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5 Ways Animators Can Set SMART Goals

ben marvazi 2020

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Working on a new animation project, whether it’s an explainer video, short film, advertisement, or even a passion project, can seem overwhelming and tough to finish.

Here’s the thing: if you want to reach your goal, you need to set objectives. Without goals, you will feel lost and not have a sense of fulfillment as you work on your animation projects.

You may have heard of the term “SMART Goals” already. It’s a simple and effective method that you can use in your animation career and also in other parts of your life to help you achieve your small and big goals.

In this blog post, we list the ways that you can set SMART Goals as an animator.

What Does SMART Mean?

The SMART goals acronym was first created in 1981 by George Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company.

George Doran published a paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” that was intended for corporate managers.

He realized that it isn’t enough to just meet a company’s goals and objectives; those objectives should be measured to make a meaningful impact. George saw that by focusing on these areas, people can gain more success in their work.

So what does SMART stand for? Well, that depends. The words in the SMART acronym have changed over time and may vary depending on the circumstance and the person using them.

George  originally defined SMART Goals this way:

  • Specific - there must be a specific area for improvement
  • Measurable - make sure that indicators of progress can be quantified
  • Assignable - tasks must be assigned to people
  • Realistic - results should be achievable with the use of the proper resources.
  • Time-related - the time when results can be achieved must be specified

So when you think SMART, think Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Having SMART goals is better than setting normal goals. Utilizing SMART goals can give you a clear and simple way to manage your goals and objectives at work and even in your everyday life.

SMART goals reduce your risk of setting out to achieve a goal without knowing which actions you need to take in order to make it happen. By reading your SMART goals and reviewing them each day, you have a guide in making progress towards achieving your goals.

Ways to Set SMART Goals as an Animator

Now that you have a brief background about SMART goals, let’s dive into the specifics of how you can apply this to your life as an animator.

S - Specific

man saying you should be more specific


Be specific about your goals and objectives. Being specific means having a clear mission and thinking about a vision statement. In your goal, answer the W questions.

  • What are you trying to accomplish as an animator? Where do you see yourself after accomplishing your goals?
  • Why do you want to achieve your goals?
  • Who will be involved in your SMART goals? Will you need animation mentors, or colleagues, to help you?
  • When do you want to achieve your goals?
  • Where will you achieve your goals? Mention a specific company, location, etc. to achieve your goals.
  • What resources do you need to achieve your goals? Do you need animation training, software, equipment, tools, etc.?

Here’s an example of how you can write down your specific goal:

  • I want to earn more money and gain animation clients.
  • I want to have a steady source of income for my family and become a well-known 2D animator.
  • I will have to interact with animation clients, agencies, mentors, and colleagues.
  • I don’t have that many clients now, but I plan to have new clients before the year ends.
  • I can reach this goal by working in my home studio or in an animation studio.
  • I don’t have that much knowledge and skills in using other kinds of animation software. I need to take more animation classes.

M - Measurable

woman talking about being focused

GIF by Rosanna Pansino via GIPHY

Your animation goals should be quantifiable so that you can track your progress. Being able to measure your goals makes them more realistic and helps you stay focused on reaching them.

Tracking goals help you stay motivated and on track towards your destination. Once you know how far you’ve come, you’ll feel sense of fulfillment that will encourage you to keep going

Even if you realize you still have a long way to go, looking at your progress might inspire you to keep moving forward towards your animation goals.

For example:

  • I want to earn 7% more compared to last year and gain 15 new animation clients before the year ends.

A - Achievable

man saying that a goal is possible

GIF by Rooster Teeth by GIPHY

This is often an overlooked criterion in setting goals. Before setting animation goals, you should first determine if you can really reach the animation goals that you set for yourself.

Take note that if you have a bigger vision, you’ll have to be more careful about setting your goals. Ask yourself if you have sufficient time, finance, tools, and other resources to achieve your goals.

For example:

  • I will read books and take animation courses online that will add to my knowledge and animation skills.
  • I will make a to-do list every day and check my progress when the day ends.

R - Realistic

woman talking about being realistic

GIF by The Bachelor via GIPHY

Your animation goals should be lined up with other animation goals and life goals that you have. Only you can determine whether or not you can accomplish your goals.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are these animation goals necessary?
  • Will reaching them be worth the effort and time in the end?
  • Are my goals aligned with my other personal goals and animation goals?

You can make your goals look like this:

  • I am able to work both in an animation studio as well as in my home studio as a freelance animator.
  • There are many businesses needing video services these days. There are also many ways online and offline that I can gain animation clients.

If you see that your goals won’t benefit your other objectives after writing them down, maybe you should rethink why it’s your goal.

T - Timely

a man pointing to his watch

GIF from General Hospital via GIPHY

Your animation goals should be achievable within a specific time frame. Any kind of animation goal can be set by any animator, but if you don’t set a deadline, you will most likely not be motivated to work on it.

Having time-bound goals will help you keep thinking about how to achieve your goals. Ask yourself:

  • What can I do today to reach my end goal?
  • How can I improve my animation skills more?
  • What strategies will I use to get more animation clients?

For example:

  • I will need to have 7 new animation clients before within the next 3 months; by December 8.

5 Steps to Set Smart Goals

1) Write Down Your SMART Goals

ballpen and notebook

Image by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Now that you have a guide about what SMART goals are all about and how they can be used in setting animation goals, it’s time for you to write it down.

Don’t let it stay in your head until you forget it. You should write it down and place it where you can always see it so that you’ll be reminded of what you’re trying to accomplish.

According to a study by Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University in California, people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down.

2) Regularly Evaluate Your Progress

man asking for help on evaluation

GIF by Gilmore Girls via Unsplash

A reason why many people fail to follow through with their New Year resolutions is that they get busy with their daily lives and forget to track their progress.

It’s important for you to regularly check if you are making progress towards your animation goals. You can use a planner or a smartphone app to help you easily check whether you are staying on or off track.

You can also ask someone like your colleague or mentor to be your accountability partner as you make your way towards your animation goals.

3) Learn From Others

a man talking about learning

GIF by Team Coco via GIPHY

Behind every successful person is hard work as well as help and a lot of mentoring from other people. As the saying goes, “No man is an island.”

You may be a freelance animator, but that doesn’t mean you can do it all on your own. Even successful animators had mentors and colleagues to help them as they made their way to the top.

You won’t be able to get far without the help of others who can see potential in you and give you solid advice on how to go about your animation career.

Aside from learning from your colleagues and mentors, you can watch YouTube videos, read books, and take animation classes or workshops to add to your animation knowledge and skills.

4) Don’t Let Your Failures Bring You Down 

woman talking about not giving up

GIF by Poms via GIPHY

Failure can easily make you want to give up on reaching your animation goals. However, this old saying rings true: winners never quit and quitters never win.

Just because you failed once or twice doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.

When you feel unmotivated to keep moving forward, look back at your big and small accomplishments and see how far you’ve come from your starting point.

If you don’t think what you did is effective, then look at things from a different perspective and do things differently. You just might need to take another road towards the same destination.

5) Reward Yourself As You Achieve Your Goals

a man with a backpack on top of the mountain

Image by Simon English via Unsplash

You don’t have to wait to achieve your end goal before you reward yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself and make sure to celebrate your progress. Meet your loved ones for a special  meal or reward yourself by doing something relaxing like taking a nice, long bath with your favorite book.

Rewarding yourself for small achievements can give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue hitting your animation goals.


SMART goals can be used not just in your animation career but also in any aspect of your life. They will help you reach your main end goal. Remember, they must be trackable, realistic, and able to be finished in a specific amount of time.

SMART goals give you a clear picture of what your goals are and how you can achieve them in an orderly and timely manner. This process also protects you from abandoning your goal; and eliminates everything that can hinder you from achieving your goals.

It’s not enough to make SMART goals in your head. Put them into writing and start moving towards your animation career goals.As you accomplish your big and small goals, don’t forget to evaluate and review them just in case your actions aren’t heading towards your desired result.

If you want to know more about animation tips and the business side of animation, check out our free marketing handbook and sign up for our free masterclass.

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