How Are You Helping Teens Reach Their Goals?

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You can’t help it, I can’t help it, it’s the New Year which means it’s time to set goals and make resolutions.  For some of us it’s all personal, lose 10 pounds, read more (especially of this blog) or spend more time with family.  For others of us we have professional goals from big projects to how we organize our receipts.  Goals are great because they give us direction and purpose; however, two months, weeks or even days in you mess up, slip, give up, beat yourself up and then you are done.
When it comes to the next generation same issue applies; however, we (the older generations) give them a harder time when they fall short.  We blame them for being lazy, apathetic and inconsiderate; however, we never take the time to consider that they may not know how to actually create and achieve a goal.  We put the pressure on them to do so; however, we never give them the application to follow through.  Why is that?
It’s probably because we aren’t sure how to go about it ourselves.  It’s not the most attractive process; however, it’s not as complex as we might make it.  It involves:

  1. Writing Out The Vision: You really can’t dream too big; however, how big you dream will dictate the journey it takes to get there.  Encourage your teens to write down their goals on a sheet of paper, a white board, or  a t-shirt.  The purpose of writing down a goal is to make something intangible seem tangible.
  2. Setting Benchmarks: After they have their destination have them create mini goals to keep them moving.  Running a marathon isn’t as simple as saying, “I’m going to run 26.2 miles.” you need to break it down into the first 5 miles, the last 10K, etc.  When it comes to achieving our goals, make we need to lay out the steps it takes to get from point A to B.
  3. Recruit Fans: This is especially important with this next generation, they head into a project thinking, “I can do this on my own.”  You and I know that we hit seasons of busyness and chaos, which can lead to hopelessness.  Encourage them to share their goals with others (even if they seem small) because they’ll need the encouragement when doubt becomes their largest obstacle.
  4. Be Flexible: Failure is okay; however, it doesn’t need to be the final destination.  If they hit a stumbling block, have them go back to the plan, talk with others and accept the fact that they don’t have to get it right the first time.  One value we all forget to embrace is persistence.

Goals without a plan are unachievable.  This concept might seem obvious; however, it’s one that we can easily overlook.  A teen not achieving a goal could be attributed to laziness; however, chances are no one ever showed them how to follow through to the end.  As youth leaders we have the responsibility to cast out that vision and give them a plan.  Even if it’s not the only way, it’s one that’s been carefully and thoughtfully put together.

How do you help teens achieve their goals?