How Evernote can Help you Achieve Your Goals in 2015

Tips & Stories

How Evernote can Help you Achieve Your Goals in 2015

Posted by Michael Hyatt on 29 Dec 2014

Posted by Michael Hyatt on 29 Dec 2014

If you are going to achieve your goals in 2015, you must have a way to track your progress, so you actually achieve it.

There are a variety of tools for doing this. Author Michael Hyatt provides tips on how he uses Evernote to organize his life and focus on accomplishing business goals for the new year.

gts-3d-laptopHyatt is the author of The New York Times bestseller, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He is also the founder of Platform University and the massively popular course, 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.

Like millions of other people, I use Evernote as my “digital brain” to store ideas, notes, web clips, receipts, recipes, important documents, event details, and more. I couldn’t get along without it.

But, did you know you can also use it to help you achieve your most important goals for 2015? There are three advantages of doing so:

1. It’s a tool you’re probably already using. You likely don’t have to learn or purchase something new.

2. It’s a tool that is available on every device. This makes it easier to keep your goals visible—a key to following through on them. You can review your goals on your desktop while at the office or on your mobile device while on the go.

3. It’s a tool that is simple and flexible. So many goal-setting apps force you into their system and structure. They are often overkill with too many features. Evernote, on the other hand, is fairly free-form, so you can create whatever structure works best for you.

You can use Evernote to track your goals by following these four simple steps.

Step 1: Type all your goals into one summary note.

gts-screenshot-01Figure 1: Create a Goal Summary Note

* Enter “00. 2015 Goals” as the title of the Evernote note. The double zeros will make sense in a moment.

* Tag this note with two tags: “2015” and “goals.”

* Now type one goal per line. Whatever the goal, make sure it’s smarter.

* Rearrange the goals into an order that makes sense for you. I put my personal goals first, followed by my professional ones.

* Number each goal. I use leading zeros for single digit numbers (e.g., 01, 02, etc.), so the detail notes will sort correctly if I have more than nine (more about that in a moment).

* Insert a checkbox before each goal (⇧⌘T on Evernote for Mac or Ctrl-Shift-C on Evernote for Windows).

Step 2: Create a separate detail note for goal.

gts-screenshot-02Figure 2: Create a Goal Detail Note for Each Goal

* Enter the actual goal as the title of your Evernote note. Include the number.

* Sort the Goal Detail Notes in numerical order by selecting View > Sort by: Title (This is why you included the number in the note title field.).

* Tag each of these notes (goals) with two tags: “2015” and “goals.”

* Set a Reminder for either the start date or (more likely) the deadline. This depends on whether the goal is a habit (start date) or a target (end date).

* Now insert the following sections: Key Motivations, Next Actions, Progress Reports, and Random Notes.

* To make this easy, download my Evernote goals template. Once you have downloaded the file, just double-click on it to open it in Evernote. Now, move the note into the notebook you are using for your goals. You can do this for each goal detail note you want to create.

* Now fill out each section. Obviously, feel free to use different sections. These are just the ones I recommend.

Step 3: Link each goal note to your summary.

gts-screenshot-03Caption: Figure 3: Link Your Goal Detail Notes to Your Summary Note

* Right-click on each goal note.

* Select Copy Note Link.

* Go to your summary note.

* Highlight that specific goal.

* Select Format > Link > Add.

* Paste the link into the blank field of the dialog box. Click OK.

* Repeat this procedure for each goal.

* When you finish, you should have a Goal Summary with links to each of your individual goals (see Figure 3 above).

Step 4: Create a Saved Search to review all your goals.

gts-screenshot-04-2Figure 4: Create a shortcut Using a Saved Search

* Place your cursor in Evernote’s search field, in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Type “tag:2015 tag:goals” Don’t include the period at the end.

* Now select Edit > Find > Save Search.

* Type “2015 Goals” in the dialog box. Click on the OK button.

* Make sure your cursor is still in the search field, at the end of the text string you typed earlier (directly after the word, “goals”).

* Now click once with your mouse. This should display all your Saved Searches.

* Use your mouse to highlight 2015 Goals. Now click and drag it to the shortcuts side navigation menu on the left of the screen. Position the shortcut where you want it to appear and then release the mouse button.

The key is to achieving your goals is to review your goal list on a regular basis. All you have to do is click on the shortcut you created (see Step 4 above). By the way, if you choose to display your notes sorted by note title, the leading zeros will ensure they sort in the correct order.

My own practice is to review my Goal Summary daily and each individual Goal Detail Note weekly. I do it during my weekly review.

Learn more

How do other high achievers get organized and on-track for 2015? Tony Robbins, John Maxwell, Dave Ramsey, and 22 other hugely successful entrepreneurs and leaders reveal their best strategies and tips in Michael Hyatt’s new eBook: Set Yourself Up for Your Best Year Ever: The 8 Strategies of Super-Successful High Achievers Use to Prepare for the New Year.

Click here to download it now free.

How do you plan to use Michael Hyatt’s system to create and execute your goals in 2015? Share your ideas, questions, and tips in the comments. 


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88 Comments RSS

  • Charlie Marino

    Thanks for the step-by-step and template approach, really useful!

  • Greg DeBrun

    Great tips and structure for developing and achieving goals for 2015.

    • Taylor Pipes

      Thanks, Greg! Glad you enjoyed these. Let us know how you make use of them and good luck in 2015!

  • Dennis Lynn

    Excellent post! I just spent all day Sunday (Dec 28) setting up a really nice CRM / Sales Funnel in EverNote. I am using EN for everything in 2015 – with one exception – I will still use Google Calendar. Thanks so much for the post – will be working on this for the next couple of days.

    • George Sebastian

      Hi Dennis,

      Can you please advise on how to use EN for CRM, Sales Funnel.

  • Paul

    This is fantastic. It would be awesome if Evernote had a template note system so we could make new notes from templates we save directly from within Evernote.

    • Omer

      Paul — you can just copy an existing note as a ‘template’. E.g.

      1. Start with a copy of Michael’s goal template in whichever Evernote notebook you want.

      2. Right click on that note and select “Copy to [Your Evernote Notebook] Again”

      3. This will create another copy of the template which you can work with.

      I guess Evernote could add a ‘template’ feature but it probably wouldn’t be much easier or faster than this approach.

      • Paul

        thanks Omer. Great tip!

        • Steve

          Where is the link to Michael’s Evernote Goal Template?

    • Michael Hyatt

      You actually can do this now, Paul. I create templates all the time and tag them “templates.” When I want to use one, I right click and chose Copy to Notebook.

      • Charlie

        Thanks, Michael! I just spent a wonderful New Years day setting up your system for my 2015 Goals!
        Thanks again!

        • Taylor Pipes

          We are so happy to hear that you are excited about using this system in Evernote for 2015! Let us know how it works.

  • Lon Phillips

    Mine said that Windows couldn’t load the file. Did you use a Mac?

    • Lon Phillips

      My Copy Note Link is in the Note Section of the Menu, not Right Click and I cannot find anything in the Format Menu about Link.

      • Josh

        I had to right click on the link and “Save Link as” then saved it to my desktop.

        I then had to right click on the icon, click on “open with” and choose Evernote from my programs.

        Once I did this it worked.

        The updated Evernote has replaced “link” with “Hyperlink”. It does the same thing.

        Hope this helps.

  • Quentin

    Hi, I can only comment as a Mac user but wouldn’t it be easier to first produce the individual goal notes in a notebook and then simply select all the notes and get Evernote to generate a Table of Contents note for you? This would make it easier to update the TOC note if you added additional goals during the year. Just a thought, that’s what I do.

    • Andreas

      That is exactly what I would do as well. Much easier to set up. I like the workflow but the execution seems convulated to me.

      • Lon Phillips

        I coyuldn’t find anything on a Table of Contents for a Windows machine, only for a Mac, so I did a Copy Note Link for each goal and pasted it in a ToC note. It works! I MUSTA goofed!

        • Jim Carr

          Table of Contents Notes do exist in Windows. Just select multiple notes by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking the notes, and then you’ll be given options such as Merge, Share and “Create Table of Contents Notes”

    • Michael Hyatt

      Okay, this is embarrassing … I wasn’t even aware of the TOC feature. That is HUGELY cool! Thanks.

      • Michael Hyatt

        One thing you don’t get with the TOC is the to-do checkbox before each item. I don’t know of a way to automate that.

        • Fokke

          @Michael You can easily add todo checkboxes to lines. Just select the lines you want to add a todo checkbox to and click the checkbox icon in the toolbar.

      • Steve Godfrey

        Re: TOC don’t be embarrassed. I really appreciate what you put together and the interaction here only adds value to the whole project. I’m a fairly experienced Evernote user and I didn’t know about the TOC feature either. In additional to benefitting from writing goals I’m also benefitting from seeing how you and others leverage Evernote.

        I love the product. Favorite features:
        – Scanning documents using my phone
        – Scanning business cards using my phone and auto-populating address book entries with the results
        – The web clipper
        – Automatic presentations

  • Ferdi Roberts

    nice post. I am using Evernote to manage my tasks and chapter notes for my first book which I started just 2 days ago. The book : The $100 Million Sales Handbook will provides sales lessons I’ve learned over the past 24 years in software sales. I’ll be capturing it all in Evernote as I aim to complete it in June of this year . That’s my primary objective this year and Evernote is central to helping me manage it!

    • George Sebastian

      Hi Ferdi,

      ATB for your book. Hope we in India will also benefit from it.

  • Lisa

    Excellent article and suggestions! And thanks for the template – so appreciated.

  • Aman

    Thanks a lot for this post. Was looking for something just like this.

  • Mike DeVries

    Great post Michael! I have found Evernote to be an awesome tool! For tracking my goals, I have decided to categorize them to create a “balanced life” – 1.00 – Spiritual Goals (Put First Things First); 2.00 Self (Because if I don’t take care of me, I’m worthless to anyone else); 3.00 – Family (don’t worry about the stock market, invest in your family); 4.00 – Work (I work for my Father – so, I need to work on purpose); 5:00 – Community (Because together we can make this a better place to live) – thanks for sharing your process here…it has made setting goals this year more fun and purposeful.

  • Mary

    This is fantastic! Thank you Michael and Evernote for sharing this great information.

  • 10 Pemain Bola Wanita Cantik Dunia

    Thanks .. 😀

  • Craig

    Hi Michael-great article-thanks. I’ve signed up for the ebook a couple of times but have not received an email response.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Which ebook are you talking about, Craig?

  • Erin May

    I’m at a crossroads in my life where I’ve been pretty stagnant. I’ve got all of these ideas & plans but have had some of them a while. I’ve never considered writing down a plan of action, especially not with deadlines & defined outcomes. It’s scary but exciting too, I’m just, in a way, afraid to not dream big enough, but also, afraid to dream too big. To me, it is dreaming, because it’s an entirely new path for me & I’m not sure what’s possible in what time frame or what I’m capable of. But, the bottom line is, is that reading your article gave me a new idea of how to start & has also filled me with excitement to get started. So, thank you! And I will be using your tool. If I keep my goals my secret, then if I dream too big no one will know.

  • Gloria Vargo

    Thank you for the goal process. Already started using.

  • Robby

    Thanks for this goal setting guide. I have tried using Evernote before to track goals, but never found a system that worked. Your steps and template came at just the right time. I am totally using this system this year. Thanks.

  • Ole

    Thanks for the tip! Great guide

  • Scott Heath

    Thanks Michael, this will help me keep on top of my goals and other projects. I like the Motivations, Next Actions, Progress Reports, and Random Notes. I also added a link in the note for each Goal linking back to the Summary Note.

  • Travis

    Great article! This is exactly what I was looking for.

    For myself on the summary note, I separated personal and professional goals, then when I numbered them I did 01, 02, 03, for personal, and p01, p02, p03 for professional so they will sort in the order I want them in.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s the beauty of Evernote, you can customize the system, so it is exactly how you want it.

      • Yana

        Such a smart process Michael! I’d love to share it with our thousands of users who have built their workflow around Evernote. I suggest adding all the foreseeable tasks related to the goal, listed in the details of the note. This will make it easier for a person to determine the ‘Next Action’ and the priority task, how long would it realistically take him/her to achieve the goal and what are the dependencies between the different steps/tasks in the process. What do you think about this suggestion?

  • Michelle C L

    Not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I’m not able to open the Evernote goals template. It wants me to select a program to open it with and I’m not getting anywhere. Anyone else run into this?

    • Steve Godfrey

      Michelle C L, It may be that you need to download the Evernote application to your computer.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Are you on a Windows machine? If so, does the file have an .xml extension or an .enex extension. It should be the latter. If not, please change the extension and give it another try. For some reason, some versions of Windows add the .xml extension. Unfortunately, I don’t have a windows machine to test it on.

    • Jeanne

      I’m having the same issue that Michelle describes. I am able to download the template but not able to open it. I am on Windows and the file saves with the .enex extension.

      • Jeanne

        I have resolved the issue by using the import file function and clicking on “Export Evernote Files”

        • Sara

          Jeanne, can you elaborate on how to import the template? I’m not able to open it. Thank you.

          • Josh


            I had the same problem.

            You have to right click on the document, choose “open with” and select “Choose Program”.

            You then need to find the “Evernote” Application program from the list. Mine was in “Program 64x” once there you should be good to go.

            Hope this helps. Let me know if you need help

      • Kristopher

        Thanks for the solution!

  • LP

    Wow. THANK YOU so much. Already putting this to use and creating a list of goals for an epic first year of self-employment. I appreciate you!

  • Brian

    Thank you for sharing, Michael! The template does not work. Anyone else having the same issue? Thanks!

  • Matt R.

    This was very helpful and a great way to use Evernote! Thank you.

  • Greg

    Thanks – I’m making it my mission to use Evernote to the max in 2015. Saving search tags has made me realise just how powerful Evernote is!

  • Mitch Mitchell

    Wow, #3 is definitely going to make using Evernote more of a “need to do” thing, and I love how you laid out each step. This is going to be a major year for me and this idea helps a lot. Great work; thanks!

    • Taylor Pipes

      Mitch, best of luck to a great year ahead. We hope that Evernote helps you accomplish all you set out to do in 2015.

  • Dave

    I use Evernote for personal, teaching and consulting and it is my savior. It literally is a second brain and virtual personal assistant all in one.
    Here are some resources I have created on Evernote for Education, but they are applicable to any area

  • Candace

    Thanks for the great directions. I already set up my personal & business goals. I am going to be overseeing a large grant starting this month & I plan on setting up my goals using this information.

  • Cheryl

    Great tips, Michael! I have a question about re-using templates with links. Suppose I set up my 2015 goals as you have using the links and want to re-use that hierarchy for next year. Is there a way to do this and maintain the links? For example, I’d like to be able to copy the top level note with links and have the links copy as well. This functionality would actually be for organizing work projects, which I have templates for. Instead of having to copy each template note individually and then attach to a new project note, I could just copy the project note, and it would make copies of each of the linked notes. It would be nice, but so far, I’ve seen no way to do this. Any suggestions to streamline this process?

  • Osric Caton

    Thanks Paul, for the detailed workflow and template!

  • Yannick

    Nice way to do it, but doing it by using task clone is way easier. Once the free subcription to taskclone is done, any note tagged taskclone will copy checkboxed items to an unique note. Useful to achieve tasks, but also good for goals.

  • Luis David

    ¡Excelente post! – Muy preciso e interesante. Lleno de ideas y de verdaderas ganas de ayudar a otro. MUCHAS GRACIAS.

    Excellent post!. Very helpful. You realy want to teach others to improve their lives. THANKS A LOT!

  • Randy

    I suppose the same set up could be done for monthly goal setting. It does seem like a lot of steps though!

  • greg venturella

    Thanks so much – this really is great. I would add that command K will take you right to the add link box – just save the two clicks

  • Giacomo Lawrance

    Thank you very much for this!

  • Sherry

    Great post! Thank you for stepping out your process. It helps to visually see how others are keeping track of their goals. The template really makes it easy to get started and follow your steps.

  • Steven

    WOW, seems awfully complicated, I prefer the BSQ method that evernote posted a week ago although I still haven’t set up my box yet.

  • sibb

    You have NO idea how much this has helped…the right thing at exactly the right moment. Thank you!!! This will help me strive towards my BIG goal for 2015!!

  • Wayne Entsminger

    I cant download this spreadsheet. I am getting the code not the spreadsheet

  • Roger

    Not able to format>link>add; please advise, thank you.
    Caption: Figure 3: Link Your Goal Detail Notes to Your Summary Note

    * Right-click on each goal note.

    * Select Copy Note Link.

    * Go to your summary note.

    * Highlight that specific goal.

    * Select Format > Link > Add.

    * Paste the link into the blank field of the dialog box. Click OK.

    * Repeat this procedure for each goal.

    * When you finish, you should have a Goal Summary with links to each of your individual goals (see Figure 3 above).

    • Taylor Pipes

      Roger, When you say you aren’t able to format, what do you mean? Where are you running into issues for this step?

    • Josh

      My edition of Evernote no longer had “Link” it contained “Hyperlink”. I just had to paste the copied link from the note into the hyperlink dialog.

      Let me know if you are still having problems

  • Nep Orshiso

    Wow, I’ve just been using Evernote on menial reminders like shopping lists, etc. Eager to try this out and monitor personal and business goals for the upcoming year. Easy to set-up and it was a succinct tutorial. Thank you much for the tutorial and template!

  • Markus Vieghofer

    Thanks for presenting us this great workflow and of course for the template. Starting with a template is so much easier as starting completely from scratch!

    I hope completing the goals is as easy as planning them 🙂

  • Sandy Lévêque

    This is excellent and I just finished setting it up in my own Evernote system. Thank you! I just had a question Michael about whether you continue to use Nozbe? I was reading earlier blogs you’d written about that and am wondering whether you use both or just Evernote now. Thanks!

    • Josh

      I listen to his podcasts a lot and he has recently (season 5) referenced using Nozbe. I think Evernote is his online brain and Nozbe is his task management software. He tracks to-do, delegated tasks, projects, etc. in Nozbe.

  • Zizou

    Great tips! Evernote rocks my world 🙂

  • Brian

    This is awesome. I am excited and motivated!!

  • Anup

    Thank you, it was very useful 🙂

  • Shobna


  • Paul Vaipuna

    Thank you very much Michael. This is extremely helpful.

  • can't download the template

    can’t download the template

    • Josh

      You need to right click (PC) or control click (mac) and Click on “Save link as”.

      If you are still having problems let me know. I just worked through this for myself.

  • Rich Hansen

    I tried to download Michael Hyatt’s “Evernote Goals Template” but just got a page with code. Can you help me, please? Thanks!

  • Josh

    This was wonderful! A little bit of work on the front end and some confusion with the XML document (I clicked on it and opened rather than saved it), but it was wonderfully presented.

    Such helpful content Michael! Thanks

  • Rohn

    This is the message I get when I try to “Control-click” the link. When I “Control-click” a box comes up and asks if I want to open in a new tab or window or whatever, and doesn’t give me “download” as an option.

    This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.

    {Write your goal here} {by when}

    Key Motivations Why is this goal important to you? Write 3-5 key motivations, one motivation per bullet. {Write first motivation here.} Next Actions What is the next action? What specific action do you you need to take to move yourself closer to achieving this goal? Don’t get bogged down in excessive planning. You don’t have to see the entire path. Identifying the next action is sufficient. When you complete that, write another. {Write first next action step here.} Progress Reports How are you doing? Track your progress here, by indicating the date and then a key measurement, milestone, or random note. Date Measurement, Milestone, or Random Note 00/00/2015 {Insert first note.} Random Notes What are you noticing and want to remember. Use this section as you would a journal. {Insert your notes here.}


    Michael S. Hyatt

    • Forrest Dylan Bryant

      Rohn: If you open the template in a browser window, you will see the XML code you describe. To use the template, save that XML page to your desktop. The file should be called “evernote-goal-template.enex” (you may need to rename it, removing an .xml extension if saving from a browser). Double-clicking on the .enex file should import it to Evernote. Hope that helps!

  • William Ingram

    I am trying to set up my 2016 Goals using the template. The template tag is automatically 2015. Do I have to manually change each one?
    Also, I can’t seem to use the 01, 02 etc… numbering system. When I put the period “01.” and hit return it automatically changes it to “1.” Does this matter that I can’t use the 01. as you suggested?

  • Anne Kubek

    I really love the Evernote approach Michael, thank you. I have added an inspiring photo to each goal note so that I keep a visual reminder of my “why” for each goal. For example, for my weight loss goal, I have a picture of myself at my goal weight. Thanks also for the tips on linking notes – I had not known about that. Your step by step instructions with the photos are super helpful. Would love to see a joint webinar between you and an expert from Evernote reviewing more of these little known tips. They are great.

  • FB

    Looks like a great approach to goal setting. FireGoal ( is another way to implement those similar concepts in a spreadsheet. The added value is the big picture overview with great charts. Nonetheless nice post, thanks!