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Setting Goals

Category: Activities: Local | Age Group: 16+


Goal Setting


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As teens mature into young adults, there is an increasing need to provide focus in their lives. They need to start thinking about higher education, what career they will pursue and what type of lifestyle they want, just to mention a few. In order to meet these challenges they will need a series of skills. One of the most important of these is goal setting. Goal setting helps to give one a sense of life direction and purpose. It can also lead to self-satisfaction and fulfillment if the goals are set properly and realistically.

  • Find some time to sit down with your son or daughter and discuss their future plans – such things as what they are considering as: a job or career, where they would like to be at age 25 or so, the type of lifestyle they would like to live, etc.
  • During this discussion indicate to them that these are long-range plans and ask them if they have set any plan or goal for the next few months. Are they hoping to go to some special event? Are they saving for a specific purchase? Do they have plan on making a sports team? Etc.
  • With this as background give them the old adage, “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride” and ask them if they can tell you what it means.
  • Make certain that there is a clear understanding that it means that nothing comes without effort and that it takes more than simply wishing for something for it be achieved.
  • Tell them that once they have an objective in mind – something they want to obtain or accomplish they need to have a plan to reach that goal.
  • Inform them also that one of the most important things in developing an effective plan is goal-setting because goals give your plan a focus and provide you with meaningful direction to make your plan work.
  • Let them know that there are both short-term and long-term goals and refer them back to your opening discussion with them for examples.
  • Stress with them that there are effective goals and ineffective goals and that the difference is in the way the goal is set. General goals – e.g. “getting physically fit” lack direction and clarity. Specific goals give focus and direction – e.g. “join a health club and work out 3 times a week”.
  • Tell them that there is a skill in setting effective goals and that goals need to be SMART goals.
  • Tell them also that each of the letters of the word “smart” represents one aspect of good goal-setting. Effective goals need to be:

S – specific – What, why, how?
M – measurable – so that you can see if you have met it
A – achievable – the goal should challenge you a little but be defined well enough so that you can achieve it
R – realistic and results focused – it measures outcomes – not activities
T – timely – linked to a time frame that gives some urgency to the goal

  • Once you have given these terms to your son or daughter together pick one of either the long term or short term goals established at the beginning of the discussion and work it through the SMART process together.
  • Indicate to your teen that this method of goal-setting works for all hopes and plans and gives a focus to actions. For example, in setting a financial goal concerning saving money the process will establish amounts, methods, outcomes, etc., and allow you to put any spending activity into the perspective of accomplishing your goal.
  • Review SMART goals in more detail and practise this skill.
  • Help your son or daughter establish and plan some financial goals to address their future needs.