Developing short-term goal setting skills for middle-school children contributes to academic achievement, positive self-esteem and a focus on self-improvement. A key element of setting short-term goals is developing an understanding of what conditions can and can’t be controlled by the individual. Of equal importance is identifying the big picture and how short-term goals may contribute to a larger accomplishment. However, it can be difficult for middle-school children to grasp the importance of goal setting.

Goal Identification

Start by taking inventory of your talents, interests and strengths. Next, make a list of everything you would like to accomplish right away. Review your ideas and choose the goal that excites you the most. The goal you identify must be something that you have control over and that is possible to achieve in a short period of time. For example, a goal indicating you will be a starter in the next seventh-grade basketball game is not something you can achieve by yourself. A goal that states you are going to run 2 miles per day for one week to improve your speed and stamina would be a better choice.

After you have identified a goal, it's time to consider what it will take to get it done. The most important thing you can do is search within yourself and reaffirm you’re committed and ready to move forward. You should also think about what resources might be helpful. For example, if your goal is to read a book in one week, what will you need to accomplish this? If you live in a noisy house, maybe you need a quiet place to read. If this is going to require a ride from your mom or dad or permission to ride your bike to a library, ask in advance so you are prepared.

Breaking It Down

Setting a goal and accomplishing it can be a daunting task. Simplifying the goal into manageable pieces will make it seem more possible. For example, if your goal is to complete a science project by the end of the week, make a list of everything you will need to do to get it done. Prioritize the tasks and assign one to each day of the week. Having a schedule will help you stay on track and following the prioritized to-do list will ensure it will be completed. If you are unsure about how to start, seek the advice of a parent or teacher.

Obstacles and Rewards

As you plan your strategy for achieving your short-term goals, think ahead about what possible obstacles you might encounter. Time vs. task is one of the most important considerations. For example, if your goal is to practice piano for one hour during the week but you have evening commitments that will interfere, you may need to alter your goal. Anticipating potential obstacles will help you set realistic goals and be more successful. Finally, plan a reward to celebrate your accomplishment. A prize at the end of your journey will help you stay motivated even if it is just the satisfaction of a job well done.

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