How to help students set and achieve their goals
What’s the recipe for goal setting? The secret sauce to success is accountability: An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. Goal setting can sometimes be viewed as an intimidating process, and following through with them can even be more daunting. However, as a parent or caregiver of children, it’s important to walk the walk and talk the talk so that they can mirror and learn how to approach goal setting without fear!
Make Goal Setting FUN!
According to an online article by verywellfamily.com, it’s essential to, “introduce your child to the relevant language of goal setting. Beyond simply understanding what a goal is, your child needs to understand how to work toward a goal including how to strategize, organize, and prioritize.”
So, parents, why not make goal setting a fun annual family event? Here’s how to approach it:
- Set a night (like a family game night!) where everyone gathers with the expectation of establishing individual goals for the year (bonus: make a separate list of goals for the family to achieve together!) The gathering can take place during the summer to start at the beginning of the new school year, or you can base it on a calendar year and make New Year resolutions in January.
- Give each person a sheet of paper and set a timer for five minutes. Instruct everyone to take this time to write down the goals they want to achieve in the new year.
- When the timer buzzes, reset it for two minutes, and ask everyone to circle only two or three goals they want to commit to and work toward accomplishing. The important thing is not to end up with too many goals!
- Once everyone has their goals established, walk them through the S.M.A.R.T. Goals method (see below!)
Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals!
Using the S.M.A.R.T. Goals method is a great way to ensure the goals you and your family have set are obtainable and measurable. World War I Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker once said, “Here’s a six-word formula for success: Think things through, then follow through.” As a pilot, assessing and acting was vital for Rickenbacker’s survival. For us parents, assessing and acting is vital for our children to thrive. For each goal that your child has identified, walk them through the S.M.A.R.T. Goals method:
- Specific: What will be accomplished? What actions will they need to take?
- Measurable: What numbers or data will measure the goal? What will help them track progress to ensure they are taking the necessary steps toward accomplishing the goal?
- Achievable: Is the goal doable and realistic? If not, you may need to first break the goal down into smaller, bite-sized chunks to give them a better shot at success.
- Relevant: Why is the result important to them?
- Timely: What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?
Be a Goal Setting Role Model!
As parents, one of the greatest things we can do for our children (and often one of the hardest things!) is to practice what we preach. According to a parents.com article, Christine Carter, Ph.D., and author says, “If what you want is for your kids to be out the door earlier, you need to work on it yourself. I saw that when I was consistently ready at the time I wanted to leave; it was possible to ask my kids to make changes. Let’s not ask them to do more than we are willing to do.”
Here are some ways you can keep yourself and your children accountable for the goals they have set:
- Be intentional about checking in. A great time to talk with your children about their goals is in the car. Ask them questions to keep it conversational and to show them you are interested in hearing their thoughts. Some kids might respond well to, “I know you wanted to have someone over twice a month. Has that happened yet for February?” Others might do better with, “We don’t have any plans this weekend. Would you like to have a teammate over?”
- Share your own goal-setting experiences. Be honest about what’s working or not working as you are working on your own goals. For example, “I’m so glad I joined the library book club last year. It helped me reach my daily page goal.”
- Let them fly by letting them try. As hard as it may be, give your child the opportunity to work hard toward their goals on their own. If your child doesn’t achieve a goal, you can still make sure that the struggle is motivating, not paralyzing. Talk through how things went off-track and what strategies your child might try in the future. Some of life’s greatest lessons are learned through failure and ultimately will teach your child resiliency.
Book a YES Student Program!
Want to learn more about our student goal-setting programs? Please send us a message through our Book Now page, and someone from our YES team will be in touch with you within one business day.
YES Motivational Moments Mini Video Series
PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS: Watch this video with the child in your life and then use the discussion questions below to help guide your conversation.
Question 1: What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
Question 2: What is one goal that you have for this year? Can you make it S.M.A.R.T.?
Question 3: How is a goal different from a dream? Think of the quote, “A goal without a plan is only a dream.”