Most teens have a vague idea of what they would like to accomplish, but few have true, concrete goals. A goal is equivalent to a target. Without a goal, you’re just drifting along, hoping things will improve. With a goal, you have a definite direction and purpose.
Although we’ve all been told how important targets are, few teens have ever been given specific directions on how to formulate an effective goal.
Goals should have these characteristics to help your teen reach success:
1. Specific. “Make a good grade in my science class” is not specific. Instead, try “I will get an A in Science by studying an extra 30 minutes per day.”
· Encourage your teen to be as specific as they need to be. It will help them drive actions to complete those goals into manageable tasks.
2. Time-bound. Without a timeline, a teen might find themselves waiting a long time to get started. I have found that deadlines motivate me to get things done. Having an endpoint date creates focus and urgency.
· An effective endpoint date is no more than 12 weeks into the future. If your teen’s goal will take longer than that, break it into smaller goals. Anything beyond 12 weeks will cause their focus to wane. It’s far too easy to procrastinate with goals set too far in the future.
3. Possible. If a teen doesn’t believe they can achieve their goal, they won’t pursue it. What would be the point? Encourage your teen to start with a goal small enough to be done within the set timeframe.
· Ask your teen, “do you have the necessary resources and time to reach your goal before the deadline? How can I support you?”
4. Measurable. If they can’t measure it, how will they know if they achieved it? How will they know if they are making progress? Goals that deal with money or grades, for example, are easy to quantify. A goal to make an A in Science is easy to measure because you either earned it or you didn’t.
· Goals that deal with less quantifiable characteristics, such as, “spend less time on social media,” can be a little more challenging. Have your teen develop their own measuring scale. For example, they can write down how much time they spend on social media each day.
5. Reviewed regularly. One of the most effective ways to prioritize goals is to review them at least daily. With so many thoughts and ideas flying around in our heads, a daily review of goals will help them to rise above the noise. Encourage your teen to take a few minutes each day to review their goals at least once.
· Take enough time to rewrite, read, and visualize goals.
After your teen has created a goal, have them make a list of actions that will lead to attaining the goal. Sometimes, we spend too much time in our heads to be successful. Things only change when new actions are taking place. Start at the end and work your way back to the present. Ask your teen, “what step could you take today toward reaching your goal?”
When your teen has completed all the steps, their goal should be a reality!
Goals are the key to reliable achievement. A great way to support your teen is to model the desired behavior. Share with them your goals. Ask them if they think your goals are specific, measurable, and time-bound.
Would you like to learn more ways to support your teen with achieving their goals? Schedule a complimentary College Assessment Plan call with me here.