Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years’ Resolutions: How to Talk to Your Teen about Goal Setting?

Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time to start new goals. There is something about the start of the New Year that makes most people feel refreshed, re-energized, and ready to become their best.

Teenagers are no different. They understand they are starting a new year and they know they have an entire year set out before them. What they may not know, is what they want to do with this year.

Teens have a desire to make good choices and for positive outcomes. This is a good time (not that it’s ever a bad time) for parents to teach children the importance of self-improvement. It is also a good time to teach teens how their choices can lead them in various directions.

Here are steps to help you approach goal setting with your teen and family

If possible, sit down with your entire family and ask each individual where they want to be at the end of 2011. This involves professional and personal goals. Make sure everyone has a pen and paper so they can write down a goal or two maximum (for teens) in each category:

1. Ask everyone involved to write what they would like to achieve in the following 6 categories (give 20 minutes for this activity):

Social: What do you want to accomplish socially? More nights out with friends? Meet new people? Join social groups?

Spiritual: Where do you need to expand with respect to your spiritual journey? Strengthen your relationship with God? Become more self-aware?

Physical: How do you wish to treat your body this year? More exercise and sleep? Healthier food and less toxic substances?

Intellectual: Do you get enough intellectual stimulation? Perhaps more Sudoku puzzles or crosswords? Maybe something more intense like joining a community debate group?

Emotional: Where are you on an emotional level? What can you do to bring yourself into balance?

Career/Financial/ Academic: What would you like to accomplish professionally this year? More money? A new job/career? Better attitude and effort at work? Networking?

I encourage you and your family to set goals within each of the 6 categories. They are all important for a well-balanced life and will meet your psychological needs. I also suggest you encourage everyone to think of their own goals and not to write down goals that others want for them.

2. Ask every member to share what their goals are. Keeping one’s goals a secret means “I don’t want to tell you in case I don’t achieve it.” Verbalizing goals will strengthen everyone’s commitment.

3. Provide positive and supportive feedback. No comments like “Are you sure you can do that?,” or “Pick something realistic” should be spoken. Teach your teen that this is an important activity, to believe in themselves, and show them you believe in them too.

4. Next, ask everyone to brainstorm a plan on how to go about achieving each of the listed goals (allow up to 30 minutes for this exercise). Ask everyone to jot down ideas, words, notes, facts that will be turned into a plan of success. Detailed plans can be created on personal time.

5. After the time is up, take up your answers. By discussing each other’s plan together, you can help your teen learn from you and help brainstorm a secure plan if necessary. This is a good section to discuss with your teen how his/her choices can bring out different outcomes. It is also a good time to discuss responsibility. Everyone is responsible for their own choices. Whoever desires to be successful at their goals has to accept responsibility for the positive and negative choices and to learn how various choices can affect the final outcome.

6. Be sure you and all involved have fun with goal setting. Demonstrate a positive attitude to your kids and to yourself. Self-improvement should not be a dread, but an exciting time. You are about to be a step closer to your full potential.

Interested in more information? Contact Teen Coach in Toronto, Ivana Pejakovic and speak to her about your teen.

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