5 steps to SMART goals and how to actually achieve them

5 steps to SMART goal setting and how to actually achieve them: Want to learn how to achieve your goals and not just write some airy fairy goals and then becoming disillusioned and completely forgetting about your goals? Click through to follow the 5 steps and learn how to really think through, nut out your SMART goals and learn the simple step-by-step strategies to actually achieve them!

Happy 2016 Nerd Burgers!

It’s been a while since the last post here… and it’s easy for me to see why. My schedule towards the end of last year was completely overloaded. I was stressed because my cutlery project was taking waaaay longer than expected and eating into my time allocated for my statement earrings project, I had custom orders I needed to wrap up, and tie up some other loose ends before I went overseas to Taiwan for 2.5 weeks and I was getting burnt out from it all. I didn’t have a plan in place for my blogs. I had no structure – so when life threw me too many juggling balls, I couldn’t cope and dropped them all.

I skyped with my mentor when I arrived in Taiwan and she reminded me of some important things I had forgotten. I felt guilty that I wasn’t “doing enough” for my business but I knew I needed to recharge. I had so many airy fairy ideas but I had no real strategy and I knew I needed to refocus. I knew I needed a break and I needed to know it was OK to give myself permission to have a break. As a small business owner, the biggest asset of my business is me. If I don’t look after myself, there’d be no way my business would be sustainable or even grow! So that’s exactly what I did. I gave myself permission to take care of myself and not work on the business during my holiday. (It was a fan-freaking-tabulous holiday!)

So with 2016 just around the corner, I knew I needed to change. I needed to be serious about achieving my goals and not just write some airy fairy goals at the beginning of the year and then becoming disillusioned and disorganised and completely forgetting about my goals a month or two into the year.

Before we go through the 5 steps, grab some pen and paper (or your favourite notebook) and set aside some quiet, uninterrupted time to really think through and nut out your SMART goals.

The 5 SMART goal setting steps (and a free goal setting printable!)

  1. Make a list of three areas in your life and business where you need clarity. Don’t be afraid to think big! So for our example, let’s say: My goal is to organise a holiday for 2 people to Barcelona, Paris and London for 3 weeks in December.
  2. The problem with big dreams is that sometimes it’s difficult to fathom how we can actually achieve them. It’s easy to write down your goal of earning 6 figures by the end of the year, forgetting about this and not taking active steps towards achieving it.
    • List 5-10 SMART* goals you want to achieve this year in the areas you identified in step 1. (1 goal per page) (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) In our holiday example:
      • Specific – what exactly do I want to happen?
      • Measurable – I will know I have achieved this when…?
      • Achievable – Is this goal a stretch goal, but not too much of a stretch that it’s not achievable?
      • Realistic – Are you willing and able to work towards achieving this?
      • Timely – Whats the time period in which I have to achieve this?


Download the FREE SMART Goal Setting Printable!

Get the simple printable template to break down your SMART goals into smaller, achievable tasks!


3. Break down your SMART goals: In order to reach your SMART goals, you just need to take the next action, then the next. When you think about your SMART goals, break them down into bite-size chunks until you have gone the whole distance. This way you have a tree of SMART goals and at the very end, you have a carefully planned path of ‘mini actionable steps’ that you consistently take to achieve your dream!

SMART goal setting holiday example

  • Book return air tickets from Sydney to London
    • Research and compare prices for proposed travel dates through online travel websites/travel agents
      • Visit Expedia and check air ticket prices
      • Visit Student flights and check air ticket prices etc.
    • Decide on the exact dates and book flight
  • Organise Eurostar tickets from London to Paris
    • (Break down into smaller tasks) etc
  • Organise flights from Paris to Barcelona etc
    • (Break down into smaller tasks) etc
  • Organise flights from Barcelona to London etc
    • (Break down into smaller tasks) etc
  • Organise accommodation in London, Paris & Barcelona
    • Research areas you want to stay
      • Research 10th arrondissement
      • Research 7th arrondissement etc.
    • Research and compare prices of hotels/hostels/AirBnB etc
      • Visit AirBnB website and search for apartments in 10th arrondissement etc.
  • Research things to do/see in London, Paris & Barcelona etc.
  • Research places to eat in London, Paris & Barcelona etc.
  • Exchange some AUD into Euros and Pounds etc.

The idea of breaking these milestones into smaller and very specific tasks means you’ll know exactly what to do. If you keep taking these mini steps, you’ll be slowly working towards achieving your goal. Make it ridiculously easy for yourself! So even if you miss a day, you’ll know exactly where you left off and what you need to do next. You’ll start feeling happy when you’re succeeding in crossing these little tasks off and this will help you maintain forward momentum to keep working towards achieving your final milestone!

[bctt tweet=”Breaking milestones into smaller and very specific tasks means you’ll know exactly what to do.”]


4. Organise these smaller goals and mini steps into your calendar: If you’re like most people, if it doesn’t get on your calendar, it doesn’t get done. You won’t accomplish your goals in the “leftover time”, because most of us don’t have any.

  • E.g. Complete research and book all flights and train by 15 August
    • Complete research and book accommodation by 30 September
    • Research things to do/see/eat and put in spreadsheet/Word document by 15 November etc.


5. Maintain forward momentum & celebrate your wins: Each action you take builds momentum toward your goal. I recommend that you schedule time to work on your goals. After you’ve set up your goal tree, mark out specific goals that are particularly important as milestones. Once you’ve achieved these milestones, celebrate and reward yourself for the work you’ve done so far otherwise you’ll lose energy and motivation to keep going and reach the finish line.

So I didn’t manage to achieve my SMART dream goal… what happens now?

It’s OK! Really! Even Bruce Lee says so:

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

The progress you’ve made towards your dream goal is something you should be proud of. You’ve learnt many lessons along the way. You’ve connected with your customers and provided value to them. You’ve made a bunch of cool business friends and it’s been an awesome experience.

Whatever you want to achieve, never be afraid to map it out and break it down and work towards them! I have a freebie SMART goal setting worksheet for you! I know it’s now February, so if you haven’t yet set your 2016 goals, now is the best time to do it! Or if you’ve already set up your goals, revisit them if they’re not as clear or actionable as they could be.

P.S. I’d love to hear what sort of SMART goals you’re aiming for this year and your plan on how you’re going to achieve it! Share with other nerd burgers what your 2016 goals are in the comments below!

Download the FREE SMART Goal Setting Printable!

Get the simple printable template to break down your SMART goals into smaller, achievable tasks!


Hello! I'm Monica

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Monica is a corporate cubical escape artist turned jewellery maker, designer and creative business infopreneur. She helps fellow artists, designers and makers launch and grow a handmade business they love.
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