How to Help a Teen Set and Reach Goals

A Goal-Setting Worksheet Exercise

teenage girl writing at desk

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Learning how to set goals is an important life skill for teens. Teens who have goals are less likely to wander aimlessly through life. Instead, they'll be motivated to work hard to reach their greatest potential. 

Teenage goals don't have to be life-altering. Instead, a goal could be as simple as saving up enough money to purchase a prom dress or getting a B in Geometry. 

Working toward a goal can help your teen learn about himself. And it can help him create bigger goals for himself in the future. Goals require teens to think about what they want to accomplish. Then, in order to be successful, they have to identify the steps they need to take to reach those goals. 

How Parents Can Encourage Teens to Reach a Goal

Children require a lot of support from grownups to help them reach their goals. They can't purchase their own musical instrument and they can't drive themselves to basketball practice.

Teenagers, on the other hand, have many more skills and resources, so they should require less support from you to reach their goals, as long as they are familiar with goal-setting.

The teenage years a great time to teach goal-setting strategies. Regardless of whether he's successful at achieving his goal, he can learn valuable life lessons along the way. Mistakes, failure, and setbacks can be wonderful teachers.

Steps for Creating a Goal-Setting Worksheet for Your Teen

One of the keys to setting and reaching your goals is understanding the steps needed to achieve it. Writing it down is the best way to help your teen organize her thoughts and develop a plan.

Here are the steps you can teach your teen to follow so she can set healthy goals:

  1. Identify the goal and write it down. Create a goal that your teen has control over. For example, your teen can't control whether she becomes the fastest runner in the whole school. But she can work on shaving 30 seconds off her mile run. 
  2. List the tasks needed to obtain the goal. Think about each step that will get you closer to your goal. If your teen's goal is to buy a car, she'll need a job. And in order to get a job, she'll need to fill out job applications.
  3. Start working on the tasks. Help your teen identify when she will get started on her goal. Write it down on the calendar. And decide how often she'll do it. For example, she may say, "I'll start going to the gym next Monday and I'll work out for 30 minutes three days per week." Get specific. 
  4. Add to the tasks as needed. Even the best-formed plan can meet the unexpected. You may think that you thought of everything, but be prepared to make changes and add to your list of tasks if something new comes up.
  5. Check off the tasks as they are completed. Few things are more satisfying than looking back at a list of things you have to do and notice the progress you've already made.
  6. When all of the tasks are complete, determine if the goal has been met. If so, create your next goal. If not, revise the goal.

The Follow-Up for Finishing Goals and Creating New Ones

Each time your teen finishes a goal, talk about it. Review the steps she took to accomplish it and review how she overcame obstacles or setbacks along the way. Discuss the lessons she learned.

Then, help her set new goals for herself. It's important for your teen to always have a goal that she's working toward so she can constantly challenge herself to become better.

Whether she wants to get healthier, become happier, or do better in school, help her identify realistic goals that will help her reach her greatest potential. 

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