6 Ways a Planner Can Help You Reach Your Goals

Simple steps for how to use a planner for goals

You can transform your planner into an effective goal-setting tool by doing six key things:

  1. Choose the right goal planner.
  2. Outline big goals in your planner.
  3. Break down big goals into actionable steps.
  4. Schedule daily and weekly tasks.
  5. Track progress towards your goals.
  6. Celebrate your milestones.

Keep reading to learn how to accomplish each step so that your planner helps you reach your goals.

Do planners help with goals?

In summary, planners do help with goals if you put in the work to thoughtfully plan, track, and evaluate your steps to success. That begins with following our six steps to using your planner for goals. Start by choosing the right goal planner. Then outline your big goals and break them down into actionable steps (or SMART goals). Once you have your actionable steps, schedule daily and weekly tasks in your planner to stay organized and on track. Regularly track your progress towards your goals, and finally, remember to celebrate milestones along the way to help you stay motivated.

1) Choose the right goal planner

First things first, it’s important to choose a planner with space to work through the process of mapping big goals and breaking them down into smaller tasks. For example, blank pages are perfect for mind-mapping your goals to get them on paper quickly. In fact, extra pages are crucial because, in order to effectively use your planner for goals, you will need to look at the big picture as well as day-to-day tasks.

What is the best goal planner?

The ideal goal planner should have ample space for brainstorming big goals, breaking them down into actionable steps, and scheduling tasks with calendar pages. Most importantly, it should be visually appealing to keep you motivated—think bright colors, inspiring quotes, and fun stickers! While there are many options, the Avery + Amy Tangerine planners (29880 and 29881) offer all this and more:

  • Extra blank, lined, and grid pages
  • Undated calendar pages for flexibility
  • Free planner sticker sheet
  • Pockets for loose papers
  • Rainbow design
  • Monthly inspirational quotes
Colorful Avery + Amy Tangerine goal planners with watercolor rainbow designs on the front paint splatter Avery UltraTabs 74712.

Avery + Amy Tangerine planners 29880 and 29881 are perfect for goal setting.

Pair them with matching Avery + Amy Tan watercolor UltraTabs (74712) for more mood-boosting color!

How to make your own goal journal

“I use my bullet journal to track my long-term goals. I find it helpful to write down my goals and then break them down into smaller steps that I can take to achieve them. This helps me to stay focused and motivated.”

Erin Zadoorian, CEO of BudPop, an ecommerce wellness brand

To make your own goal journal, you can either create goal planner spreads in your bullet journal or use a dedicated notebook, binder, or journal specifically for your goals. For example, entrepreneur Erin Zadoorian creates goal spreads in her bullet journal to track long-term goals, then breaks them down into smaller steps to maintain focus and motivation. Meanwhile, she uses traditional calendar spreads to schedule daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to stay on track with her goals.

If you’ve never used a bullet journal before, check out our article with bullet journal ideas that will help you get started.

2) Outline big goals in your planner

“I’ll write down my goal in the center of a mind map and in as much detail as possible. On the branches of the map, I put down qualities needed to achieve the goal in purple, actionable steps to take in red, and potential pitfalls in yellow.”

Phillip Ohren, Founder of Intender

How to write goals in a diary, journal or planner

Mind mapping is the method described above by advertising strategist Phillip Ohren and it’s a very effective way to outline your big goals. Another way to write your goals in a journal or planner is to dedicate blank pages just for listing goals. Once you’ve made a list, you can review and revise your goals before breaking them down into smaller steps. Whether you mind map or make lists, color-coding is a great way to visually sort what you write down.

An example of how to write goals in a diary or journal using the mind mapping technique.

Avery dual-tip markers are perfect for outlining and color-coding big goals in your planner.

Choose between a chisel tip for broad strokes and a fine tip for filling in details.

3) Break down big goals into actionable steps

“…if a goal is particularly important or difficult to achieve, I will also dedicate a separate page in my journal to it so that I can break the goal into more manageable ‘mini-goals’ that will help me achieve the overall aim.”

Richard Brandenstein, attorney at law and partner at Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C.

What is a SMART goal journal?

A SMART goal journal breaks down goals into more manageable steps so they are easier to achieve. SMART stands for:

  • Specific: A goal is narrow, so the steps to success are clear. 
  • Measurable: A defined way to track your progress toward larger goals.
  • Attainable: You can reasonably accomplish the goal.
  • Relevant: Each goal aligns with your larger plan and long-term goals.
  • Time-Based: The goals have an end date, so you can prioritize them.

Smart goals journaling example

An example of a SMART goal in journaling could be to increase social engagement by 20% within the next quarter by posting one high-quality Instagram post daily at peak engagement hour. This is specific (Instagram engagement, 20% increase), measurable (business account analytics), achievable (one post a day is realistic), relevant (improves online presence and potential sales), and time-bound (achieved within 3 months). Journaling can be used to brainstorm post ideas, track photo shoot details, and monitor progress towards the engagement goal.

SMART goals journaling example using a free Avery template for making SMART goals stickers.

Create your own SMART goals planner stickers! Print this sticker sheet on repositionable sticker paper (53202) using an inkjet printer. Or, order the design on custom-printed removable label sheets.

For more sticker tips, check out our guide to making DIY planner stickers.

4) Schedule daily and weekly tasks

Using your planner to schedule tasks is simple and can make it a lot easier to reach your long-term goals. Especially when you use visual aids as you fill in your planner with tasks. One great way to do that is to use different colors for different priorities or projects to keep your planner neat and easy to read. You can even use color to boost your mood. According to a published article in Acta Psychologica (a peer-reviewed, open-access journal), bright colors are strongly associated with positivity the world over. Planner stickers are also useful visual aids. In fact, they can act as progress flags for each step you take towards your goal, create visual timelines, and aid in color-coding as well. 

How to make a monthly goal planner spread

First, dedicate a two-page spread in your planner. On the first page, write down your main goal for the month at the top. Below, brainstorm and list smaller, actionable steps and/or SMART goals to help you achieve them. On the facing page, use a calendar view or habit tracker to schedule specific tasks and track your progress throughout the month. Decorate with colorful highlighters and stickers for an extra motivational boost.

An example of a monthly planner spread Avery 6777 productivity-themed planner sticker pack.

Try our productivity-themed planner sticker pack (Avery 6777) to highlight and flag tasks as you schedule them.

5) Track progress towards your goals

I’m a very visual person, so when I am planning, tracking, and working to accomplish my goals, I like to draw and use images.

Jim Trevors, Head of Operations, We Review Tires

Habit and goal trackers are useful tools to help you visually track your progress towards goals. You can draw them in your planner by hand if you have the time and ability to do so, or you can use template stickers to quickly add trackers to your goal planner. The templates below are awesome because you can customize them or print them just the way they are using our free Avery Design and Print Online software.

Free goal planner templates for habit and goal trackers

6) Celebrate your milestones

“The most important part is finding fun ways to reward myself when I achieve something — even if it’s just treating myself to frozen yogurt at my favorite local spot.”

Stephanie Venn-Watson, DVM, MPH, Fatty15 Co-Founder & CEO

Marking milestones in your planner is especially important because humans love to finish lists. It actually releases feel-good dopamine in our brains to do so, and this article about the psychology of why we love completing to-do lists is fascinating. After you’ve marked your milestone as complete, further enforce the positive feeling with a reward of your choice. Here, our reward of choice is more cute planner accessories!

Our favorite cute planner accessories

Avery 6785 planner sticker pack. One sticker with gold accents is shown up close and there are many more sheets from the pack in the background.

Avery 6785 planner sticker variety pack is a favorite for lots of color, motivational stickers, and metallic accents.

Avery + Amy Tangerine 6782 planner sticker pack sheets are shown on a pink background. The stickers are super colorful in a rainbow palette and feature positive, upbeat messages.

The 6782 planner sticker pack is part of our collab with designer Amy Tangerine, featuring her signature rainbow color palette and upbeat messaging.

Sparkly Avery Lux Collection UtlraTabs are laid out on a blue background in in interesting, geometric pattern.

Who can resist sparkles? The UltraTabs Luxe collection features a variety of glitters and holographic metallic colors that shimmer and shine.

You can reposition these durable tabs to index or flag anything in your goal planner!

Power-up your potential with the right goal planner

In conclusion, turning your planner into a powerful goal-setting tool is straightforward with the right approach. By following six key steps—choosing the right planner, outlining your big goals, breaking them down into actionable steps, scheduling tasks, tracking your progress, and celebrating milestones—you can stay organized and motivated. This method not only helps you clearly define and achieve your goals but also keeps you engaged and inspired throughout the process. Whether you use colorful markers, stickers, or customized templates, these strategies will ensure your planner supports you every step of the way on your journey to success.

How do you use your planner for goal-setting? Follow us on Instagram for more planner inspiration, and share your goal spreads using #averyproducts.

Author: JoJo Mrgich

JoAnn (JoJo) Mrgich is a copywriter and SEO content writer who began her copywriting career in 2011. A musical theater major at the time, JoJo began writing blog articles, product descriptions, and other online content for a dancewear brand. Since then, she has gone on to write in a variety of fields, from essential oils and natural beauty to fashion and swimwear, finally landing at Avery, which she affectionately calls her "forever home." At Avery, JoJo writes content for the Avery blog, covering everything from organization to party planning, as well as contributing to other online content for avery.com. She is also a technical and content writer for Avery Industrial, where she writes in-depth articles that span a wide variety of topics, from safety compliance to 5S lean practices. In her personal life, JoJo is a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works such as Lord of the Rings and Star Trek (especially the original series). She also loves going to Disneyland and runs a non-profit social organization of 600 members that brings fans of "nerd culture" together for meet-ups and events in Southern California.