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Young kids often have large dreams, but tend to live their lives in the moment. As they get older, they begin to focus on more realistic ideas about what they want to do in life and what they are capable of achieving.
What they don't know is how to go about achieving those things. That's where learning to set goals comes into play. Learning to set goals is something that improves with practice, so today we are going to look at short-term goals as being the perfect place to start.
What are Short-Term Goals and Why Do Students Need Them?
Short-term goals are those goals we can meet within a short period of time, definitely under a year. The goal can be daily, weekly, or monthly. Many students find a school term perfect for timing.
Throughout life, we all have dreams and visions but they often go unrealized because we have no idea where to start. Teaching students the difference between visions and goals early will help them get a step ahead when it comes to getting what they want in life. As they gain success in reaching these short-term goals, their confidence grows and they are motivated to try for bigger ones.
Short-term goals are great for many reasons. They are easily achievable and easy to measure and track. They help build confidence and the rate of success is quick enough not to cause a loss of momentum. Setting short-term goals allows students to get into the habit of planning for the future, rather than simply dreaming that something will “one day happen”. They get more into the mindset of “I am” instead of “I will”.
How to Set Short-Term Goals for a Well-Rounded Life
Students are very visual for the most part and helping them set goals with worksheets designed for the purpose is often a very effective teaching tool. There are many methods available that help students know what goes into a good goal.
Many younger people like the WOOP method best, especially for short-term goals. Whatever method you decide on, make sure the student finds an area where they truly care about having success and that they identify skills or traits they would like to develop.
Developing minds need to grow and learn in so many areas. It is now that they must learn to have a life that isn't focused merely on one thing. Every area of a student's life is intertwined with all the rest.
Socializing, school, home, and with older students maybe even a job, affect each other. For that reason, students' short-term goals should not be focused merely on school, but on all the areas they are trying to grow. Let's get into some examples.
Short Term Goals Examples for Students
When this young, students are focused mainly on school and learning daily self-care activities.
1. I will learn my 2, 3, 4, and 5 times tables by the end of the first report period this year by prating every night and having a parent quiz me each week. This will help me be prepared to learn the rest of my timetables when the time comes.
2. I will make one new friend who is different from me by the mid-term. I will do this by reaching out and asking the person to join me at my table for lunch each day and will spend the time trying to find out what we have in common and how our families are both the same and different.
3. I will start to read more with the goal of reading one new book a month for the entire school year. I will start keeping track in a reading journal and spend fifteen minutes each night reading before I go to sleep.
4. I want to learn many languages, so I will start with Spanish. I will use flashcards to learn two new Spanish words every week and will use these words correctly every day at least twice. By the end of the school year, that will make eighty new Spanish words I know.
5. I want to learn to be less nervous when I am in front of people. To help, I will enter the spelling bee this year and strive to come in at least in the top three. I will find an accountability partner to practice with me so we can make it easier for both of us.
6. I will submit all my homework on time for the entire school year. I will achieve this by doing my homework as soon as I get home and have a snack. I will place it in my book bag as soon as it is finished so I don't forget it when I leave the house in the morning.
7. I want to learn how to play the piano in the school's Christmas program. I will sign up for piano lessons and go to every class. I will also practice for one hour every night until I can play one perfect piece in time for the program.
8. I want to make my mother breakfast in bed all by myself on Mother's Day. I will ask to spend time helping cook in the kitchen one day every week until then so that I can learn to make an entire breakfast.
9. To do well in school I need to eat a good breakfast, so on school nights, I will lay out the clothes I am going to wear before I go to bed at night. This way, I can save time and eat before I leave for the day.
10. I want to learn to speak up more in front of other people. For the rest of the school year, I will make an effort to raise my hand in class at least once a day to either ask a question or answer a question.
11. I want to get all As and Bs on my report card during this reporting period. I will make this happen by doing my homework every night and reviewing the day's material for fifteen minutes a day. I will keep track with a timer and mark a checkmark on the calendar each day as I finish this.
Tweens and Teens
Students this age are starting to think about their future and are also highly interested in doing things that help foster their independence.
12. I need to come out of my shell more. To do so, I will join the drama club and participate in the yearly performance our school performs. I will attend every practice so I am confident that I know my part and can perform with confidence.
13. I waste time finding things I need to have fun with my friends or accomplish school projects because my room is a mess. I will spend this weekend pulling everything out of the closet and rearranging the closet, my drawers, and my desk so that everything has a place.
14. I want to increase both my reading and writing skills. For the coming six months, I will challenge myself to read three books a month outside the classroom assignments and I will create a reading journal where I write a report of the book when I finish it. I will ask my English teacher to look the journal over at the end of that time to see if I have improved.
15. I want to get an A in Math this year. In order to achieve this, I will seek out a tutor who can help me better understand the math concepts I struggle with. We will meet once a week throughout the school year and work for a two-hour period each time.
16. I need to start thinking about what I want after graduation. I will research possible colleges to see which ones appeal to me and by mid-term, I will have my choices narrowed to the top three. At that time, I will meet with the school guidance counselor to review my choices and see what steps I need to take next.
17. I need to take the SAT test at the end of summer. For the duration of the summer, I will attend preparation classes and take pre-tests to see what areas I need to spend more time studying. In the areas where I need more work, I will ask for extra help from a tutor.
18. I want to spend more fun time with my parents and siblings. I will ask everyone to join me once every week for a family game night. We will come up with ideas as a family and continue doing this for the whole year to give us a chance to connect and catch up on what everyone is doing outside the family.
19. I want to get my driver's license by the end of the summer. I will take a driver's education class and apply for my permit and take the test the weekend before school starts in September. I will ask my older sibling to help me practice outside the classroom.
20. In order to grow as a person, I will start a gratitude journal and use it every day for three months. Each morning, I will write three things I am grateful for and each evening I will list three positive things that occurred in my life that day.
21. I want to save up money to buy a car once I get my license. I will get a part-time job on the weekends and put everything I earn into a savings account so I can save up $5,000 in a year.
22. In order to meet many of my long-term goals, I need to have a good education. In order to make the most of this time, I will strive for perfect attendance at school for the entire year so that I do not miss any important learning opportunities.
This is the last stage before adult life takes over. Students this age need to acquire skills that will give them direction and good habits the rest of their life.
23. I want to make the Dean's List this semester. In order to get the best chance, I will make sure I spend two hours each night on studying whatever classes I had that day and will review the morning of each test for a half hour before class.
24. I want to pay off my credit card balance within three months. In order to do that, I will eat out less and refrain from buying any unnecessary items such as new clothing or a new video game. I will also keep my entertainment cost to the bare minimum, finding free events to attend or inviting friends in for a fun evening.
25. I need a new laptop for classes in August. In order to make enough money to get one, I will research the cost of one that meets my needs and divide the cost over the summer months, putting aside money from my summer job in order to cover the cost without having to panic.
26. I have a big problem remembering what assignments are due when and end up rushing to get them completed at the last minute, often missing deadlines. I will buy a student planner and color-code entries for classes. Each morning, I will check the planner to make sure I have not missed completing anything that is coming due within the upcoming week.
27. I am gaining too much weight and spending too much money on eating fast food. I will limit my fast food purchases to Saturday evenings and will go shopping every Sunday so that I can have readily-available dinners to eat at home each night. If I make a weekly menu before shopping, I won't have to stress over what to fix or not having ingredients.
28. I don't connect with my parents often enough and this causes them to worry. I will set aside two hours each Sunday of this semester to sit down and Facetime with them so they can see me and hear my voice and we don't feel so far apart.
29. Stress is starting to become a problem. I will set up an appointment immediately with the school's counselor and ask about learning some stress-relieving techniques. I am most interested in learning ones that I can do anywhere and will make sure I practice these techniques every morning for the coming ten weeks until I perfect them.
30. Giving back to the community is important. I love animals, so that would be the best area for me to volunteer my time. I will contact the local shelter and find out what they need in the way of in-person volunteers and what their requirements are. I will then make sure I meet the requirements, such as getting clearances, and will schedule three hours a week to help out at the shelter.
31. I need proper sleep in order to function fully. For this term, I will physically schedule in 7 hours of sleep time at least five days a week. I will keep track of how many nights I do this and will set an alarm a half hour before my scheduled bed time so that I can finish up what I am doing and not worry about leaving a project unfinished, which would keep me awake.
32. Learning how to budget, get income when needed, and save are all something that will help me now and for the rest of my life. By the end of my first quarter, I will have a savings account and a workable budget in place. If necessary, I will talk to my student advisor and ask for referrals to someone who can help me make the best choices in these areas and possibly suggest some part-time positions that may help me earn more money without damaging my grades.
33. I want to enjoy my education and be well-rounded when I leave school. This year, I will choose one class each quarter that is purely for fun. I will sit down and make a list of things I would like to know more about or experience, such as Archeology, and will sign up for a class that fits into my schedule.
Final Thoughts on Short-Term Goals for Students
Learning to set and achieve goals is a skill that has many benefits throughout life. In order to grow, once students learn how to achieve short-term goals, it is time to move on to bigger goals that take more time.
Having goals, whether short-term, medium-term, or long-term, gives a person direction and allows for many moments where they can feel proud of an accomplishment. With each goal that is reached, confidence grows and so does the wish to feel that rush of success. The younger a person is when they start, the easier it will be to set goals that are bigger and take longer in the future.
This is one of the greatest paths to seeing your student grow into a happy, healthy adult who loves life and doesn't wander around aimlessly, feeling the regrets of not achieving what they are so passionate about accomplishing.