One way to help motivate yourself to action and success, at any age, is to set a goal to work toward. Goal setting is an art in itself, and it’s important to show kids how to create goals that will work for them and help them, rather than stressing out or intimidating them.
Make it a smart goal. Rather than just setting a goal to improve their grades or get more involved in school, have them use the SMART acronym to give them more direction.
SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely
Specific. Be clear and definitive. Focus on one thing at a time.
Measurable. Data that they can analyze and measure will tell them when they’ve reached their goal.
Achievable. Make sure the goal is one your student actually has some control over with a chance to succeed.
Realistic. Be sure the goal isn’t set so high that it’s impossible to reach. Striving to raise a grade by 20 percent in a week’s time will likely lead to frustration rather than celebration.
Timely. Set a timeframe for the completion of the goal. Allow for adjustment due to unforeseen circumstances, but students should hold themselves to a high standard of efficiency once the goal has been set.
It’s a good idea for goals to be written down in plain sight and reviewed regularly. Students and parents should plan on celebrating when the goal is met, but also use the momentum to move forward and set another goal that they want to achieve!
If they don’t meet the goal, take time to reflect and respond. Why wasn’t the goal met? Did they need more time? Did they lose motivation? Use their experience to help them refine and set a better goal next time. Praise their efforts for the attempt, and be positive.
Model the goal-setting process by setting a goal of your own and talking through your own process with them. They’ll appreciate seeing another example of goal setting and the reflection that goes with it, and who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself with some personal or professional success that you might not have otherwise considered!