How to Set Achievable Goals for the New Year

Want to set a New Year’s Resolution that not only sounds good, but is feasible to achieve too? Goal setting is a national past time during this time of year as we reflect on what we have accomplished and what changes we can continue to make as we evolve into the person we strive to be.

The first step to success is to be realistic in terms of size and scope of the goal. No one is saying NOT to shoot for the stars and become bikini ready…just opt for bikini ready for 4th of July and not Spring Break. Setting realistic time frames will prevent a defeated attitude since you are not setting yourself up to fail.

Along with this, you need to identify realistic short-term goals that will help you to master smaller steps on your way to your larger goal. Short-term goals help to modify the long-term goal and reduce overwhelming feelings and increase accountability. For example, if you’re child wants to make a resolution to become more organized, don’t assume that by the time winter break is over they’ll be a wiz.

Create manageable short-term goals to help reach a long-term goal.  For example:

Long term goal: Become more organized

Time-frame: By the end of the academic school year

Short-term goal 1: Write down all homework assignments

Writing down homework assignments is the first line of defense when becoming more organized. This allows the child to have one central log of everything they are responsible for doing. Even if your child maintains that they have the best memory, writing all this information down allows the child to see a visual representation of their responsibilities, it allows for a checklist to cross-reference ensuring that all assignments are completed (they can cross the assignment out when it is completed). Students these days often have multiple sources in which they may be told about an assignment whether it is through their classroom teacher, listed in a syllabus, or located on the Internet. By writing everything down in their assignment notebook, this provides one source and step to complete. Additionally, it is important for the child to take recording this information down one step further by also writing down what materials they will need for this assignment (ex. math pgs. 25-30 *need math book). This also serves as a precursor for the following short-term goals.

Short-term goal 2: Create locker checklist to remember all essential materials to bring home for homework completion and make a similar home checklist to ensure all assignments return to school.

A simple bullet-point outline that breaks down the steps to leave school and return to school can help your child stay on track and organized. The transitions at the end of the day, and the beginning of the day, can be chaotic times for your child. Breaking down the steps to pack up for school can help your child stay organized and present in the moment. Laminate a sheet for their locker that states:

1. Check assignment notebook to see what I need (materials, folders).

2. Put materials and corresponding folders in my bag.

3. Do I have everything? (School work, hat, gloves, etc.) *This allows for a revision process that also helps in achieving organization when we stop and reflect.

Laminate a sheet for the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, and garage door that says the following:

1. Do I have everything I need? (lunch, assignments, violin, books)

2. Is everything in the right folder for easy access?

3. If not, stop and check to make sure that all assignments are in the right folder.

Short-term goal 3: Keep folders and binders organized and make sure that all subjects are placed in correct place.

Organize subjects by color. Allow for journals and folders to be color coded to provide for optimal organization and recognition of subject. Make one side of the folder for papers handed out, and the other side for homework assignments needing to be completed. This will allow your child to keep track of their papers and know how to access their homework for prompt submission. If there are quick passing periods or limited time for organization of material, find a blank folder to house all these materials. Then, at the end of the day, the child should sift through their Misc. folder and allocate their papers to their corresponding subject.

Short-term goal 4: Keep large, visual wall calendar to house all assignment due dates to help with prioritizing, time management and to prevent against procrastination.

Keeping a visual representation for assignments will help your child learn time management skills, another critical factor for organization. Color-code each subject’s assignment to see the differences and different due dates. Help your child define a study schedule or an outline to break down longer-term assignments. This will prevent your child from prioritizing an assignment that isn’t due for weeks in favor of allocating their time to complete a more time-sensitive task first.

As this example demonstrates, by setting a goal and breaking it into manageable pieces, any goal is reachable this new year!  Good luck with your goal!

For more on setting smart goals for the new year, click here!

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