Goal Setting in the New year

Goal Setting in the New year

’Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions, goal setting, and fresh starts! January gives us an opportunity to look at what we want to change, improve, let go of, and reach for in the year ahead. It also presents an opportunity to support the young people in our life as they set goals. But let’s face it, learning what motivates people and knowing how to guide and support them in setting goals can be challenging. Whether you are a parent, educator, mentor, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, consider the following points when talking with young people about their goals for 2024.

Young people typically fall into one of three categories when it comes to goal setting:

The Aim-Too-Highers

These young people shoot for the moon, even though—whether they know it or not—their goal is well out of reach. They are motivated by big aspirations but will be satisfied (or will learn to be satisfied) when they achieve a mark lower than their goal.

It is the goal of the trusted adult to help Aim-Too-Highers pursue their dreams but keep one eye looking for a soft landing place. It’s important to consistently check in with the young person on the small goals that lead to the big goals and ensure they stay tethered to a real plan. The


Through failure and success, these young people have learned to set goals that are “just right.” They know how to pick a path, make a plan, and head toward a realistic, achievable, and slightly challenging goal. They are motivated by setting a specific goal and achieving it.

It is the role of the trusted adult to encourage Goldilocks to continue defining and setting realistic and attainable goals, as this is a strategy that works for them. Trusted adults should challenge Goldilocks when needed and celebrate them when they deserve it.

The Think-Too-Smallers

These young people set the bar low in order to achieve. They are motivated by consistently achieving goals, even if those goals are not overly challenging. They will be satisfied when their results surpass the goals they set.

It is the goal of the trusted adult to celebrate the small victories and promote Think-Too-Smallers’ potential. With each goal the young person achieves, debrief the actions and habits that got them there. With each setback, reset and reinforce that one setback does not define them.

Whether the young people in your care are Aim-Too-Highers, Goldilocks, or Think-Too-Smallers, your role in their life is to help them see what’s possible and set goals that help them get there. Nudge, cheer, encourage, coach, celebrate, challenge, comfort, and—Be Who You Need(ed)!

Are you an educator or an advisor? We’ve created a goal-setting advisory lesson plan to use with your students. Print out OTA's 3P lesson on goal setting for a presence check-in, a Sync and Share play activity, and a poster of possibility template!

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