You’re drawn to accomplishing them and giving yourself the satisfaction of a task ticked off the list!

Short-term feedback isn’t just a mental acknowledgement, like “Girl, you’re killin’ it!” (I mean, yes, pep talks are always welcomed!) You’ll want to have a literal, visual habit of tracking your progress to provide feedback that motivates you consistently.

Secret Three: Aim for Progress, Not Perfection

Remember this: Tracking IS the win. Focus on what you can control: the daily action of ticking that box. Because, as Marie taught me, when habit tracking is the win, you can win everyday.

You don’t even need to download a fancy app, especially if getting out your phone tends to easily lead you to a rabbit hole and time suck. Pen and paper is ideal. Plop a notebook down by your bed and check-in with the goal your tracking before bed. Or tape a piece of paper up by where you have coffee every morning to check-in from the day before. Keep it easy so you can stay motivated.

Not everything you do needs to be tracked. Identify what goals are worth tracking. You might have a few that you’re working toward this year, but there might be a few that you already know you’re going to struggle with feeling motivated to accomplish.

If you can execute on this 80% of the time, your progress, happiness, growth, and results are going to skyrocket. If you are avoiding the goal every day, reevaluate the goal. Maybe the goal is still too ambiguous or ambitious, or perhaps your life, values, and priorities have gone through big, unexpected changes and now your goals need to change, too.

The not-so-sexy secret is to build a trusted, perhaps even sacred, habit of tracking your progress so that you stay in-tune with your journey every step of the way. You’ll celebrate your results because you’ve actually noticed them! You’ve adjusted your course when you veer a little off track (before you go WAY off track.) And you’ve given yourself that intrinsic motivation to stay consistent without having to rely on random sparks of inspiration or waves of motivation to finally (or hopefully) make it happen.

Turning these Secrets into Life-Changing Habits

Tracking your goals so that you can finally fast-track them is a vital part of the process to building a system of authentic productivity for yourself, your career, and your life. And while it’s an important, streamlining habit to build, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. A few years ago, I transformed my mindset around time (and my struggles with “never seeming to have enough of it”) through Marie Forleo’s productivity course, Time Genius, where I learned these insights and a TON of other tools and habits that I use every single day. Enrollment to Time Genius is open now (for just a limited time!)

And because this course helped me realign my life, schedule, workflow, and future goals, I partnered with Marie to give Time Genius students even more help with getting them out of that time-stress trap. When you enroll in Time Genius through my link here, I’ll send you FREE access to one of my best-selling courses, The Content Lab, my entire content creation strategy (yep, the one I use every week!) It’s a system I designed to get us off the content creation hamster wheel and make that content do the work for us! Plus, you’ll get a bonus LIVE Q&A coaching call with me and Marie to help you put these methods to work.

Become a Time Genius 

Leaving a world of time stress and becoming a Time Genius means you’re no longer settling for the old ways of always being pulled in whatever direction the most dire, urgent, or stressful tasks try to take you. No more cycles of burnout, procrastination, and feeling defeated or ‘behind in life’. You’ll learn how to overcome those time-stress traps that hold you back from your goals, your joy, the results you want to see, and having more time to live!

Marie’s program is easy to learn (I took it in just 5 days!) and it’s chock-full of actionable guides that help you apply what you learn from Marie into your life ASAP. This isn’t a course that ends up taking more time than it promises to save. In two weeks time, you’ll have a transformed time mindset that helps you lead yourself into a more joy-filled, steady-paced rhythm toward any goals you choose to aim for. Get your time back by becoming a Time Genius!

Want to master productivity, goal-setting, time management once & for all?

Join Marie Forleo’s authentic productivity course, Time Genius, & get my content creation system, The Content Lab (and more) for FREE!

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life).  One of my favorite places to be is here, sharing what I'm learning with you. I'm glad you're here!



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