We all have vices, even though we may not all admit that we have them. Some people smoke, other people go shopping too much, and still others sit in front of their laptop every night eating a full bag of nacho chips while writing articles. A very cool website called Joes Goals, which Israel touched on briefly in 5 Fun Personal Web Apps to REALLY Track Your Life, helps people track their daily goals and achieve the dreams they strive for.
However, a very cool alternative benefit of the Joe’s Goals method is that it also helps people change bad habits. It may seem silly to think that just by using some free website, you can put an end to that huge habit that makes you feel horrible about yourself. But, in this article, you’ll learn how you can use the free Joe’s Goals web application to put an end to those nasty vices you’ve been meaning to put a stop to for years.
How to Change Bad Habits With Joes Goals
MakeUseOf often covers sites that help you achieve goals, such as GetGoaling, StickK, or GoalsOnTrack, but the cool thing about Joes Goals is that it was created by a regular guy who simply wanted to organize his life, stay on task toward his goals, and change bad habits. A personal project turned into a web application that he now offers to the public for absolutely free (or you can pay to remove the non-intrusive ads). The moment you sign up and log in, you’re immediately ready to start adding your goals and marking them as positive (ones you want to do every day), or negative (bad habits).
As you add each goal, it gets piled onto your list of weekly goals, with a box for each day of the week. Today’s day is automatically highlighted, your goals are all weighted by points, and your total statistics are calculated for the entire week. Every day that you either accomplish that goal, or you give into your vice, you just click the screen on that day and a check mark appears and you get points (or lose points). Keeping track of your progress every day takes less than a minute.
The score is even tallied per day, so you can see whether a certain day of the week is your sore spot, and plan accordingly. You can also mark certain goals as more important to you than others by assigning that goal as worth a higher score, or the bad habit as one that you particularly want to eradicate from your life.
Stop Bad Habits by Tracking Your Progress
Psychologists agree that what most often helps people put an end to bad habits is when they are forced to become accountable for those actions. Unfortunately, for some people that means getting very sick from smoking, or hitting a pedestrian because they were speeding. Joe’s Goals offers a way for you to announce to yourself, and to the world, that you are finally owning up to those bad habits, and you’ve decided to make positive changes in your life and stick to them. You can even share your progress on MySpace, blogs and other websites (see the bottom of this article). In order to track your progress, you can run several charts based on whatever date range you like.
The account summary just provides a spreadsheet list of all of your goals and the total checks and scores for that date range. The logbook summary lists a log of all of your notes from your daily logbook (see below). The goal calendar shows you a graphical display of how many daily check marks you achieved for a particular goal. The “CSV Backup” option lets you save your reports to a CSV file that you can open with any spreadsheet software that can read comma-delimited files. Now, I don’t know if it’s the engineer in me, but my favorite report, by far, is the “score calendar,” which provides you with a very cool graphical representation of your daily totals.
This display really makes you realize whether you’re going uphill or downhill, in a big way. The goal of this particular “game” is to reduce the red and increase the green. It can be difficult to change bad habits, but having that chart right in your face every week is enough to give you a real wake-up call. The time to change those bad habits is right now, and this software lets you assign some real values to those goals so that you can be accountable to yourself.
Announce Your Progress to Friends and Family
Best of all, there’s a social networking feature (which I find very cool), that lets you integrate a display of your progress into any website, blog, or social network that you like. You won’t only be accountable to yourself, but you’ll be accountable to all of your friends and family who care about you and your health. All you have to do is click on the link under “Your Badge,” highlight and then copy the widget script in the text box.
Inserting the code into Facebook, I’ve added the widget to my Facebook wall as you can see above. Now, every time you fail or succeed, you can be sure that friends and family will be there to cheer you on, or make fun of you, whichever the case may be.
Ultimately, brwaking bad habits and accomplishing your goals comes down to self-discipline and drive. No web application is going to instill that in you. But Joe’s Goals certainly goes a long way toward helping people outline the specific things they want to change about their lives, and providing a tool they can use to track their progress and achieve success.
Do you have any tools that you use to track your goals or change habits? Offer your own tips and tricks in the comments section below.