Achieving goals when you’re young is a great way to set yourself up for success later in life. Not only will the goals themselves help you, but working towards goals will foster character traits that will help you overcome numerous circumstances you may encounter in your life. There are many steps you can take to make yourself a young goal achiever.
Building Skills to Accomplish Goals
1Work on your time management skills. Most goals will require you to schedule your day to make sure you have to time work on your goal on top of school, sports, activities, and chores. Developing good time management skills will help you find time in the day to work on all your responsibilities with the minimum amount of stress. It is best to start working on these skills early on. That way, not only will you be better equipped to accomplish your short-term goals, but you’ll have the necessary skills to succeed in your education and career as well.
- Make a list of your responsibilities. By putting your tasks down on a list, you are visualizing what you have to do. Then when you’ve written all your responsibilities, prioritize them. Is something on the list due tomorrow, while the others are due next week? That item has suddenly taken priority. Do you have two tests to study for, but one subject you’re in danger of failing? Focus more on that subject. Remember to cross things off your list as well, so you can visually see the progress you’re making.
- Focus on one task at a time. While many people brag about multitasking, it often doesn’t work out so well. By doing on multiple tasks at once, you’re not allowing your full potential to focus on any one area. This is an inefficient usage of time. Instead, keep yourself focused on one task at a time so all your energy goes into it.
2Avoid procrastination. Many people suffer from excessive procrastination, teenagers especially. Unfortunately, this quality will get in the way of your goals if you never get anything done. Break this habit as soon as possible if you want to accomplish your goals.
- Focus on starting a task instead of finishing it. If you keep thinking about how much work you have to do to finish something, you’ll lose your motivation to do it. Instead, make yourself start the task. That way, once you get started, you can build up momentum and work until the end.
- Give yourself a reward when you finish something. If you have something to look forward to, you can stay motivated to work through the task. For example, you could say you’ll play your favorite video game as soon as you finish your math homework. But remember to not give yourself the reward if you don’t finish the task- that just teaches your brain that you’ll get the reward anyway without doing any work.
- Stick to deadlines. You can’t expect your time management to improve if you don’t have any deadlines. This will teach you that you can procrastinate as much as you want without any consequences. Set deadlines to force yourself to manage your time properly and make sure you’re focusing your efforts on the task at hand.
- Work somewhere with no distractions. If you do your work in the TV room, it’s very tempting to reach over to the remote and flip the TV on. Eliminate those temptations by changing your work environment. Work somewhere there is no TV, music, or noises that will distract you. This will help you stay focused on the work at hand.
3Learn about many different topics. When you’re in school especially, you’ll have to take many different classes and pass them, even if you’re not interested in the subject. By developing a curiosity in different areas, you can help keep yourself focused on tasks or subjects you find boring. This is important because as you try to achieve your goals, you may have to learn about or do things that you didn’t intend to. If you’ve already prepared your brain to do this, you’ll be ahead of the curve when you try to accomplish goals.
- For example, say your goal is to become a doctor. You knew you would need to know about things like biology and anatomy, which are subjects you like. But you may not have realized the amount of math you’d have to do in medical school. If you’ve prepared your brain to focus on subjects you have less interest in, you’ll have a much better chance of succeeding in this situation than if you had blown off math in school.
4Know when to take breaks. Although being able to work for hours at a time is a good skill, it’s just as important to know when you need to take a step back. While it may seem counter-productive, taking a break from your work actually helps make it better. When you’re tired, your brain doesn’t work as effectively. By taking a break, you help your brain recharge itself so you can come back to your task fresh. This can help you have that breakthrough you’ve been waiting for.
- Say your goal was to win first prize at the science fair for your robot design. But you’re having a problem with the mechanism and you just can’t figure out why. After working on it for several hours, you’re exhausted. This is the time to take a break. When you walk away from the task and do something you enjoy, you’ll help your brain recover. Then, while your brain isn’t being forced to work under pressure, a light bulb goes off in your head and you realize why your robot wasn’t working.
5Learn to deal with and overcome failure. The most effective way of overcoming failure is to restructure these events as learning opportunities rather than seeing them as an end. It’s a part of the success process. Failure is actually not a bad thing, since it can teach us how to be successful. People should welcome times when their efforts don’t work. 
- Focus on the positive aspects of your life. After failure, it’s tempting to dwell on everything that went wrong. But this overshadows everything that is still good in your life. Instead of thinking about your failure, think about what you still have going for you: a loving family, friends, certain skills you have, and anything else that is positive. By thinking about these positives instead of the negatives, you can work through your failure and set yourself up for future success.
- Distract your mind by doing something you love. If it’s difficult to stop thinking about your failure, distract yourself. Watch a movie you like, play video games, read a book, play sports, or do anything else you love. This will distract your mind and get good hormones flowing to help you feel better.
- Avoid substances. It might be tempting to deal with failure with drugs or alcohol, but they won’t help you. You might momentarily forget your troubles, but the problems will still be there when the effects wear off; not to mention you’ll have new problems if you make a habit of using substances.
- Get help if you need it. If you’re having trouble coping with a failure and are feeling depressed, there is no shame in asking for some help. Talk to your parents, teachers, or a counselor at school and let them know how you’re feeling. It doesn’t make you a weak person to admit that you’re going through a tough time. These people can help you see that such feelings are temporary and you’ll be able to work through them.
Discovering Your Goals
1Think about something you’d like to improve. Oftentimes our goals come from something we’re not happy with or something we think can be improved. If you’re looking for a goal, start by finding out if there’s anything you could improve upon. Think about your grades, batting average, or extracurricular activities; are you happy with where you’re at with these, or do you think you could do better at any of them? If you need improvement anywhere, this is a great first goal to have. That way you’ll learn how to accomplish manageable goals while also improving an area of your life.
2Think about your strengths and interests. Another strategy for developing your goal is thinking about what you are good at. This way, you can further improve an area that you’re already strong in. You’ll probably find it easier to stay motivated when pursuing something that you already enjoy.
- For example, you may already be a good track runner. You can run a mile in 5:30, the third fastest time on the team. Since you enjoy track and know you’re good at it, a good goal would be improving your mile time. You could set a goal to take ten seconds off your time by the end of the season and work towards that.
3Think about what kind of future you’d like to have. This is an overwhelming question, especially for a young person. But having even a slight idea of what you want to do or where you’d like to be in the future is a great help for you. That way, you can start working early to get experience that could help you accomplish your long-term goals.
- You may decide when you’re a sophomore in high school that your goal is be to become a vet. After doing some research, you see that vet schools prefer applicants with a lot of prior experience working with animals. With this information, you start volunteering at local animal shelters to gain experience. By having a long-term goal in mind, you were able to start taking actions that will make that goal a reality.
- Read Achieve Long‐Term Goals for more ideas on how to develop and accomplish a long-term goal.
4Talk with parents, teachers, or counselors. If you’re having trouble coming up with a goal, there are plenty of adults you can ask for guidance. If you ask your parents or teachers for help, they can talk you through your interests and guide you to an attainable goal.
5Set your own goals instead of trying to achieve someone else’s. When you’re young, it’s not uncommon for parents, teachers, or coaches to set goals for you. They often have your best interests in mind, but they may not be taking into account what you really want. Before trying to achieve a goal someone else has set for you, think about it carefully. Is this something you really want, or are you doing it to please someone else? It will be difficult to stay motivated on a goal that isn’t your own. Taking on that kind of goal could leave you feeling unfulfilled and depressed later on. Set goals that are important to you to avoid this outcome.
6Determine if your goals are unrealistic. While it’s good to aim high when setting goals, you don’t want to end up with a goal that is too far out of reach. That way, you could end up frustrated and end up quitting. To avoid this, carefully evaluate your goals to see if they are indeed attainable. Read Get Rid of Unrealistic Goals for details on how to eliminate unrealistic goals and make them more attainable.
Planning to Accomplish Your Goals
1Break your goal into smaller sub-goals. Most goals, no matter how small, can be further divided into more specific tasks. That way, you can focus your energies on these smaller tasks and more easily accomplish your larger aim. This is one of the most effective ways to achieve goals. Read Achieve a Big Goal by Breaking It Into Smaller Onesfor a more detailed description of how to effectively divide up your goals.
2Set up a timetable for your goal and sub-goals. It helps to set a date that you would like to achieve your goal by. This will help you stay focused and committed to working on your goal. Set timetables for the overall goal, and for each smaller task you break that goal into. That way you’ll always know where you stand and if you need to adjust anything.
- Say your goal was to improve your batting average. You should set a definite timetable for that goal so you stay on track. Say that you’d like to raise your average .100 by the end of the season. Also break up the timetable further to create benchmarks. Say you’d like to improve .010 this week, .010 the next week, and so on. That way, you’ll always know where you stand in relation to your goal’s completion.
3Identify obstacles you might encounter. When working towards any goal, it is almost inevitable that you’ll experience hardships. The key is not avoiding obstacles, but planning for them. If you anticipate problems ahead of time, you can have a system in place for overcoming them.
- If you hoped to raise your GPA by the end of the semester, it’s possible that you’ll end up taking a hard test and not doing well. This will set you back, but the only way to work past it is to stay positive and study hard for the next test. If you let yourself get too down about it, you won’t be able to improve your grades at all.
4Tell your parents or others about your goal and ask for help if you need it. It’s very possible that you’ll need help in achieving your goal, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of asking for help if you need it. Even adults ask for help when working on their own goals. Tell your parents, teachers, and coaches about your goals and be sure to keep them updated if you need any help.
- If you’re finding it harder than you anticipated to raise your GPA, ask your teacher about extra help. He can offer you advice and schedule tutoring sessions to help you reach your goal.
5Assess your setbacks. When you’re pursuing a goal, there is a chance that you could experience a setback or fail altogether. While it may be discouraging, remember that failure isn’t a reason to quit. You just have to see what went wrong and work to remedy it for next time.
- Examine what you did and try to find out where you went wrong in your goal attempt.
- Also see what you did right, as you can build upon this in later attempts.
- Adjust your approach based on what you did right and wrong. Repeat this process every time you experience a setback to keep yourself on the right track to accomplish your goals.
6Keep moving forward after you accomplish your goal. When you finally attain your goal, there will probably be a “Now what?” moment. You might feel a little lost after you complete something you’ve been working toward for such a long time. After taking a well-deserved rest, there are several ways you can keep moving forward when you finally do reach your goal.
- Set a new goal. Keep your momentum up by working towards something new. If you had more than one goal from the beginning, move on to the next one on your list. If not, go through this article again and use the previous techniques to develop a new goal.
- Push your original goal further. Say your goal was to take 10 seconds off your mile time and you achieve it. Who’s to say you can’t take 5 more seconds off? Keep pushing yourself past your original goal to see how far you can go.
- Work to maintain your progress. Some goals aren’t just one-time events and require work to sustain the progress you’ve made. Weight loss is a good example. After you lose a certain amount of weight, you might feel like you don’t have to work anymore. But this isn’t true, and many people gain back weight with this mindset. You might also feel like you don’t have to study anymore after you’ve raised your GPA as far as you wanted. Instead of falling into this trap, use the skills and habits you’ve developed on your long journey to maintain your success.