There is something very motivating about buying a shiny new planner. But how many of them actually help us achieve our goals? I put them to the test.
If you get the feeling of euphoria whenever you leaf through a newly-printed paperback book, then writing on a brand new goal planner feels even better.
The main appeal of goal planners is their well-crafted pages that can help you map out your goals.
However, not all planners are created equal.
For instance, some can go as far as saving you the hassle of making bullet points, while others present you with a reward system for every goal ticked off.
Being a planner junkie and a go-getter that I am, I confess to testing multiple planners at a time to make sure that I maximize my goal-setting mindset.
It actually took me a really long time to jump on the planners bandwagon. For a long time, I used a simple paper and pen for a to-do list and then I got really organized and started using a digital project management tool, so I saw no need for paper-based planners.
However, over the last few years, I’ve realized the value of using paper-based planners in addition to a computerized system.
It has been proven that putting pen to paper activates the brain in a way that typing just doesn’t, and I also feel way more creative when I’ve got a pen and paper.
So what I typically do is spend Friday afternoons with my planner, planning out my next week, away from my computer. This feels like a nice treat and a break away from work. I also spend whole days planning every 3 months and once a year.
I find it helps me get way more creative when I use a paper-based planner, and then I transfer my plan and my goals to the computer when I’m drawing up my STAMP plans.
Curious about which goal planners worked for me? Let me give you a review of the 20 best goal journals that can guarantee your goal achievement within a year or an even shorter period of time.
Here are 20 of the best planners in the market that provide even more than just documenting your goals.
To make it easy for you to decide, I’ve reviewed each brand according to features and effectiveness in keeping you accountable for your goals.
A 100-day challenge seems to be a popular benchmark for accomplishing things, and this is the main strength of this goal planner.
Its pages are pre-printed with daily prompts ranging from gratitude list to micro-goal checklist and personal assessment.
What I like about this planner is that it takes the guesswork out of structuring your goals.
Instead of simply listing down your goals, it encourages you to be more specific in your action plans, all while ensuring that you get a reality check at the end of the day.
As I am a huge paper fan, I am impressed by the quality of the pages.
For me, a good planner needs to have thick leaves so that your writing does not bleed to the next page.
The only annoyance I encountered with this planner is having the need to restate your goal blocks every single day.
Unless you’re not fond of the analog system of writing, you might find it tedious.
However, I see the point in this as I get to be reminded of the things I needed to improve on in relation to the achievement of my goals. Repetition is one of the things that helps you to achieve your goals so writing them out every day is actually a strategy for success.
This is by far the most useful planner I’ve had since it covers a whole year of goal-setting and consistent motivation.
It also offers a comprehensive approach to goal achievement by training your mind to focus on specific aspects like productivity, organizational skills, and accountability.
I particularly like this planner’s layout for goal checklist, which includes a reward systemーsomething that most planners and goal journals fail to add to the layout.
If you enjoy getting into details with your goals, this planner does not disappoint.
And while it has pre-printed prompts, it does give you a space to map out your thoughts freely.
In fact, aside from the little space dedicated to mind map and flowchart, this planner also comes with a foldable dream board that you can stick to the wall.
Similarly, I like that aside from the calendar and appointment-setting feature, this planner has a few extras such as the personal tracker and a reflection section.
Content-wise, it is packed with self-development tools that live up to the expectations coming from its product name, Law of Attraction. It asks the right questions about your life vision, strengths, and weaknesses so you can work on improving them.
When it comes to design, this planner perhaps has the best among the pack. It borrows themes from celestial bodies, which is perfect for grounding. It also comes in sleek cover options for those who prefer to keep it masculine or low-key fashionable. I love the look and feel of this planner and it makes me feel really abundant when I’m using it.
The only thing I’d change about this planner is to include a daily review and a weekly review section in addition to the monthly reviews that are built into the planner.
What I like about this planner is that it makes it easy for you to prioritize tasks while also reminding you to get in the mood to conquer the day through mindset prompts that you write about early in the morning.
What I love the most is that it has an “Evening Journal” feature that lets you reflect and assess your progress throughout the day so you can document the lessons you’ve learned and which areas you need to work on.
However, it best suits short-term goal-setting since it only allows you to use it for 60 days, although the pages are undated so you can start writing on it any time of the year.
It also kind of limits your journaling due to insufficient writing space, but I think it just forces you to consider jotting down only the urgent stuff so you keep your focus to priorities.
I am always torn about planners that don’t cover the full year. I love to set 90-day goals and I feel like it’s good to focus on chunking down goals like this, but at the same time, I really like to have a full year planner as it allows me to keep each year separate and I feel like I’m getting better value for my money.
As for its content features, I like that the Passion Roadmap helps me visualize my goals both short-term and long-term so that I remain motivated throughout the year. It is here where you can map out and illustrate your goals.
It also forces you to achieve your goals literally one day at a time, hence the weekly layout.
Additionally, it includes sections for writing down non-work-related tasks such as “People To See” and “Places To Go” so you don’t miss out on work-life balance.
It even inspires you with a motivational quote and a challenge to see how far you can achieve.
Probably the only issue that you might encounter is that the monthly reflection pages seem to disrupt your flip-throughs to get to the next month’s weekly spread. Otherwise, it will give you some time to reflect and assess your performance for the month that has passed.
Its layout is straightforward, which means even the pickiest user can easily breeze through the prompts, although not without feeling motivated.
This planner is rather systematic, asking questions pertaining to your daily to-do list and helps you enumerate your wins and defeats through its nightly reviews. All these with the sole purpose of assisting you in achieving the goal you get reminded of at the start of the day.
I like how the Freedom Journal also includes step-by-step guides that will surely be helpful for novice goal setters.
Yet again, this is only good for up to a hundred days of laser-focused goal setting, which isn’t bad if your goal falls under the short-term category. However, this is the main reason that I wouldn’t keep using The Freedom Journal as I set goals all year long, not just for 100 days.
I really like this one for itsーas the name suggestsーfocused approach on tackling your goals. None of those unnecessary graphics that eat writing space.
It has templates for your daily, and weekly reviews, and also includes habit-forming prompts and tracker so you’ll be on top of your game until your goal deadline.
It even helps you label your goals according to domains such as spiritual, intellectual, and financial, among many other tick boxes.
For functionality, this planner would win hands down in my opinion as it ticks almost all of the boxes from what I want from a planner.
However, despite its well-intentioned layout, it fails incredibly in the value department. I find it too expensive for a three-month motivational saga, let alone a whole year of journaling.
This and the fact that you would actually be better off with a lined journal that you can personally label makes it hard for me to want to keep buying this planner every 90 days.
As can be expected from an author who turned out to also be an artist, My Shining Year is a reimagined business review journal that helps you evaluate your entrepreneurial performance minus the overwhelming need for figures and conventional details.
It uses creative illustrations to explain what particular pages are meant for, as well as it includes comprehensible instructions for filling out the blank spaces and answering prompts.
A year from now, you’ll look back at what you’ve written in it like an annual business review, only there’s no boring stuff to dampen your mood.
You’ll be asked to write a goal checklist here and there, and also summarize your business progress every month until you’ve completed the year.
It also helps you visualize your goals through illustrated graphics.
This is definitely a must-have for women who want to do away with the chilly vibes of conventional planners.
I used both the business and the life Shining Year Workbooks at the start of the year, and really enjoyed the process.
It is a workbook that you only use once as a planning process and doesn’t have a date based planner in there.
However, it’s such fun that I highly recommend that you grab one of these to use once a year in addition to your regular goal planner.
It gives off an impression of a cheaper Moleskine diary, except that the leatherette (vegan faux leather) cover does a good job in making it look presentable and sturdy.
Your yearly goals, affirmations, and gratitude list can be found on the first few pages.
Hence, they get the first attention upon using the planner at the beginning of each day, instead of cramming them up in your weekly goal spreads.
It looks structured that anyone could easily figure out and benefit from it. The weekly views are undated, so you could start any day of the year.
Plus, it comes with over 60 blank pages at the back for free-form journaling, which I find handy whenever I want to add more bullet lists and draw diagrams/trackers.
The only downside, which I don’t find to be a big deal, is that it favors users who like to write everything concisely. Meaning, if you enjoy writing longer and more detailed, the Simple Elephant planner may not be the one for you.
Indeed, with its two-part layout featuring a “crash course” and an actual planner, one can get crazy about achieving his dream and tackling his goals in a good way.
The crash course part contains info and guides on how you can fill up the writing pages, which saves you the headache of having to figure your way around the planner.
I find the layout of the planner to be ideal for breaking down goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Even the daily spreads are further broken down into “morning prep” and “evening review”, which makes you totally accountable for the actions you did on a particular day.
Although I hate to exhaust all the pages because the planner is only good for 90 days, my only consolation is that they are undated so it doesn’t bind you to a particular time frame. You can set the start date the way you see fit.
Still, it gives you ample space in the weekly spread to write down your reflections. It allows you to look back on your last month’s triumphs, which I find oddly satisfying and further motivating.
In its daily spread, it also helps you to block out time for the day’s agenda, which you could use as a to-do list interchangeably.
Personally, I like its “Balance Bar” feature that uses cute icons you can tick off to specify an aspect of your life that you want to work more on.
Just like the ones I’ve used that only lasted for 3 months, I think this can benefit the most those who have specific SMART goals within that limited time frame.
Although buying three more copies to complete a year can be an option, I suggest you try it out for the first three months and see if the system works for you.
And yes, five years’ worth of goal-setting starting from 2020 to 2024.
Although it saves you the trouble of buying annual planners, I think the binding should have been considered if we expect it to last long. It’s in paperback, which might compromise the cover due to overuse.
Otherwise, it’s a good way of keeping annual goals in one neat place, especially if you find yourself itching to reference back to your previous goals and notes.
Still, I think it could use a comprehensive goal-setting system since it looks to me just like an ordinary bulky organizer. It’s nice to have some blank pages for note-taking, though, so you can still personalize the empty spaces.
Ignited Life prompts you to map out and list your goals, and even encourages you to set a time frame for each, such that you can identify specific goals for year 1 up to year 5.
It feels good to be asked the “Why” for each goal I’ve written since it reminds me of the reason why I was eager to achieve it.
I recommend this undated planner to those who are big fans of lists because there’s a lot to jot down, and those who also want to keep track of their habits through printable stickers.
It has dedicated undated pages for writing daily affirmations, gratitude lists, reflections, and of course, the action plan to achieve your goals.
My only complaint about this hardcover planner is that it doesn’t lay flat, which makes you adjust your hand position when writing, although it is durable and you don’t need to worry about pages falling apart.
I give this another plus for its compact size that fits in the bag.
Coming from an online brand-building publisher, it’s only expected to have such an in-depth explanation to come before the actual planner pages. Bonus points for its 10 free e-books which you can claim using a link found inside.
This planner lets you write down your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals, forcing you to remain productive day in and day out. Additionally, it contains over 60 quotes to inspire you all the way.
I recommend this one if you don’t feel the need to lug around a planner wherever you go as it is bigger than the average daily planner.
Content-wise, it is structured well but still leaves room for free-form journaling and creativity. You can personalize a few pages to your liking either by sketching or doing mind maps.
It offers both weekly goal spreads and recap pages so you can stay on track towards achieving them.
But what gets my attention is this “Wheel of Life” illustration where you can write down specific goals for each aspect of your life like family, business, and health. Indeed, it’s a well-rounded strategy for keeping that work-life balance.
However, it’s only good for 3 months (12-week worth of journaling), which is why I only recommend it for people who want to achieve short-term goals in such a short time frame.
It claims to have been using a system based on positive psychology and new studies, and I find it useful through the features such as Positive Habit Tracker, Daily Planning and Reflection pages.
I also love the layout where the evening recaps are on the next adjacent page of the morning. It saves time having to refer back to the tasks you achieved that day for reflection.
Again, as much as I’d love to use up a year’s worth of goal-setting, this one only comes with three month’s worth of journaling pages. So unless you’re only focusing on one single goal, this isn’t the planner for you.
Given that you might need to write down more biz-related notes, this pro planner is just the right size to fulfill your space needs.
The contents related to goal-setting includes areas called “Awareness & Self Discovery”, “Vision Board”, “Goal Setting Section” and “Daily Rituals”, among many others that I find useful.
Also, it leaves plenty of blank and grid pages for when you want to further DIY your bullet lists and trackers.
However, what I didn’t like about this planner is its non-compact size since I might use it while traveling on business-related trips.
My husband bought this planner for himself and he loves it. It suits his needs, but I feel the need for something a bit more complex.
It also has a habit tracker, which I find handy because I’ll no longer need to personally make one each day for the next 6 months unless I have to.
Plus, it has a separate planner guide that newbies may find useful for plotting their goals in the actual writing pages.
Unless you’re creative, you might think the few blank pages could have been dedicated to another six month’s worth of journaling to make it a standalone annual planner.
That said, I still recommend this for its straightforward approach to goal-setting.
If you’re like most people who seem to abandon their plans and bucket lists halfway through the year, then getting this 12-week planner is the right choice for you to try your luck first in achieving short-term goals.
It includes spaces for writing your mission statement and sketching your vision board, aside from attitude and habit reviews, which inspires you to be honest about yourself and your aspirations.
But what I like most about this is its SMARTER goal approachーadding “E-valuate” and “R-evisable” to the SMART acronym so you can reflect and make necessary alterations that will produce desired results.
It also trains your mind to come up with mantras to inspire your goal-setting and also asks you about your outlook for the upcoming weeks.
I like that it is wire-bound and you can flip the pages all the way without making them fall apart.
However, my only concern is that it leaves little space for planning the weekends. It might not be practical for those whose schedules and agendas extend through Saturdays and Sundays or those who have different tasks for each weekend date.
I also believe that progress can be visible within roughly 3 months of goal-setting.
I like this journal-planner because of its summer-inspired hue that makes it a good journal companion for women.
But I loved it more for its lengthy yet noteworthy 47-page introduction on how to fill the planner pages and set my goals. It has useful tips, which makes it sound like a workbook.
Again, this is a hundred day’s worth of planner pages, so you might want to consider other planners if you intend to work on long-term goals.
My 3 most favorite planners are starting off with the Shining Business Workbook, then either choosing the Law Of Attraction Planner for an abundant experience, or the Full Focus Planner for those who are very serious about their goal achievement.
Now that you’ve got everything you need to get your mind in the right place for success with your goals, you might be looking for the right tools to set your goals and actually achieve them? I have a free gift for you that you’re going to love. For a limited time, I am giving away the planner that I use to set goals for my six-figure blog.
Now that we’ve rounded up 20 of the best goal planners in the market, I’m sure you can’t wait to start scribbling down your thoughts and plans related to achieving your goals.
With a variety of planners ranging from style, length of use, quality, and formatting, you’ll never run out of options when shopping for a good one to use right away.
Just remember that while an actual planner documents your intentions and action plan, it’s still you who can make everything materialize as you’ve envisioned it.
Goal setting is a massive passion of mine, and I have many more posts and videos to help you reach your goals so stick around and see what else I can help you with by checking out the links below.
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