Kids: Why You Should Set Goals

What goes through your mind when you hear the word "goal"? Is it the two posts and a net as in soccer? Or, is it a target that you want to hit? The answer usually depends on the time of year. Right? Well now is not the time to think about soccer. Instead, it is time to set a couple of goals for 2016. Why? Because goals can help you achieve your dreams. Dreams? How?

Have you ever listened to Katy Perry and wished you could sing like her? Maybe, you've actually dreamed that you were on a stage singing "Firework" to your adoring fans. "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?"

 Or, maybe you've dreamed of catching a pass thrown by football great, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, then running for the touchdown. So how are you going to make those dreams, or at least part of them, come true unless you set a goal? 

Most of you already set goals. Some are small goals like completing your homework before dinner. Others are larger goals like making first string on the football team or running a 10K. In each case, you wanted to accomplish something--a goal--and then you worked, or took some action, to make it happen. Hooray! You've learned that setting a goal--any goal--can help you focus your time and energy toward making that dream a reality. But if this is your first time at setting goals, here are three tips that might help:

  1. Be realistic. If you've never driven a car, "I'm going to get my licence next week" is not something you can expect to accomplish. It's not realistic or achievable. However, "I am going to study the manual and get my permit before spring break" is achievable.
  2. Start small. Every change in your life, whether it's making your bed before breakfast or running every night before dinner, takes time to make it part of your daily routine. It needs to become a habit, or a pattern that you've developed through daily repetition. Setting a small goal is easier to accomplish, and small goals can work into larger ones.
  3. Write it down. Put it on the refrigerator or hang it on your bedroom mirror. Seeing it each day will help you work the action part into your schedule, and make it easier to become a habit.

Finally, if you slip up it is not the end of the world. Everyone does it. The key is to get back on track, and not give up. So don't beat yourself up if you forget to work on your goal for a day or two. Just remind yourself why you set the goal, why it's important, and then pick up where you left off. 

Next week: A review of a new book by Mary Arete Moodey, "A Hullabalo of Hippos"

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