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How an Activity Audit Could Save Your Goals

A black notebook sits on a white table. There is a magnifying glass and pencil on either side of the notebook.


How often do you review your progress toward your goals?

It's important to regularly revisit your goals to see what’s working, what’s not working, and recalibrate if necessary.

If you find that you are not making as much progress as you’d like, it’s time to look at the kinds of activities you’ve been working on in your goal journey.

Specifically, how much time you’ve spent working on backward-facing tasks instead of forward-facing tasks.

In my mind, I picture it as if you are standing in front of your goal. When you are engaged in backward-facing activities, you have your back to your goal. It’s there, but you aren’t focused entirely on it. Forward-facing tasks have you looking at your goal head-on.

Backward-Facing Tasks

Let me explain more…

Backward-facing tasks are those things that we do that support our goal journey, but in a very indirect way. They usually come naturally to us so they don’t involve a lot of effort, yet they ‘feel’ busy. 

The issue with backward-facing tasks is that they don’t move the needle very far on our progress, compared to how much time they take.

Examples of backward-facing activities include researching, commenting, reviewing, revising, adjusting, and gathering feedback.

Backward-facing activities are our Comfort Cave. But if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we won’t ever get different results.

Forward-Facing Tasks

Forward-facing tasks, on the other hand, are your needle movers. 

They are the things that we do that have a sizeable impact on our progress. 

They involve taking results-focused action and because taking action can be scary, they also carry a certain degree of discomfort that makes us want to avoid them.

Examples of forward-facing activities include sales conversations, prospecting, networking, writing, and cold calling.

There is more risk involved with forward-facing activities, but there is also the potential for more progress and more reward.

Balance is Best

When I work with a client who feels like they aren’t making much progress on a goal, it’s usually because they spend a majority of their time in backward-facing activities.

But because backward-facing activities feel productive and these productive feelings lead us to think we are making progress, we aren’t measuring the right results. We are measuring the amount of things that we get done, not if they contributed to our bottom line.

So if you look back at your month and see that you’ve been very busy with your goal, but haven’t made much noticeable progress, it’s time to do an Activity Audit.

Do an Activity Audit

Look at your calendar and your to-do list.

What are they showing you?

Are the things you do every day making waves or just splashes?

What percentage of your time is spent completing activities that are outside of your Comfort Cave and making progress toward your goals?

Be honest and don't feel the need to justify or make excuses. You are just gathering data here so you can determine what changes you need to make.

Next, identify three things that you want to do in the coming month that will move the needle. Three forward-facing activities. Just three. 

Schedule them in.

Set a deadline.

Make an accountability plan and hold yourself to it.

It’s nice to feel ‘busy,’ but don’t confuse “busy” with progress.

If you aren't making adequate progress toward your goals, it's time to take a look at the activities that are taking your time to make sure that they are paying off.

Need help with your Activity Audit? Join us in The Goal Getters Club here.

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Jen Laffin wearing a brightly flowered dress, glasses, smiling at the camera

Jen Laffin is an Accountability & Success Mentor for people who like to finish big goals, a master teacher, host of The Flight School Podcast, a possible thinker, and a recovering procrastinator. She helps goal-SETTERS become goal-GETTERS. To learn more, visit, or find Jen on Linkedin.


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