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Goal Setting for Teens

Teen life can be one of the most stressful stages in life, and dealing with it without an organized plan only makes it worse. That is where goal setting comes in to help you achieve your dreams!


A day in the life of a teenager consists of a lot of stuff…

On any given day, an ordinary high schooler juggles school and work, cramming in numerous extracurriculars, sports, school and community service projects, study time, hobbies, household chores, and, last but not least, attempting personal development practices such as goal setting

While it can be hard to acknowledge, the latter often falls by the wayside at the end of a long day, wouldn’t you agree?

If you are, in a nutshell, familiar with feelings of over-exhaustion and under-accomplishment, it may be that you haven’t found yourself in a position to set goals as of yet. Or maybe you’ve tried, but haven’t succeeded because you can’t quite figure out how to go about it.

Making goal setting a part of your daily hustle and bustle can turn those unwanted, big feelings of stress and overwhelm into fiery feelings of success and accomplishment. 

In this article, you will discover just what it takes to make goal setting a part of your daily routine – no frills, fuss, or burnout involved! You will learn how to easily and properly set goals and clear objectives for yourself so you can become a part of the goal-getter squad once and for all!

What we’ll cover:

  • Why goals and goal setting are important
  • How to set good goals
  • Example goals
  • How goals and money are connected
  • How your parents can help you set and track goals
  • What to do if you fail to hit your goals
  • Activities and apps to help you set and track goals

Let’s get started!

Why Goals and Goal Setting is Important

Most high schoolers go through periods where they’re unsure or feel indecisive on what their goals are, what their goals should be, and how they can achieve them.

Though setting goals is obtainable for folks of all ages, teenagers significantly benefit since they are old enough to face a goal head-on yet young enough to utilize their youthful exuberance and sharp mind to carry a goal all the way through. With a unique advantage in setting goals, teens are likely to set them based on academics, relationships, personal accomplishments, or post-graduate plans. This makes them perfect candidates for setting the best goals that are most promising for their future!

Here are a few reasons why goals and goal setting are important:

  • Builds Self-esteem/Be Yourself – Remember that setting goals is about you. Your parents, mentors, and peers may have their expectations and therefore can try to push you towards a certain direction, but when you realize that whatever you do benefits you, you’ll be able to make the best decisions and goal choices for yourself.
  • Develop work ethic – If you are a teen that finds yourself working and earning money, you’re one step closer to the point where a future career and the real world meet. This experience will also naturally enhance your value as an employee (or boss!). If you don’t have work experience, consider starting small by helping elderly neighbors get groceries every week or by babysitting on parental date nights. 
  • Be a Problem Solver – When you immerse yourself in effective goal-setting, you are building critical thinking and problem-solving skills without even knowing! These skills will also take with you to college, along your path to adulthood, and in many other areas of your life.

Now that you know some of the reasons why setting goals is important, you can start setting and working only towards goals that make you better and are important to your future success.

How to Set Good Goals

A S.M.A.R.T. goals method is the “smartest” way to bullet-proof goals and accomplish them. Follow this acronym step-by-step to break down your goals and understand what it takes to achieve them:

Specific – Keep your goals clear and simple for easier planning.

Measurable – When goals are easier to track, they allow you to see your progress.

Actionable – When your goals are actionable, it ensures the steps taken to get there are within your control.

Realistic – Avoid feelings of stress and overwhelm by making the goal realistic and practical.

Time-Bound – Having a time frame in mind helps you stay focused and gives you something to look forward to.

Remember: The S.M.A.R.T. framework was created to distinguish between good and bad goals to know if a goal is worth setting or forgetting, and to give you all the reasons you need to obtain one.

Example Goals

Here are some example goals to help you take the SMART approach to achieve your goals. Make sure to download our goal setting worksheet for teens to help you create some goals for yourself!

Weak goal: I want to set a study schedule.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal:

  • Specific: When I am home from school or in a quiet environment for at least one whole hour per day, I will use that time exclusively to study.
  • Measurable: I will track my progress using a goal-setting journal or tracker to log my weekly hours.
  • Actionable: I will make time to go to the library twice a week on Mondays and Fridays since there are no activities or work to be done on those days.
  • Realistic: I am somewhat of a studious child who has friends who also take time to study regularly. Sometimes we study as a group.
  • Time-bound: I will implement studies into my schedule during the school year.

Here are some other ideas for S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  • Learn a skill, like playing an instrument or sewing.
  • Finishing strong by getting good/better grades toward the end of the school year.
  • Get better at planning projects and tasks.
  • Improve on hobbies and talents.
  • Start journaling to improve your writing skills.
  • Learn to drive/get a driver’s license.
  • Save up money for a car by working a job.

How Goals and Money Are Connected

While goals improve your overall mindset, financial goals improve your money mindset. And who doesn’t like money? In fact, our goals either relate directly to money or take money, resource-wise, to fulfill. 

If you are a working teen, some of your goals may involve saving or investing to achieve the goal. It may be something you want to buy or a place you want to go.

If you are a non-working teen, you may not be earning money, but some goals, like learning to drive and buying a car, require money to come from somewhere, whether your pocket or your parents.

The goal here is not to be so money-centered but more money-conscious. Setting money goals will help you to be a financially responsible adult in the future.

How Your Parents Can Help You Set and Track Goals

Your parents likely have countless experiences with setting goals. They know firsthand how to set a goal and can guide you in developing your own. Reaching out to them for help would make them proud because it tells them you are ready to take a step towards being a responsible, self-sufficient young adult. 

Talk to them about helping you start by first giving them a list of goals you currently have. They can give you their input and tell you which ones are short-term, intermediate-term, long-term, or worth pursuing now or later. This will help you focus on the goals you should start setting first.

What to Do If You Fail to Hit Your Goals

This is another excellent opportunity to talk with your parents. They have goals they’ve failed to achieve and can share their experiences with you. You can ask them questions to know how and why they failed, if they were able to achieve it at a different time, or if it wasn’t very good to begin with. 

Your parents will jump at the chance to help you so that you don’t make the same mistakes. They also realize that you have to make your own mistakes, and knowing they are here to support you will help you to get through your wins and losses much more easily. Don’t forget to bounce back and keep the goal-setting going.

Activities and Apps to Help You Set and Track Goals

The most effective way for teenagers to learn is when they can create, engage, and interact through hands-on/mind-on activities. Start with this list to get your brain churning for setting goals!

  1. What Do You Really Want?: How to Set a Goal and Go for It! A Guide for Teens – This awesome book acknowledges the pains and frustration that can come from setting and sticking to goals and gives you guidance on how to work through those feelings and build up your confidence and motivation for setting your own goals.
  2. Focus and Thrive: Executive Functioning Strategies for Teens: Tools to Get Organized, Plan Ahead, and Achieve Your Goals -This book lays out some great strategies to help teens ages 13 to 17 build executive functioning skills to help with focus, organization, and time management.
  3. Growth Mindset Journal for Boys: A Space to Embrace Challenges, Set Goals, and Dream Big – Self-inspire with this journal for boys to help them embrace challenges, set goals, and dream big!
  4. You Goal, Girl: A Goal-Setting Workbook – Here’s a goal-setting workbook for girls to shape up their personal and career goals!
  5. BetterUp Goal App – This app has a seamless way of getting you focused on wellness, career development, and much more! Sign up and get a free coaching session!
About the Author

Christina Ezeagwuna

Christina is a professional writer with 7+ years in entrepreneurship, opening a rental baby furniture business in 2016 that she still runs today. Christina is a mom of three budding, financially savvy kids and works as a content manager for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement.

Last updated on: September 12, 2023