Author of "How To Live An Awesome Life", Polly Campbell joined us to talk about setting achievable goals for the new school year.
1. Pick better goals.
Pick a goal that fits your larger values and feels authentic and possible. If your child sets the goal to study two hours a night, but he has soccer practice a pat-time job, and family responsibilities too, that may not be a realistic. Something has got to give. Evaluate your family values and have your student consider what matters most to them and then set goals that aligns with your greatest values.
When you choose a goal that is meaningful, authentic, and doable, you’ll persist longer.
2. Be aware of the obstacles – and there will be some.
Often, we are thrown off track when we hit an obstacle or have a setback. Deal with this before you even start with mental contrasting.
It works like this: When you consider where you want to go – the goal you want to achieve – and contrast it with your current experience – where you are now — then you are better able to identify the obstacles you may encounter between here and there and can put a plan in place to overcome them.
3. Declare if/then goals.
This strategy helps you identify what you want to accomplish and also helps you establish a framework to do it. Ifit’s Tuesday, then I’ll spend 20 minutes reading. If my teacher assigns math homework, I will do it immediately when I return home. If it’s a weeknight, I won’t watch television or use technology until I’m done with my homework.
Then, you don’t have to use so much self-control or willpower at the end of a long day to persist on your plan, you’ll simply know what’s expected to keep on track, and do it.
4. Take baby steps.
If your daughter wants to go from the bottom to the top of her science class, that’s not going to happen the first day. When we impose unrealistic expectations on ourselves, we tend to get burned out and discouraged and more likely to quit. Instead, shoot for improvement, growth, and solid effort. Then, help her map out small steps that can be done each day to move her closer to her goal. Maybe she wants to improve at science so she spends an extra five minutes a night reading her science books. Maybe she begins working with a tutor once a week, or sets up regular meetings with her teacher. Goals don’t have to be accomplished overnight.
5. Try a little self-compassion.
Setbacks, challenge, and frustration are as much as about goal achievement as success. Note and celebrate your child’s progress. Acknowledge her setbacks, but teach her to avoid self-criticism. Setbacks can show us what we need to do to adapt to keep on track. Encourage her to take a deep breath, identify the challenges and start again. People who treat themselves with kindness even after setbacks are more likely to accomplish their goals.