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How To Set Goals for Teens – The SMART Goals Method

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The setting of actionable, smart goals begins earlier than one might think, and it takes time and practice to master. Teachers and parents will witness children begin setting goals as early as seven-years-old; for example, a 7-year-old will start to save their allowance to buy a game or toy. However, the pre-teen and teenage years will mark a turning point for their goal-setting tendencies, and we as adults need to help them cultivate their goal-setting skills.

Let’s introduce a popular method for goal-setting: the SMART method. Originally, this provided managers a better way to assist their employees in creating, defining, and measuring performance goals for an increased likelihood of success.

The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, and its effectiveness extends beyond the workplace.

The SMART system can be used for any goal you’re looking to achieve, whether for work, school, or something more personal like saving money! Specifically, this article will review how teens can apply SMART goals to their lives.

An Introduction to SMART Goals

smart goals in high school


Create a clear definition of the goal. What do you need to accomplish it, and what steps will you take to complete it? Use questions like the following to create a specific definition:

  • Who is required to perform the tasks to complete the goal? Is it only the individual, or are other parties involved, like a group project?
  • What is the end goal, and what is needed to perform the tasks required to complete it?
  • Where will the tasks take place?
  • Why is this goal important? 


  • What milestones will you use to measure the goal? 
  • Will it be quantitative or qualitative? In other words, Is this a goal you can measure with statistics, or is it something that is measured by observation, like earning a diploma or a good grade?


  • Do you currently have the skills and qualifications needed to accomplish the goal? Think of your skills in conjunction with your availability. If you have enough time to complete the tasks, your plan becomes more attainable.


  • Does this goal serve your long-term objectives and, ultimately, your idea of success? It’s easy to get too ambitious when deciding SMART goals, especially when broken down into achievable tasks. However, focus on what is both realistic and doable (think quality over quantity). 
  • Ask yourself if completing this goal can lead to a more significant achievement, e.g., pay raise, higher grade point average, or add to your feelings of self-worth.


  • When do you want to complete your goal successfully?
  • Set milestones with specific dates and times to keep you on track. 
  • By breaking down larger goals into smaller tasks to hit each milestone, you have a higher chance of completing your goal quickly and efficiently.. You can also assign a time limit to each task to achieve them.

The Importance of Goal-Setting for Teens

smart goals for 2022

When teens begin setting goals, initially, they can seem overwhelming and unachievable. However, by giving teens tools like the SMART technique, we can provide them with the resources they need to develop their goal-setting skills successfully. Also, with a method like SMART, goals become easier to create, accomplish, and measure.

SMART goals for teens can include minor tasks, like setting a study schedule, or longer tasks, like organizing a major project, or significant objectives like earning their diploma or studying abroad. Other goal examples for teens include:

  • Completing class assignments
  • Advancing skill levels
  • Setting a plan to achieve a better grade
  • Receiving a job promotion
  • Prioritizing mental and physical self-care

Benefits of Using SMART Goals for Teens

  • Developing an organized plan to achieve your goals can increase motivation to succeed and provide a sense of self-satisfaction.
  • Goal-setting develops essential soft skills like time management, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, etc.
  • Goal-setting ensures that you can pursue your ambitions without overburdening yourself and getting overly discouraged.
  • You become a forward-, outside-of-the-box-thinker, working today on what will lead to greater success tomorrow.

An Example of a Long-Term SMART Goal

Specific: I want to become a counselor at a sleep-away camp during the summer, and it requires teacher recommendations and a CPR certification.

Measurable: I will make a checklist of tasks I need to complete to apply. I will connect with teachers who will be willing to write recommendations, and I will register for a CPR class.

Attainable: I have babysitting experience and am known for my sense of responsibility. I am willing to take different roles at the camp to join the staff.

Relevant: This will be a valuable learning opportunity and will start building my work experience for my resume. It will help me save pocket money for the following school year.

Time-Bound: I will create a plan to gather my application sources by February, apply by and prepare for the interview by March, and prepare for the summer by May.

Who’s ready to put together your SMART goals for 2022?

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