How To Create Smart Goals That You’ll Actually Stick To

We’re at that point in the year where lots of us are beginning to think seriously about how to set goals and achieve them.

Whether you set your 2019 goals while riding a high on the thoughts of new beginnings, or protested against them because you knew you wouldn’t keep to them, we all know that goals can be useful.

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about setting smart goals that we can actually work towards. I know I set blogging goals at the start of January, but it’s only now that I start really thinking about my personal goals.

It was actually the thought of writing down my personal goals that got me thinking about smart goals, a method I discovered a few years ago. I knew I wasn’t the only one who would find this method useful, so I thought I’d take today to share what I’ve learnt with you.

Smart goals are extremely important when it comes to achieving what you set out to do. After all, working out how to set goals and achieve them isn't an easy job. Here is the smart goals method, that can really help you with your plans to get things done in 2019.

What are goals, and why do we make them? 

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but goals are things we set when we are envisioning achieving something in the future. I like to think of them as dreams with a purpose, as the whole point of goals is to put the effort in to achieve a desired outcome.
People create goals for a variety of different reasons.
I like to create goals so that I know what I am striving towards at all times. They give me the motivation to continue making new targets so that I can achieve my goal as quickly as possible. Personally, I know that I don’t do well when I don’t know why I’m doing something, so this really works for me.
Other people set goals to push their boundaries, and test just how much they can achieve. If these are achievable goals, then this is absolutely fine, but it’s important to make sure you aren’t making goals that are so out of reach you’ll lose motivation before you’ve even begun.
If you have a different reason for setting goals that I haven’t touched upon here, why not tell me about it in the comments below?

The Smart Goal Method 

If you search for how to set goals and achieve them, you’ll probably find a million different methods that have varying levels of effectiveness. It’s important to remember that what works for one person might be completely pointless for someone else, after all.

If I’m being honest, I was very sceptical about setting smart goals when I first heard of them. This probably has something to do with the fact that I went over this method several times when I was in college, but let’s not dwell on that.

Despite my initial reluctance to engage with this method, however, I am now completely in love with the idea. My goals have become so much more achievable since I put the effort into thinking about how I was going to achieve my goals when I first made them.

What Are Smart Goals? 

The most important thing you need to know about the smart goals method is that it is completely based on an anagram. It takes the word smart, and uses each letter to explain how you must analyse your goals to make sure they are achievable.

You might think setting smart goals sounds extremely complicated, but it’s not that difficult. In fact, you might realise that you’ve already been implementing parts of this method without realising it!

The beauty of this method is that, with it being an anagram, it’s quite easy to remember. This means you will be able to use the method again in the future!

Let’s look in more detail about what each of the five words within this method mean, and how you can implement them.

[ID: 'The Smart Goals' method written in white, with five light purple circles underneath, with 'specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed' in each one.]

Specific

The key to making achievable goals is to know exactly what you want to achieve, which is where the specifics come in. You want to make sure that someone who may not know you very well could understand your goal if you showed it to them.

Let’s take one of the goals from my blogging goals post that isn’t specific. I said that I wanted to create a proper marketing strategy for my blog this year.

I could make this more specific by saying, “I want to gain a better understanding of marketing for bloggers so that I can create a marketing strategy that will help me grow my blog”.

By revising the goal I made earlier, I have now answered the following questions: 

  • What exactly do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is my goal important?
  • What resources do I need to use to achieve this goal?

Why don’t you take a look at your current goals for 2019 and see if you can use the method above to change one or your goals into a smart goal, too?

Measurable 

Another thing you need to think about when making achievable goals is how you are going to measure when you have successfully met your goal. To put it simply, words like ‘more’ won’t work when setting smart goals.

By doing this, there is no confusion when it comes to completing your goal, and working out whether you’re achieved it or not.

One way that you can do this is by utilising amounts. It might seem scary to dedicate yourself to doing a certain amount of something, but it doesn’t have to be.

For example, this year I’ve said I want to write one autism-related Ebook. Ideally, I would like to write more before the end of this year, but I can always amend this goal when I achieve it originally.

Starting small is another great way of making sure that you’re creating achievable goals, and not ones that you’ll look back on in six months and realise you had no hope of achieving in the first place.

Attainable 

There’s a little bit of a dispute over what the A in smart goals actually means. I was always taught it meant attainable, but other sources also use ‘agreed upon’ and ‘achievable’. To put it simply, this part of setting smart goals is all about working out how important your goal is to you, and what you can do to make it achievable.

To succeed with this part of the method, you need to analyse whether you currently have the skills to fulfil the goal. If you don’t, you should put in place plans of how you’re going to gain said skills so that your smart goal remains achievable.

This stage of setting smart goals can help you to see if you need to adapt your goal, or change the length of time you’ve given yourself to achieve it to make it more attainable.

Realistic

When it comes to learning how to set goals and achieve them, making sure that they are realistic is one of the most important things to focus on. There’s no point in setting a goal to save a million pounds if you’re only earning thirty grand a year, for example.

Instead, why not turn that goal into a smart goal by telling yourself you’ll save three grand by the end of the year, or fifteen grand in 5 years? This may still require some cutting back, but it’s far more realistic than the previous goal.

The point in this step is to make sure that your goal is achievable, sure, but it also helps with motivation. You are going to feel so much more motivated to achieve your goal if you can see things starting to fall into place, after all.

In this stage of setting smart goals, you’ll also want to think about whether it’s realistic in terms of how much effort you’re willing to put into your goal.

If you’ve never exercised in your life, is it really a realistic to set yourself a New Years Resolution of exercising five days a week?

Like I mentioned earlier, to make achievable and realistic goals, you need to start smaller. Once you have the skills to achieve those, you can then create bigger goals.

Timed 

The final step in turning an ordinary goal into a smart goal is to make sure that it is timed. This is pretty easy if you’re making yearly goals like New Years Resolutions, but it’s easy to forget them if you aren’t.

A common thing to do when creating goals is to say, “I hope I’ll do [insert goal here] someday”. You’d be surprised by the amount of people who forget to put a time limit on it.

The biggest reason to do this when setting smart goals is so that you have an end to your goal. Goals are achievable dreams, after all, and therefore shouldn’t be something that goes on forever.

Not putting a time limit on your goal can also make it difficult to measure, and make plans for exactly how you’re going to achieve your goal.

It also makes you less likely to take action now, because open-ended goals give you the ability to put something off. It’s why, when we say we’ll “do something tomorrow”, we very rarely get around to actually doing it.

Do you have any goals for 2019? Has this post inspired you to make them more achievable? If you have any other tips for making achievable goals, why not leave them in the comments below? 

If you're over your New Years Resolutions and want to crack on with creating smart, achievable goals, this post is the one for you! With full explanations of smart goals, what they are and how they can help you, you're sure to find something useful. There are also smart goals examples, and smart goal ideas that you can use to make your next goal setting session more effective. #smartgoals #ambition #achievablegoals

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5 Questions You Must Ask Yourself When Creating Smart Goals | How To Achieve Your 2019 Goals By Making Them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time Limited | 5 Smart Goal Tips | Smart Goals | #smartgoals #achievablegoals

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42 thoughts on “How To Create Smart Goals That You’ll Actually Stick To

  1. I haven’t got any goals for the year but I always do monthly ones. I kind of follow the SMART goals without even realising it though! I always make sure they’re achievable and then you get such a good feeling when you accomplish it. Great post!

    1. I like to break my yearly ones down into monthly ones, too! It’s great to hear you were already kind of following the method without realising it! Accomplishing goals is the best feeling ever, isn’t it? Thank you so much!

  2. Honestly I loved reading this, I’m tje queen of making unrealistic goals and I really need to work on that! Thanks for sharing x

    Kayleigh Zara 💀🥀Www.kayelghzara.com

    1. Thank you, Kayleigh! I’ve definitely been guilty of making unrealistic goals in the past. I think using this as a reminder definitely helped me, too, so I’m glad you found it helpful!

  3. Oh my gosh, I never realised quite how much I needed this post in my life until now! I’m awful at setting myself way too much, then never doing anything and getting annoyed at myself. This is such a genius method, and certainly one that I am going to adopt! Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you, Lindsey; I’m glad you found it helpful! I’ve been guilty of doing the same in the past, but learning this method has been a great help. I hope adopting it helps you!

  4. I love reading organisation posts as they’re always so motivating! I’m doing my A Levels this year so smart goals are definitely needed! The big goal is get 3 A’s so I can go to the uni I want to but my smart goals at the moment are manageable revision ones! x

    eleanorclaudie.com

    1. Best of luck with your A Levels, Eleanor! I’ve just finished three years of college (why I put myself through the extra year of torture I’ll never know), and it’s so stressful at times, isn’t it? Breaking down smart goals to make them more achievable is a great way of doing it, and turning 3 A’s into revision goals is a great way of doing it.

  5. Great post! I’ve actually been incorporating SMART goals in my life for as long as I can remember. It’s realy helpful to know exactly what you want if you’re planning to get there someday! This 2019, my goal is to be bolder, braver, and more fearless when it comes to tackling all my aspirations and resolutions. Hopefully we all have an amazing year ahead of us!

    1. Thank you, Ran! It’s really interesting to hear that you’ve had SMART goals for as long as you can remember; I wish I’d known about them when I was younger! Your goals for 2019 sound amazing, so best of luck with them! Be fearless and you’ll succeed! I’m sure we’ll both have great years.

    1. I get exactly the same! I used to be terrified of making goals because I knew I’d beat myself up if I never achieved them. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. This is just what I needed to read. I made a similar post to this, but it’s always great to have this remind because it’s easy to forget sometimess. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love creating goals.. . I always go for small attainable goals, which helps me in completing them with much more ease. Excellent post on creating smart goals.

  8. These are great tips – it’s so important to be specific, otherwise how the heck do you know what you’re working towards!? 😛

    1. Thank you, Jodi! I definitely think that’s important. So many people, including myself, are guilty of just saying they’ll do “more” of something, but how do you define more?

  9. I love the ‘SMART goals’ method and have been using it for sometime now, mostly in my professional life though. I should incorporate it to my blogging as well…:) And you made such a nice explanation of how to use this system!

    1. It’s a great method, isn’t it? It’s so easy to use it in one side of your life and not the other; I’m definitely guilty of doing the same! I’m glad you liked my explanation of the method.

  10. The SMART approach is so, well, smart. I have never been good at lists or writing down goals, but I think that will change.

    1. Haha, I love that! It really is in the name, isn’t it? I’ve never been one for writing down goals in the past, either, but this method has really helped to change that.

  11. this is such a incredibly helpful post! i need to go back through and look still my goals with this mindset because i’ve never heard of this method of goal planning! thanks so much for sharing all of your knowledge on this. my first goal with this method will be to consistently be at 60k or higher monthly views on pinterest for the month of february by pinning at least 50 pins a day! x

    mich / simplymich.com

    1. Thank you, Mich! I’m glad this method helped you rethink your goals. As evidenced, I could definitely get better with this myself, haha! Best of luck with your Pinterest goal; I’m sure you can do it.

  12. I love this! I really struggle with goal setting and achieving and always best myself up if I don’t succeed so this is really helpful for me. Thanks angel 💖

  13. Wow! I love this method of goal planning! I have bookmarked this page so I can do some smart planning of my own. It’s a great way to break down goals and specifically target what you want to achieve xxx

    1. Thank you, Ashley! I’m glad you found it useful; and best of luck with your own smart planning. I agree, it’s SUCH a good way of breaking unrealistic goals down into realistic targets.

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