The first step is remember the 3 P’s of goal setting.
1. Positive: Goals should be phrased positively so they help you feel good about yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish.
2. Personal: They must reflect your own dreams and values, not those of your friends, family, teachers or popular media.
3. Possible: When setting goals, be sure to consider what’s possible and within your control.
By ensuring that your goals are positive, personal and possible you are on the right track towards writing achievable goals. The next step is to ensure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T.
1. S – Specific: It is important that you are clear about exactly what you want to achieve.
2. M – Measurable: It’s essential that you are able to track your progress towards your goal.
3. A – Achievable: Although your goal should challenge you, be sure that it is realistic for you to achieve.
4. R – Relevant: Ensure that your goal is in harmony with your current conditions and vision for yourself.
5. T – Timed: Setting deadlines are essential in order to stay motivated to work on your goals.
Let’s look at a few goals that are quite common, but need some work.
1. I want to do better in school this term.
Although this may seem like a great objective, we are missing a few things here. This goal isn’t very specific. What is better in school? Are we speaking about all subject areas? How will the student know when they have achieved it?
2. I want mom and dad to be happy with my academic progress so they will stop harassing me.
Although we can see where this goal may be coming from, it lacks positivity and is more about mom and dad, than the student. It’s important that the student writes a goal that is personal to them. The goal above suggests that the student wants to do better in school simply to get their parents off their back!
3. I want to do better in math.
Like the two goals above, this goal is also weak. What does doing better look like? What is the time frame within which this student would like to do better in math?
Now that we have looked at a few goals that need work, let’s take goal number three and make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal that reflects the 3 P’s.
In order to receive at least 70% in math this term, I will spend 30 minutes each day reviewing current math concepts and commit to attending extra math help classes at least once a week.
Setting well shaped academic goals is a great first step towards a year filled with academic success. It is important to remember that when we set goals, they are not cast in stone. Evaluate your goals and do not be afraid to change them if necessary. In our math example, if your teen is struggling to get 50% on math tests despite the efforts and following of the nightly practice routine that has been put in place, perhaps 55% or 60% may be more achievable. Similarly, if they are managing to achieve 70% with ease, perhaps the percentage may have to be increased to 80%. Do not be afraid to evaluate and adapt goals. Just ensure that when they are being adapted, that they are being adapted for the right reasons.
Happy goal setting!