When you have a goal you want to achieve, setting a goal is just the first step. Then comes the real work – creating a plan, taking smaller steps toward a bigger goal and most importantly tracking your progress.

Tracking and measuring progress over time is key to achieving goals—not only does it show when you're making progress (and give you a chance to fix it if you stop progressing), it can also help hold you accountable. However, tracking goals manually creates extra work that can get in the way of moving forward. Much better if you can automate some (or all) of this process – and that's where goal-tracking apps come in.

Many tech tools are available to help you track general goals, build habits, or measure specific goals, from exercise and sleep patterns to screen time, budget, and even your daily moods. Whatever goal you want to track, there's probably an app for it, and we've got a list with options for everyone—read on for all the details.

What is Goal Setting?

Goal setting literally means identifying something you want to achieve and then setting measurable goals and time frames.

This definition isn't bad, but it leaves out a big (and probably more important) part of goal setting: the work it takes to actually achieve them. In this sense, both setting goals and achieving them are skills that require work, practice, and sacrifice as you get better at them over time.

Science backs it up: studies have shown that setting and achieving goals actually rewires your brain chemistry. The more goals you set and work towards, the better your brain is primed for success and the easier it is to set and accomplish new goals. An article in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews breaks this down, explaining how the repeated practice of setting and working on new goals teaches your amygdala and frontal lobe to work together more effectively, making you better at achieving your goals over time.

How to Set Achievable Goals

A study that looked at how goal setting affects our brain chemistry also showed that every goal has two essential aspects: emotional (which activates the amygdala) and logical (which activates the frontal lobe).

Knowing this, we can conclude that a goal-setting framework that considers both the emotional and logical aspects of goal achievement is a good way to set yourself up for success. This is a big part of why I like the SMART Goals framework.

3 Apps for Tracking and Measuring Goals

For general habit-building, these 3 goal-tracking apps are some of the most popular. They offer different features, functionality and design – meaning there's something for everyone on this list. We'll start with the 9 best apps for general goal setting, then move on to 8 more apps we love for tracking more specific types of goals.

Journy

As one of the most powerful and comprehensive goal-setting apps available, Journy will be loved by those who want to measure their progress over time. It's extremely easy to use and offers daily habit reminders, regular progress reports, and a dashboard that displays your progress as a set of charts and graphs so you can get up-to-date information at a glance.

Download Journy App

Way of life

If you want a visual goal tracker, you'll love Way of Life. This is an app that helps reinforce good habits or break bad habits – once you've set a goal and related actions, Way of Life will send daily reminders and provide bar graphs, pie charts, trend lines and other statistical measures of your progress.

GoalsOnTrack

With GoalsOnTrack, it's all in the name: of keeping your goals on track. In addition to being available either on a desktop or as a mobile app, GoalsOnTrack excels in helping its users break down their goals into actionable sub-goals that fit within the framework of SMART Goals. This turns long-term ambitions into daily tasks, so you always have a step you can take to move your goal forward.