How to Set Goals That Won’t Fail

If you’re like me, the new year is a great time to set goals! When you are trying to balance building a business and managing a home, planning is an integral part of being successful. When you take the time to set goals, you can make a plan about what things you want to accomplish and the path you will follow to get there. Keep reading to find out how to set goals and make sure those goals won’t fail! 

Since this post is a tutorial of how to set goals, I created a planner to help you out with the process. I recommend that you download the planner, read through the complete post, and then work through the planner. It walks you through the steps to make setting and achieving goals easy. Plus, you can print off as many copies of the planner as you need to set goals for your home and business.

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Set goals that are SMART

While there are different types of goals that you can set, my favorite goals are SMART goals. That might be because I’m a teacher, and those are the types of goals I’ve always had to make for my students and myself. Plus, it has a great acronym to make sure you include all of the necessary information when you set your goals.

SMART goals are SPECIFIC: Make sure your goal focuses on a specific thing. Goals that are too broad or general are a lot more likely to fail.

  • The goal to monetize a blog is too vague. The goal to create an online course to earn money is much more specific!

SMART goals are MEASURABLE: A good goal should provide a way to measure that the goal has been reached. It is much easier to make a plan for a goal that uses a specific number or percentage than one that uses subjective words.

  • A goal that states I will post on LinkedIn at least four times a week is measurable, while a goal that says I will post consistently is not as measurable. Posting once a month (or never) is consistent, but it won’t really help your business!

SMART Goals are ATTAINABLE: To set goals that won’t fail, you have to make sure that your goals are reasonable. While it’s good to have goals that challenge you, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.

  • As a new business owner who has made less than $10 from affiliates so far, a goal of making six-figures next month in affiliate sales is not attainable. A more attainable goal that might actually happen is that I make $25 in affiliate sales next month.

** Making a goal attainable does NOT mean that you aren’t making a big goal for your business. It’s important that your goal stretches you and helps you grow your business or improve your situation, but it should be reasonable, either in the size of the goal or the time you set to achieve it.

SMART goals are RELEVANT: When you set goals, it’s important that they relate to who you are and what you do. If they don’t, they are a lot more likely to fail.

  • I might have a dream to perform on Broadway, but that isn’t relevant to my life as a business owner or as a mom. If this were something that I was especially passionate about and that I wanted to devote time to pursuing, then it could be a VERY long-term goal, but it is not relevant to what I want to focus on now. 

SMART goals are TIME-BOUND: When you set goals, they are much more successful if you have a set deadline. Whether you use a specific date by which you want to reach your goal or a time frame within which you want to complete your plan, you have created a goal that is time-bound. And make sure your time frame matches the goal!

  • You can add time frames that are daily, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Any of those work!

After you’ve identified each part of your SMART goal, write a goal that is easy to understand and makes sense for you.

An example of how to set SMART goals

SPECIFIC Monetize my blog with digital products
MEASURABLE1 printable product
ATTAINABLEI know how to create printable products and I have some time to create
RELEVANTPinterest product (I know Pinterest and do Pinterest management)
TIME-BOUNDEach quarter in 2019

Final goal: During each quarter in 2019, I will create one Pinterest-related digital product to sell on the May Virtual Assists’ website.

Create an action plan

Once you’ve made your SMART goal, it’s time to make a plan on how you’ll achieve your goal! Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” I had heard that quote before, but I never really thought about it until I started to set goals for my students and then for my business. Making a goal without having an action plan is like knowing where you want to go, but not knowing how to get there. You’ll spend a lot of extra time and effort to get to your destination and will probably end up lost!
[bctt tweet=”Making a goal without having an action plan is like knowing where you want to go, but not knowing how to get there. You’ll spend a lot of extra time and effort to get to your destination and will probably end up lost!” username=”mvirtualassists”]

What is an action plan?

If you aren’t familiar with what an action plan is, it has the actionable steps that you should take to reach your goal. These steps are small, concrete steps that follow the specific path you plan to take to reach the goal.
While a goal on its own can still feel a little overwhelming, the action plan is broken down in such a way that you can easily complete each step. It’s like the to-do list you need to finish to achieve your goal!

How do you create an action plan?

While an action plan is not difficult to create, it does take thought and practice. Of course, if you spend time planning your route beforehand, you save time later because you won’t end up wasting time and effort on actions that don’t help you achieve your goal.
To create an action plan:

  • Identify all of the concrete steps you need to complete on your way to achieving your goal.
  • Break each of those steps into smaller sub-steps, if needed.
  • Put these steps in the order they need to be completed. 
  • Assign due dates to the steps that will help you complete the plan in the timeframe given in your SMART goal.

When I’m making my action plan, I love mind maps to lay out the path for the steps. While I’m all about the Trello for completing the steps, I need more flexibility in laying out my plan. And I like to save my map to the cloud, so I create it online.

There are many amazing, free mind-mapping programs online, but I really like Sketchboard. It connects to Google Drive, and you can add people to your team with their email addresses. It has many extra features, but I use it solely for mind-mapping right now.
Below is an example of the map I created for my SMART goal above. Since I plan to repeat the process in each quarter, I identified the week of the quarter that the step needs to be completed.
mind map to show the action plan for Creating a Pinterest-related product

How do you execute the action plan?

Once you’ve created the plan, you’ve got to just do it! To help complete the action tips, I added each step to a card on the Upcoming Items list on my weekly Trello Board (Use the link to grab the board!) with a due date. Because I have the calendar power-up for that board, they are automatically added to my Google calendar. When I see those due dates on the calendar, it helps me stay on task to accomplish them.

I also print out my plan, so I have a hard copy of what I need to do to accomplish my goals. That hard copy stays posted by my desk, and I can check it regularly. After I complete my tasks, I check it off on my plan. I love checking things off, so that adds extra motivation to get it done! 

Reflect on your goal

After you finish your action plan, it’s important to reflect on your goal and your action plan. Did you complete the plan? Did you achieve your goal? What worked from your plan? What didn’t? Do you need to revise your plan to include different steps? Do you need a new time frame for your goal? Do you need to make a new plan or a new goal?

As you reflect, be sure to take the time to celebrate the steps you accomplished and the goals you reached.

And, if you didn’t achieve your goal this time, that’s ok. You can make a new plan, set a new time frame, and try it again. As long as you don’t give up on working your plan, you’ll get there eventually!

Recap of how to set goals

In case you skimmed and missed the steps of  how to set SMART goals that won’t fail, here’s a recap for you:

  • Set goals that are SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-bound
  • Create an action plan that contains the specific steps you need to take to achieve the goal you set. Assign due dates to each so you can complete your goal in the time frame you set.
  • Execute your action plan by adding the steps and due dates to your planner and complete the steps. You’ve got this!
  • Reflect on your goal and your plan throughout the process and after you reach your goal. Identify things that worked or didn’t work and make adjustments as needed.

Now it’s your turn! Don’t forget to download your planner and use it to set goals for your home and business.  


After you’ve created your goals, please share them with me on the May Virtual Assists’ Facebook page or in an email. I can’t wait to see what goals you come up with for your businesses and homes!

Have a great time planning your goals for 2019!

owner name with logo, website, and tagline for May Virtual Assists

Need more tips on being productive? Check out this post on maximizing productivity!

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