How to Set SMART Goals and Actually Achieve Them

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how to set smart goals

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I hate to break it to you, but setting and accomplishing goals isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be crushing goals every single day.

Setting and accomplishing goals is actually what sets successful people apart from everyone else. But remember it’s not easy and requires a lot of work.

Don’t worry though, cause I’m here to help you break it down into some actionable steps, use the SMART goal-setting strategy.

Let’s get started.

the ultimate guide to goal setting - smart goals

Evaluate Your Situation

Before you can even begin to set goals, you need to take some time to reflect on your past and present situation. Many people will skip this step, but it is crucial in order to make sure you are setting goals that you truly care about.

Before you start, take a moment to assess your strengths, weaknesses, past lessons learned, current limiting beliefs, mental and physical roadblocks, etc. Go through all of these to help you get in touch with your “why”.

This will offer you some clarity, better understanding, more motivation, and give you a sense of what it will actually take to set and achieve a goal you personally set for yourself.

Think of it as a personal meeting with yourself to evaluate all the things we discussed above. You need to know what has worked in the past and what hasn’t in order to get an idea of what next steps to take.

Determine What Type of Goal(s) to Set

You can set goals in every area of your life.

For example:

  • Career Goals (career change, career development, getting a promotion)
  • Financial goals (get out of debt, save $$ for an emergency fund)
  • Personal goals (create a morning routine, get in the habit of brain dumping every day)
  • Health goals (lose 10 lbs, run a half-marathon, eat more fruits and veggies)
  • Business goals (get first paying client, scale your business, post more to social media)

I highly recommend you only focus on a maximum of two goals at a time.


Because it’s extremely hard to focus on more than two big projects at once. 

Remember in high school or college when you would have so many final projects and tests to complete before the end of the semester and you were super stressed. You probably didn’t like that before so why do it to yourself as an adult.

You get to make your own path for success, so don’t stress yourself out.

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Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Now that you’ve evaluated your situation and determined what type of goal you want to set, the next step is to actually set your goals. There are many ways to do this. But I’m gonna teach you the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting strategy.

S = Specific

Your goal needs to be specific. The more specific you are and the more you understand it, the clearer and more manageable it will be to accomplish.

The number one reason many people fail to complete their goals is that they aren’t specific enough with what they actually want.

Let me give you some examples of vague non-specific goals:

  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to get in shape
  • I want to eat healthier

These are flat goals with no idea of what the endpoint is. When trying to make your goal specific, ask yourself questions using what, who, why, where, when, how much, and how often.

Using our examples above, you could ask yourself:

  • How much weight do I want to lose?
  • Why do I want to be in better shape?
  • How often will I workout every week?

M = Measurable

The next step in setting SMART goals is to make the goal measurable.

Goals need to be measurable so you are able to track your progress over time and evaluate what is and isn’t working. Try using numbers or concrete targets whenever possible.

For example, instead of saying I want to lose weight, set your goal to lose x number of lbs by the end of the month.

A = Attainable (and Actionable)

Many people will encourage you to aim high and set goals that may be out of your comfort zone. That is awesome advice but you also need to make sure your goals are attainable in the time frame you set.

This helps prevent getting overwhelmed when the deadline is coming up and you are still so far from your goal. Instead, you could break your goal up into small, consistent, and actionable steps.

This is where it’s a good idea to incorporate your actionable steps into your daily, weekly, and monthly routines to make sure you are always moving the needle. 

You are also more likely to stay motivated because you can always see the needle moving.

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R = Relevant

Goals need to be in line with YOUR core values and be relevant to YOUR life, not to society, or to your parents.

When you set relevant goals, you can make sure you are always making progress towards who YOU want to be, where YOU want to be, and what YOU want to accomplish. Not what others think is good for you.

This is also where I would suggest that if you chose to work on two goals at once, make sure the two goals are related to each other. This will keep you from getting distracted and pulled in different directions.

T = Time-Bound

In order to truly turn a dream into a goal, you need to have a sense of urgency.

That’s where the T in SMART goals comes in. You must make your goals Time-Bound (or time-sensitive).

Making a deadline to complete your goal by a certain date helps prevent procrastination and create a sense of urgency.

Use deadlines like 7 days, one month, or 90 days. These are the most common time-frames people use for their goals.

How to Take Action on Your SMART Goals

Now that you have your goal and it’s set up as a SMART goal, it’s time to create an action plan.

There are many ways to do this, but here is how I recommend you do it:

1. Write it down

Have your goals written down and posted somewhere you can see them every day. Having your goal actually written down on paper helps clarify and strengthen your intentions.

And by having your goal posted somewhere you’ll see it every day, helps remind yourself to stay focused and avoid distractions.

2. Break it down

Next, you should break down your goals into easy, simple, and manageable action steps.

This is when you would determine some habits to include in your daily, weekly, and monthly routines.

Small steps and micro-habits help with keeping up momentum and avoiding procrastination.


How to Build New Habits with these 8 Simple Steps

What Is A Routine? Why Are Routines Important?

3. Hold Yourself Accountable

Remember, these are YOUR goals, no one else can do them for you so it’s up to you to develop some self-discipline and stay focused.

Here are some ways to keep yourself accountable:

  • Post your goals on social media
  • Tell a friend about your goal
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Hire a coach to help guide you

Another idea that helps me a lot is to assign consequences for when you aren’t reaching certain milestones. You don’t want to beat yourself up about it, instead, use it to motivate you. You could have to donate money to a charity you don’t like or say you’ll do someone else’s chores for a month.

4. Reward Yourself

Going along with assigning consequences, you should always have a reward system. Set up a way to reward yourself when you reach certain milestones. This will not only help you recognize that you did a good job but will also help set you up to accomplish more because you want the reward.

Some examples I use are:

  • Going to my favorite coffee shop
  • Buy a new book I want
  • Put money towards a vacation

Ready to dive deeper into goal setting in 2022? Check out the Slay Your Goals Planner to start planning for a goal-crushing year.

Final Thoughts

Remember the most successful people set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. By following the SMART goal-setting strategy and then making an action plan, you’ll start crushing goals so much faster.

Remember though that everyone fails at one point in their life, but the most successful people don’t let that stop them. Pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, and continue to strive to create the life of your dreams.

What goals are you currently working on? I’d love to know and cheer you on. Let me know in the comments below.

smart goals 101 - setting goals you'll actually achieve

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Hey, I'm Alyssa

Early Morning Bad*ss, Personal Development Enthusiast and Productivity Addict

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