Are you one of those people who starts the new year with the intention of making goals for yourself but never quite follow through? If you said yes, you’re in the majority, statistics show that only 8% of the people who make goals keep them. Why do so many of us, me included, fail at goal setting? This happens because we expect too much of ourselves, we have many things that we want to achieve, but we’re only human and there’s only so much we can do. Shooting for the moon is just impossible, so we have to go for more realistic goals that we can successfully accomplish. It makes more sense to set “small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than one, overwhelming goal,” according to psychologist Lynn Bufka. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”
Losing weight is a popular goal, but it ain’t easy to achieve. We need to make it more specific and attainable. A great way do do this is to rephrase it and say, “I’m going to stop eating at night, or “I won’t eat potato chips, ice cream or cake for 6 weeks.” This is much more realistic because it’s specific and has a specific time frame.
School systems, teachers, counselors, etc. want students to be able to set goals for themselves, but as adults, it’s difficult even for us. How can we expect our kids to make and realize their goals, if we can’t? Here are some simple steps to make goal setting attainable and painless.
- Goals Should Be Realistic: Creating pie in the sky resolutions can be inspirational and fun, but the reality of success can turn your delight into feelings of failure. That’s not what we want for our kids. So, their goals need to be realistic, clear, and specific. John Norcross of the University of Scranton believes, ” If you can’t measure it, it’s not a very good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions. Let’s say you have a child in your classroom named Joey whose goal is to get an “A” in ELA for the year, but he’s a “C” student, so this is unrealistic for him. You need to help him come up with something more attainable such as a “B” on the upcoming test or a “B” on his next report card.. Remember, baby steps lead to success.
- Help Students Come Up with a Reachable Step By Step Action Plan:The best way to achieve this is by including a timeline and finish date, with mini goals that can be accomplished along the way. Remember Joey’s goal? You could help him with a step by step action plan by discussing/suggesting the things he needs to do to get that “B”, ie: finishing his homework, getting extra help if needed, class participation, studying for the test.
- Keep A Progress Journal that Reflects their Journey: Once a week, your students should record their progress or lack there of. At the end of the month, they should take a close look at their journey, and see if their goal has been reached or not. If not, they need to understand why. This would be a great time to conference with them to see where they’re at. If they’re on target, awesome, but if they’re not, help them figure out why. Explain that we can’t always reach our goals, and that’s o.k as long as we give it our best shot. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. The most important lesson is that with determination, hard work, and self reflection we can do almost anything that we put our minds to.
A great way to begin a discussion about goal setting is through some read aloud books that work well with kids of all ages. Here are a few suggestions for you.
- That is My Dream by Langston Hughes, with illustrations by Daniel Miyers….This is one of the author’s most popular poems, dreaming of a world without prejudice and hate, where everyone gets along.
- Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds:The Sammy Lee Story by Paula Yoo…..Sammy is Lee, a Korean American boy who proves to readers that even unlikely goals can be achieved with hard work, determination and persistance as he finally reaches his goal to become an Olympic champion diver.
- She Persisted 13 American Women who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger… This wonderful book shows us that no matter what obstacles get in our way, we should never give up on our dreams. In the introduction, we learn about 13 women who perservered—such as Harriet Tubman, Nellie Bly, and Sonia Sotomayor who refused to take no for an answer.
- The Little Engine that Could by Wattie Piper is a timeless children’s book, about a little engine who breaks down, but is determined to bring her cargo of gifts to boys and girls even though she has no help and has to climb a steep hill. It helps the reader understand that with perseverance, even in a difficult situation, we can succeed.
Last but not least, I’d like to share a New Year Resolution resource that I’ve used with my classes. Click the image.
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