In my previous post I mentioned that SMART goal setting for teens can provide a direction, focus and a measurable path for achieving the success they want. Whether it is to make the team, ace a test or make the honor roll a teen can benefit from clarifying what it is they really want rather than just making a general (and often empty) statement. We have already mentioned that a goal must be specific (S). The easiest way to do that is to answer the “wh” questions of who, what, where, when and why. The answer to the “why” question should resonate with your teen and not with someone else’s wishes for them.
A SMART goal is also measurable (M). In the case of improving grades it would be easy to track the progress on a simple chart. If a teen was trying to make the varsity team, they might want to track their practice time, workout time or the amount of weights they are lifting. This works for tracking a new habit as well. Darren Hardy, Publisher of Success magazine uses a rhythm register to track his new habits throughout the week. Having your teen track their progress makes the intangible, tangible. Now they can see the effort they are putting in and judge whether or not it is enough.
The next two letters (A & R) go together. A goal must be attainable (A) and realistic (R). Aiming for the honor roll is wonderful but it may not be realistic if grades are low or tests are few. It is wonderful to aim high but when forming goals they should be out of reach enough that you would need to stretch yourself and not so easy that you could attain it with minimal effort. Keep in mind that the further you have to go to reach your goal (especially academic ones) the longer your time frame needs to be. In our example of raising a grade by 12 points to an 83%, if only one more grade was added it would need to be a 91% or better. That may not be realistic. If instead there were three or four more opportunities to be graded, then the goal would be much more realistic and ultimately more attainable.
So you can see how important it is for a goal to be “time specific” (T), which is the last letter of the SMART acronym. Have you ever noticed that when you had a deadline coming up that your adrenaline kicked in and you were able to focus and get it done? Perhaps you have joked about “working better under pressure?” This is what happens when you set a time frame for accomplishing your goal. The impending deadline creates all kinds of action in the brain and kicks you into overdrive. It provides the motivation you need to get it done. Use it to your advantage.
A great time to set goals is at the beginning of the school year, but each new term brings another opportunity to create, review or revise them. February brings the start of term three in most schools and this is a great opportunity to prove to yourself what you can do. Start today to create two or three SMART goals. The more practice you have at setting and reaching for goals that meet the SMART criteria, the more likely you are to experience success. Celebrate the direction you are going and the changes you are seeing and let go of any guilt or negativity. Share your goals in the comment box below.
Next time we will take the goal setting to the next step of goal attaining.