The New Year offers a fresh start, a great time for setting goals and teaching executive function goal-setting strategies. Try this ten-minute activity to help students reflect on their year and set meaningful and doable goals for the year ahead.
Make Time for Setting Goals
As this whirlwind year comes to a close, students and their teachers have high hopes for 2021. It’s important to keep hope alive, so taking time to self reflect and set goals can help students carry some much needed positive energy into 2021. Goal setting helps students to recognize that their biggest power lies in themselves! Spending time talking about goals and using strategies (CANDO goals anyone?) will help turn New Years’ Resolutions into concrete goals for a fresh chapter.
What, Why, and How
Goal setting refers to the ability to identify the desired outcome based on an awareness of personal strengths and challenges. Goal setting without self-reflection can lead to dangerous goals that undermine motivation. We can better accomplish our goals when we understand our internal “why” of what drives us and make a plan for how we will get there. Here is a brief activity you can do with your students, or yourself, to reflect on goals for the new year.
- Create a list of outcomes you would like to see.
Think about specific big moments during the year (e.g., AP tests or trying out for a play) or parts of your life (at school or your job). What would you like to see happen? Make your vision as clear and realistic as you can.
- For each outcome or goal, ask yourself why you want that outcome to be true.
Jot down a note about what is motivating you. For example, perhaps you want to lose weight so that you can wear your favorite pair of jeans again. Maybe you want to achieve a higher GPA this semester to showcase on your college application or resume. Acknowledging the motivation behind your goal setting will keep your goals grounded and in view as you work towards them.
- Identify how you will reach your goals.
Now that your list of goals is clear and you understand why you wish to accomplish them, develop your individualized approach to how you will reach your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, clarify that you will do this by watching your meals and exercising five times per week. If your goal is to increase your GPA this semester, try to estimate how much time this will require, set a weekly goal, and identify your production time. The more specific you are about how to accomplish your goals, the more your why will drive you, so that your outcomes become a reality.
This activity can spark discussion about the importance, and challenge, of goal setting, as well as plant seeds for meaningful and strategic goal setting in a new year. Happy goal setting!
- Iris Jeffries, SMARTS Intern
SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org
Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org
The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org