Throw out your SMART Goals! How to Set Goals in 4 Easy Steps!

Picture of 6 notes with words Set Goal, Make Plan, Get To Work, Stick to It, Reach Goal, Good job!

January 1st, 2021. The perfect time to set goals. It symbolizes a new beginning…a fresh start…a time to start over. The perfect time to set goals.


Although prior studies about goal setting leading to success seem to be Urban Legends, I still believe that having a goal and striving for it will make you more successful and well rounded. 

How many times have you set the same goal and never achieved it?

I’m guilty of this. For the past 4 years, my goal was to learn how to speak French. I’ve even posted it on LinkedIn so I can be held accountable. My problem was that I didn’t have the time it took to learn French.


I realized that I was not setting a realistic goal. I want to retire in France someday, so I need to learn the language. But, right now, with work and family, it is just not something that is realistic. I was truly motivated by my goal, but it did not fit in with my “right now” timeline.


Everyone sets SMART goals. I did too. When I was done, I had a pretty word document that checked all the boxes (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound). But it was a document that sat in a notebook for the rest of the year.

Throw out your SMART Goals and try this Instead

This year let’s set goals that work!  If you spend some time going through the next 4 steps you will not only come out with a pretty word document, but one that will work!


  1. Set Goals That Motivate You


If you’re not motivated by the goal you’ve set, will you stick with it? No.


Your goal must be important to you. Something that will move you forward in life or be helpful to you in some way.  What do you really want to achieve? Where do you really want to be in life or in your career?


Make a list. Put the items on the list in order of importance. Sleep on this list and then go back to it and make any changes.


2.  Set Goals That Fit Into Your “Right Now”


Is the goal at the top of your list important enough to you to fit into the life you have right now? One of the biggest reasons that people fail at goals is that they do not have the time to commit to the goal.


Think about it, do you really have the time right now to commit to the goal at the top of your list. If not, go back to Step #1.


  1. Create Smaller Actionable Items


Now is the time to break your goal down into smaller actionable tasks. You would not decide on Sunday that you are going to run a marathon on Monday. Right? It just would not work.


Most likely this will require another list. Write down all of the action items that you will need to complete to accomplish this goal. What do you need to do first? Order the list from there.  Set the timeline on when you want to have each action item done.


  1. Find the Time


Congratulations on completing the first 3 steps! Now, you need to figure out when you will “work” on your goal.


The most common thing is to get up earlier in the morning to add time to your day. If you have tried and failed at this before, maybe it is time to pick another time.


Note, what ever you pick, make sure you consistently do it every day for 66 days for a good habit to form! 


Do NOT be Too Hard on Yourself

No one is perfect. You may sleep in one day and not work out. You may not be able to get a meeting with your boss for a few weeks. That is ok. Just keep moving forward and don’t give up.


If you set a goal that is truly important to you right now, then do it no matter how many times you mess up!


Don’t forget to celebrate your goal once you’ve achieved it! Celebrate and then go set another goal to accomplish!

Final note on SMART Goals

SMART goals do provide some good basics. You DO want to write the goal down and you DO want to have a specific goal. But DO NOT get so caught up in writing the goal that you don’t start achieving your goal!


For more information on SMART Goals, check out this article from



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For almost two decades, The Resource Link has strategically placed Accounting & Finance talent with some of the best companies in Arizona! We consult with our hiring managers and candidates to dive into the best solutions and outcomes and we provide advice and feedback along the way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or just pick up the phone! We would love to hear from you to help you build the best team or find the best career.



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Bernadette Grattan, founder of The Resource Link

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