New Season, New Start: Goal Setting for Autumn

Happy AutumnHappy Autumn! It is now officially autumn and I can see some of the leaves starting to change color here in the northeast. I love fall but I sometimes feel that it is the shortest season of all. Before you know it the cold temperatures will be here with the excitement (notice I didn’t say stress) of the holiday season.

A new season for me means a new start but also serves as a reminder that the year is coming to an end. In fact there are only 98 days left to the year. Isn’t that scary? The reason I know that is thanks to Gary Ryan Blair who runs a “100 day challenge” program. I love the concept that it is not time to give up but rather time to push harder to get those goals off the list so come January 1st you are proud of what you have accomplished and motivated to keep going.

So, I’m taking a different approach this season. I am not going to go crazy (please hold me to that) by taking on EVERYTHING I want to get done between now and winter. Instead I am going to focus on three goals for October, three for November and maybe one for December. The reason I say three is because you can’t just look at one piece of your life without realizing how everything else is related. For instance, if you have low energy, then you can’t possibly be as effective at work or at home. Coaches may use different names for each category but the basic “parts” of your life can be broken down into categories such as; health, money, career, relationships, fun and recreation, physical environment, family, spiritual and personal growth. So I picked three goals for October in the areas of health, home and business. I know that announcing them publicly is the way to make me more accountable. You will check in on me, won’t you?

Here are my SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time specific) goals:

1. Health: I will work out or be physically active three or more days a week for 30 minutes or more for the month of October.

2. Home: I will redo my son’s room by the end of October.

3. Business: I will keep track of the hours I work and separate “work” from “my time” throughout October.

There! Now I am committed to those three goals. I deliberately made them easy to do so that I could be successful without killing myself. If I had said I will work out 5 or 6 days a week for 45-60 minutes, then once I failed, I wouldn’t want to keep going. So, make your goals not so tough that life events could cause you to fail, but also not so easy that you aren’t stretching yourself.

Now please use the comment box below to share your October goals (I’m giving you the last week of September to get ready) and let’s hold each other accountable.

If you’d like me to hold your son or daughter accountable for staying organized with their homework, then check out my End Homework Hassle E-Learning Course.



Goal Setting for Teens IV

Follow the road to motivation
Follow the road to motivation

Now that you have separated your goals into actionable steps and put them in your calendar, it is time to add in some reinforcement to help you succeed (please see previous posts). We all know how hard it is to start a new habit and maintain it. Sheer willpower does not work! You have probably heard the saying that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Writing down your action steps are the first step but that does not guarantee that when the time comes you will do it.  I think that by leveraging your environment you can increase your consistency and create a new habit in less time.

By leveraging your environment you can reinforce the habit you want to establish. The physical aspect of leveraging the environment would be putting things in place that would serve as reminders for the action you want to take. Reminder cards on your bedroom door, signs in the bathroom, or moving furniture around to better support your new habit are all examples of ways to use the environment to help you. You can color code your calendar or create a vision board that shows you and your life with your new habits established.

You can also link a new habit to something you automatically do now. For instance if your morning routine of getting ready for school is the same each day then you could link your new habit to some part of that routine that is already automatic. For example if brushing your teeth is automatic, you could review flashcards for those two minutes. By hooking something new to something already established you increase your odds of doing it.

You can also use your family and friends to help you. By asking for them to call you at a specific time or meet you somewhere only if you have done your action helps you become accountable. Just that little added pressure of having to explain your action to someone makes you more likely to do it.  That is one reason why coaching is so effective with teens. If you’d rather keep track of your progress yourself, then I recommend using a simple chart you can check off or what Darren Hardy calls a rhythm tracker. This will allow you to see how you are doing. Sometimes we give up because we missed one or two times. A rhythm tracker gives you the bigger picture. Save them so you can compare and try to increase your consistency each week.

There is also the use of technology to help you stay on track for working on your goals. Using your smartphone for alarms and reminders from your calendar or devices such as a Time Timer (clock that shows the passage of time in a more visual way) or MotivAider (vibrates like a pager but goes off as frequently as you want) can supply the external reminders you may need to establish that new habit. I know that if you take the time to think about ways you can put reminders out there, you can come up with those that will work for you – and that’s what’s most important.

Don’t try to do it on willpower alone. Put at least two of these accommodations into effect and see the impact they have. I’d love to hear about it. Please use the comment box below.

Goal Setting for Teens II

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.

Goal Setting for Teens

GoalsMany adults begin the new year with high hopes and new resolutions. When I asked several middle and high school age students what their New Year resolutions or goals were, they said, “better grades.” When asked to elaborate though they were at a loss as to how they planned to reach that goal. Students are doing what they feel is the most they can do and then just hoping that it is enough to raise their grades. Sometimes they are surprised when it is not.

What is a Goal?

How can we help them set and attain a successful goal? The first step is to make sure their goal is a SMART goal. By that I mean it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific. (My apologies to the creator of that acronym). Let’s talk about the first two today. So, how do you make “better grades” more specific and measurable?

What does that look like?

First, define which grades they would like to improve and by how much. If your student is bringing home C’s and B’s, then honor roll is not out of reach but some subjects will need more work than others. For instance,” bring my science grade up from a C to a B” is more specific than “improving my grade”. From this point they can find out what their numeric average is and actually calculate how many points they need to raise it up a grade.

Next, make the goal measurable by using the average they are aiming for. For next term, I will raise my science grade by 12 points to an 83% in order to get a B for the term. Now they can actually figure out the specifics they need to raise that grade. If they studied for an hour for a test and received a 75%, would two hours be enough to bring their grade to a 91%? That’s right they would need a 91 in order to bring a 75% up to an 83%.  A low grade takes extra effort to raise their average by a few points. Homework also has an effect as it often throws students a curve ball because they do not understand the impact  one missing homework can have.

If your student would benefit from help with goal setting, time management and organization skills, then check out our upcoming class, Super Skills for Students.

Image thanks to Pixabay