Melanie has a BS in physical science and is in grad school for analytics and modeling. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.
Gamify Your Life With a Goal-Tracking Puzzle
I'm naturally a goal setter and have always loved making lists of things to do. Now, actually completing the task is a different ballgame!
As someone who is externally motivated, I've found that gamifying my own goals significantly increased the likelihood I would complete a task. It even sometimes makes completing tasks more fun.
In recent years, gamification has become a popular method for achieving goals.
Using a Puzzle to Track Your Goals
A puzzle can be the perfect way to track your progress. This is a very versatile way to track a goal as it can be used for saving money for something you want, paying off credit card debt, and even if you're trying to lose weight.
To make a goal tracking puzzle:
- Find a large photo of your goal, so you can visualize what you want.
- On the back of the image, draw out puzzle pieces.
- Cut out each piece and count them.
- Divide your goal by the number of puzzle pieces. For example, if you're trying to lose 20 pounds, divide the number 20 by the number of puzzle pieces. If you have 10 puzzle pieces, each piece would be worth 2 pounds.
- Every time you complete a segment of your goal (like losing 2 pounds), you can add one piece to the puzzle.
- When the picture is complete, you have completed your goal!
This is an awesome way to not only remind yourself of your goal but to actually be able to visualize your progress.
Sticker Charts Are AWESOME
Goal Tracking With a Sticker Chart
Sticker charts are a fun way to track goals that relate more to day to day activity. These are perfect for goals that can't really be divided up into segments. Both positive and negative activities can be tracked using a sticker chart.
Create a sticker chart by listing positive daily activities, such as brushing your teeth, exercising, eating an apple, and by listing negative activities (behaviors you'd like to get rid of) like drinking pop or buying something you don't really need. Put a sticker on your chart every time you complete these activities.
Joe's Goals is an online sticker chart that you can use to mark your achievements (and negative activities) as you complete them.
Online Fundraiser Thermometers
A fundraiser thermometer is very similar to the puzzle idea but has one slight difference: you must meet a specific "segment" to be able to add a piece to the puzzle. With a fundraiser thermometer, you can add more to the thermometer each time you meet any part of your goal.
This idea is not only useful for money-related goals, but it can also be used for a weight loss goal, using pounds or ounces instead of dollars.
Read More From Toughnickel
You may have seen these drawn out on poster board, but fortunately, you can use an online fundraiser thermometer which you can hide away in an unpublished blog post if you'd like to keep your goal private.
What's nice about an online thermometer is that the code for the thermometer adds all the color for you, so there's no guesswork involved in how many colors you should add in relation to how much of the goal you've completed. Also, there's no red marker all over your hands!
If you backtrack a little, you can make a quick edit to reflect this.
The Fantastic World of Graphs
Graphs might remind you of falling asleep in geometry, but they actually can be fun when you use them to keep track of spending, saving, or paying something off!
Bar and line graphs are the best kind of graphs for keeping track of financial goals, especially when you're tracking a long-term goal, such as paying off credit cards or a car loan! There is a huge variety of tools you can use to create graphs on your computer from Excel and Open Office Calc (free and awesome) to websites with free graphing apps (the National Center for Education and Statistics has some free, kid-friendly graph-making tools)
Going Public: Share Your Goals With Others
Nothing is more fun than sharing your goals with others! Sharing your goals with others is a fantastic way to get motivated as well as have a bit more accountability than if you go it alone. Here are some awesome ways to get involved with others:
- Share your goals on your personal blog. (You can even post your thermometer there!)
- Get involved in a forum where others are working toward a goal.
- Join a goal-setting community where members list and share their goals with each other.
- Post your goals on Facebook and keep your friends informed. Nobody really knows how to cheer you on like your friends and family!
Remember when setting a goal to make sure it's something you actually can achieve. Setting a goal that is impossibly difficult is a great way to make you feel like giving up.
Break up your goals into smaller achievable segments, and remember to have fun with it!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Melanie Palen
Kyson Parks from San Diego, CA on April 07, 2020:
These are great! I definitely need to visualize my goals, so these are helpful ideas. I think I will try the puzzle pieces sometime. I use an excel sheet to track savings/debt, and that is really helpful.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on May 06, 2015:
Great ideas on how to achieve goals and time manage your tasks. I like the sticker chart idea, too. Voted up for useful!
John Hollywood from Hollywood, CA on September 03, 2014:
Very meaningful hub and certainly helpful to me with goal attainment. The sticker charts top was particularly a good one!
Esther Strong from UK on February 06, 2013:
Most of these ideas are new to me - many thanks for sharing. Will certainly keep them in mind.
Megan Garcia from Florida on December 28, 2012:
I love these ideas! I'm am going to try the puzzle pieces for losing weight!
Annette R. Smith from Ocala, Florida on December 28, 2012:
I'm glad this one crossed my feed today (thanks for sharing it, jainismus). What fun, visual ways to track our goals in the new year. You did a good job, Melanie. Voted up and across!
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on October 28, 2012:
I like your puzzle idea. Nothing can motivate you as much as seeing your goal completed.
Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on June 01, 2012:
Yipee, Congratulations Mel! For winning hub of the day, you are such an awesome tutor. Great hub helping us get those goals accomplished. Thanks!
NetBlots from Melbourne on February 23, 2012:
I have seen that thermometer in my partners work place before!! =)
iamaudraleigh on February 22, 2012:
Great ideas in your hub! I am going to share this definitely! Voted up!
Cloverleaf from Calgary, AB, Canada on February 21, 2012:
I love setting goals, and I think you're goal tracking puzzle is a really fun tool. Nicely done :)
Joseph De Cross from New York on February 21, 2012:
This is a fun read. The goals can be achieved better following these tips! Voted up!
Shell Vera from Connecticut, USA on February 17, 2012:
These are great and fun ideas! I love the graphs and puzzle ideas, as well as your goal of winning Starbucks for life (can there be two winners?). I am a goal-oriented individual and think these would add some fun to my goals of paying off student loans, losing weight, and eating better.
I was thinking a fun spin on the puzzle goal could be to have a real puzzle that I want to complete, but can only put together as many pieces as I drink glasses of water that day. That is, if I drink 8 glasses of water, then I can put together 8 pieces that day. This would be motivation to ensure I drink the minimum required water each day AND I would have a beautiful puzzle after a certain time!
Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on February 09, 2012:
Great tips and cool visuals and best of all, terrific advice:-)
Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on January 28, 2012:
Good hub. I particularly like the puzzle goal chart.
Laura Brown from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on January 24, 2012:
I'm working on not letting myself procrastinate or get distracted by smaller things I don't really need to do. I like your post and will probably read it again.
cr00059n on January 11, 2012:
Some piece and enjoyment when achieving goals would be helpful. Relaxing and taking it easy does take a lesser toll on the body. This is a healthy way to progress towards the future. Thanks for sharing.
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on January 09, 2012:
You certainly deserve a big congratulations. This is an excellent hub and I also like the puzzle. I'm big on setting goals so this will help. Thanks so much and voted a big UP!
Rhonda Waterhouse on January 09, 2012:
Great tips! I'm going to try some of these! :-)
Joana e Bruno from Algarve, Portugal on January 06, 2012:
Very interesting. Know exactly what you mean about putting yourself under a lot of pressure and just loved the ideas. Very light and simple and amusing, while at the same time motivational. Loved the puzzle.
Diane Ziomek from Alberta, Canada on January 06, 2012:
Great ideas for goal setting...or should I say goal reaching. I like the thermometer idea; perhaps I will draw one and add a degree for every article I write this year. Or perhaps for my book goals? Voted up and useful!
creativebutterfly from Florida USA on January 05, 2012:
Heard of the puzzle before but forgot about it, thanks for the reminder. Good Hub enjoyed reading.
hhunterr from Highway 24 on January 05, 2012:
Well written, personal and motivational. Hadn't heard of the puzzle. That's enough to draw me in.
TerryHamel from Canada on January 05, 2012:
I enjoyed the article and the humourus angles. I'm very familiar with the graphing, charting and thermometer..but, I shoot from the hip.
epigramman on January 04, 2012:
...never thought of setting goals in this way - with the visualization technique - quite simple and effective and brilliant too just like this first class presentation which will find its way onto my FACEBOOK page with a direct link back here .....and thank you for your much appreciated visit to my humble little hubspace.
lake erie time ontario canada 12:55am
Melanie Palen (author) from Midwest, USA on January 04, 2012:
So many thoughtful comments! I'm so glad you all like the puzzle idea! It was something my sister and I have been doing since we were small children... saving up for things and dividing up the goal with puzzles!
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you guys not only complete all your goals, but you have a blast doing it! :P
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on January 04, 2012:
Great info! Well-written hub. I love all the ideas, especially the puzzle one. I may use that to lose some weight! :-) Happy New Year, and thanks for the great advice. Congratulations on Hub of the Day!
FutureDrKate on January 04, 2012:
Agreed! The puzzle sounds like it would work great for kids too.
freecampingaussie from Southern Spain on January 04, 2012:
Congratulations on a great hub with some really handy ideas for everyone . one of my goals is to get to Europe this year .
Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on January 04, 2012:
Congratulations on Hub of the Day. Your ideas are excellent and timely. Voted up!
Liz Rayen from California on January 04, 2012:
Excellent Hub! Love the Puzzle idea for losing weight. However, would need an awfully big photo and about 300 puzzle pieces.. hehe..j/k I am going to try that on a couple of goals I have set for myself! Voted up!
Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on January 04, 2012:
Haha, great hub and congratulations! The sticker chart and graphs are a good idea and loads of fun. I might need a sticker chart for my wedding planning this year ;)
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on January 04, 2012:
Congrats on Hub of the Day! Well-deserved!
Puzzles! What a unique idea! Sticker charts are a great visual to help kids with their goals. Graphs, charts and thermometers, oh my!
What a fun hub! Voted up, interesting and useful.
RTalloni on January 04, 2012:
These are indeed some fun ways to use goal tracking tools. Congrats on your Hub of the Day award that could help many people as well as be adapted for teaching children about setting and reaching goals.
Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on January 04, 2012:
Congratulations on Hub of the Day!! Well deserved Mel.
Nice hub too! duh! I think I can incorporate a few of these into my classroom.
Thank you for sharing!
ebookcoach on January 04, 2012:
Using external tools is great (pictures, charts, etc.)! One thing that makes them even better is closing your eyes and internalizing them. Make the picture and the vision you hold come from within you... make it a PART of you... this will increase the speed with which you achieve your goals. It's a great step to see the goal in front of you and to incorporate it into the fiber of your being can make that step even more effective.
Veronica Roberts from Ohio, USA on January 04, 2012:
This is a rather motivational hub... I can't say that for too many thus far in 2012! Nice layout & flow to the hub; very well-written, as always!
Congrats on having the Hub of the Day! Well-deserved!
Madeleine Salin from Finland on January 04, 2012:
Congrats! This hub deserves to be Hub of the Day. I love the idea with the puzzle and it's always nice to show the results to other people.
jacqui2011 from Norfolk, UK on January 04, 2012:
Congratulations on being chosen as "Hub of the Day".
A great article full of inspiration and motivation. Your ideas are fantastic. I am definitely going to chart my progress. Great work. Thank you.
cr00059n on January 04, 2012:
This is a remarkable article which lays out the foundations for enjoying work. Never have I read an article which remarkably articulates the subject working to achieve goals the fun way. You've really inspired me to work hard and achieve my goals. Thanks for the nice content page. Voted Up Big Time. Trully a great writer.
Zainnisar from Little Island, Heart. on January 04, 2012:
These are really Fun way to set goals, I love the puzzle and Congrats Melbel for Hub of the day you deserved. I did some effort as well on 5 Professional Goals to set this Year and wrote about 2600 words but I guess I really need to work hard to get any prominence and that cute little e on my avatar and guess what I already have made my puzzle of e and cut it in 6 parts.Once again congrats for an inspirational hub.
HubPages Elite here I come.
Marissa from United States on January 04, 2012:
I love the picture puzzle idea! I'm going to use that for my kids and myself. My son would love seeing pictures of things he could earn if he meets his goals. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the Hub-of-the-Day!!
Tammy from North Carolina on January 04, 2012:
Very creative! Great tools for any goal setting activity. Excellent!
Congratulations on having yet another hub of the day! You are on fire!
style-of-life from Netherlands on January 04, 2012:
Hahaha. These are surely fun ways to track and trace your goals. Voted up!
BRIAN SLATER on January 04, 2012:
Great advice Melanie, you have come up with some ways of achieving your target in a fun way. Congrats on the HOTD award !
Shasta Matova from USA on January 04, 2012:
Congratulations on a well deserved Hub of the Day. I really like using charts and graphs, but hadn't thought of the stickers, puzzle or thermometer. Thanks for the links as well. Voted up.
Deborah Neyens from Iowa on January 04, 2012:
What a week for you Melbel. First you get married and then you get Hub of the Day! Congratulations. Some really neat ideas in here, too. : )
Leah Lefler from Western New York on January 04, 2012:
I love, love, LOVE the puzzle idea! What a fun way to track progress toward a goal (and that one would work well with my kids, too)! Seeing the picture of the Disney cruise ship makes me think of setting goals for our future trips - we could put together a puzzle as we save the money for the trip. It might help the kids understand why we're not going out to eat, lol. Wonderful hub!
Prasanna Marlin from Sri lanka on January 04, 2012:
Excellent,I like the Puzzle idea.other idea also Not to bad
Anyway thanks for the excellent hub.
My Congratulations on this being Hub of the Day :)
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on January 04, 2012:
Wow Melbel, this is terrific! I absolutely love the puzzle idea, but the graphs are terrific too. What I really like is that all the ideas provide some way to visualize achieving our goals. I am so glad to see this as hub of the day because so many people will see it and benefit from it. Congratulations.
H C Palting from East Coast on January 04, 2012:
I especially like the puzzle idea and had never heard of this one. Very useful hub.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on January 04, 2012:
Congrats on Hub of the Day! You spent a lot of time and effort on this Hub, and you have some wonderful ideas for all of us. I've bookmarked this Hub, and will come back to use some of your ideas. They are all so good. Thanks for sharing. I voted this UP, etc.
Eiddwen from Wales on January 04, 2012:
A great hub and a well deserved winner.
Yvonne Spence from UK on January 04, 2012:
I feel inspired to chart progress towards my goals. I can be a tad unorganised about it, and was just thinking recently about changing that, so this practical advice was timely for me.
Congratulations on this being Hub of the Day!
Brittany Kennedy from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on January 03, 2012:
WOW! I love this hub and really need it to get motivated. I love the graphs you suggested. I am a very visual person and often feel the need to create graphs and sticker charts. I am definitely going to make a puzzle for my husband and me to get on track and really have our goals in front of us. Thank you for sharing, voted up, etc.
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on January 03, 2012:
OMG! Graphs! Charts! Puzzles! Each one of these things looks like so much fun!! Hahaa, and I thought that tracking goals could not be even more enjoyable (I really like setting goals). I can't wait to incorporate these into my processes!
Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on January 03, 2012:
These are awesome and encouraging ideas. I especially like the tracking puzzle idea for motivation. I can see myself employing one of these ideas. Thanks.
Joseph De Cross from New York on January 03, 2012:
Not to bad!! Once you set goals, you need to set yourself to reminders and goal achievers. We all are different and we have our ups and downs...Thanks for this Important reminders.
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 02, 2012:
These ideas are all really fun! Thanks for sharing!
Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on January 02, 2012:
Great ideas Melbel! I love the puzzle idea....I do like to watch my progress with some sort of reminder. If I'm going on vacation (I usually always have one planned) I keep a photo of where I'm going right near my computer screen so when I'm working and get frustrated - I have a look at the photo and remind myself of the reward:).
And I noticed your goal list you have meet a respectable young man - you have only been married a couple of days and you are cheating with respectable men?? Lol. Happy Nrw Year!
Kris Heeter from Indiana on January 02, 2012:
I love the Puzzle idea - that's really cool! I may have to give that a try:)
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on January 02, 2012:
I always like "playing games" to help push myself toward my goals and you've suggested some great ideas - love the puzzle piece one - to help you stay motivated in achieving personal goals!
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on January 02, 2012:
These are very useful ideas for reaching goals. I especially think your Puzzle to Track Goals is very creative. It always helps when one can visually observe their success. It can be used for just about any goal, not just weight loss.
Sunnyglitter from Cyberspace on January 02, 2012:
Voted up and bookmarked! Love it!
Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on January 02, 2012:
These are unusual yet exciting ways to track our goals. I like the thermometer and the graphs.
Shelly Epperly from Vancouver,WA on January 02, 2012:
Love this hub... thanks for sharing your ideas with all of us. I am a teacher of the law of attraction and making all things fun is what it is all about. Enjoy your new year.
Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on January 02, 2012:
This ticks all the boxes. So Did I. Well done! Will be practicing some of your suggestions. Add a bit of colour to the goals...
Aarav from Mumbai on January 01, 2012:
Melanie some really very well thought out practices to achieve goals. Especially the sticker charts.
I have used 43things but was not active on that so I didn't had that much success. What better time to get involved in it.
Anyway thanks for the excellent hub.
Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on January 01, 2012:
Excellent hub to get us jumpstarted into 2012 to make goal reaching fun and rewarding. Thanks for this helpful piece, and Happy New Year to you! Thumbs up. Really good ideas...I love the puzzle idea.