Friday, October 15, 2010

Advice for Setting Goals

One piece of advice I try to offer to teachers and parents is to ask their students what their goals are for each class.  Often, students are caught off guard when this question is posed, and will respond with a typical “I don’t know.”  At this point, an important teachable moment emerges.

Setting goals is harder than it seems.  Telling a student to “set some goals” can often be the equivalent of asking them to fix a leaky faucet.  Without a clear set of understandable instructions, setting goals can become frustrating and counter-productive.

  The advice that I have always given is to make sure goals pass a 3-part test for students:

  1. Is the goal appropriate (in other words, is it ambitious enough to be considered an actual achievement)?
  2. Is the goal realistic (is it something the student can honestly achieve if he/she follows an appropriate plan of action)?
  3. Is the goal flexible (can the student adjust the goal to account for early achievements)?

These three simple guidelines for goal setting have been very helpful to me both personally and professionally.  They are applicable in almost any situation and, if followed, can be a source of great motivation and pride.

If you or someone you know can benefit from additional guidance on goal setting, please feel free to contact me at:

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