Whether you've made fresh resolutions for the new year or you're just looking for a tool that can help reinforce your existing commitments, the web is full of goal tracking apps and systems. Here are five of the best of those services, based on your nominations.
Photo by Julie Jordan Scott.
Lifetick is one of the most robust and feature-rich goal-tracking webapps we've seen. The service is full of features that make it easy to add and track multiple goals, build plans and steps for each one, and then look back on your progress over time to see how well you're doing on the way there, complete with graphs and reports that quantify your experiences. You can filter your goals based on the part of your life you want to work on, and review your progress in each individual area. Lifetick is free if you're tracking up to four goals; if you want to add more or make use of the service's journaling features, you'll have to pay $US20/month for a subscription.
The Mindbloom Life Game is not only fun, it's a great way to prioritise the things that are important to you and make concrete strides towards improving those areas of your life. We've covered Mindbloom before, and the service has grown since then to offer more suggestions, roll in more social features to help you collaborate on your goals and share your progress with friends, and even added an iPhone app to help you stay inspired and committed to your goals when you're away from your computer. The game rolls in rewards and incentives for working towards your goals, and while the goals aren't completely user-defined, they're all good improvements to make in your life. Plus, it's completely free.
Goalscape is up there with Lifetick when it comes to the number of features and reporting options it offers. The service arranges your goals in a large set of concentric "wheels", organised by type and with the relative importance of each goal indicated by how large a slice of the wheel it represents. You can easily see at all times which goals are bigger than the others, and you can separate them out by category to see how you're doing with each one. The service offers templates you can use to get started quickly, and reporting your progress is easy. You can download an AIR app for Mac OS or Windows, use the webapp to keep track of your goals, or take Goalscape on the go with its iPhone app. Goalscape is pricey though: it offers a 14-day free trial, but after that you'll need to cough up either $US114 for the AIR app (which includes 6 months of access to the webapp, after which you'll have to pay again), $US114 for a 12-month subscription to the webapp alone, or $US63 for a 6-month subscription to the webapp alone.
Milestone Planner is less oriented towards individuals looking to accomplish their personal goals as it is designed to help groups and individuals work on projects and tasks, but the tool is one of your favourites for both purposes. The drag-and-drop interface works well for organising tasks, you can easily run a report to see when items are due and what's set to finish when, as well as your overall progress towards those milestones. If you have a goal with incremental steps -- and your goals should definitely have measurable steps you can take along the way -- Milestone Planner can remind you when to check on those steps, and how far you have to go. If you're organising goals for a group, you can assign tasks and milestones to others, and get reports on how they're doing as well. The service has free "guest version", which limits you to three plans and is ad-supported, but for more plans and milestones you'll need to pay $US14/month for the Pro Version.
Joe's Goals isn't terribly robust or full of flash and flair, but it's simple, easy to use, and earns more than a few points for being simple and to the point. Add your goals and the things you want to do regularly to a calendar, and then check off whether your met or missed your goal each day. The service was built by -- predictably -- Joe, who wanted a way to easily keep track of how often he worked out, but also how frequently he slipped up and ordered takeout, so he built a webapp to help him out. Joe's Goals works just as well with "positive" goals, like things you want to do, as it does with "negative" goals, or things you want to stop doing. You'll always be able to tell at a glance how well you're progressing, and you can add more than one check for days where you went the extra mile. Simple, effective, easy and free.
Honourable mentions this week go out to 43 Things, a service we love and one of the first web services to define this category, but surprinsgly was just shy of the nominations needed to make the top five. Also worth noting is the currently-in-beta Aherk!, which blackmails you into working towards your goals by threatening to post an embarrassing photo to Facebook for you if you don't.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to plead the case for your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below.