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Goals: Guideposts for an enriched life

Dec 20, 2012:

Wunderkind

When children to set goals, they do better in schools and life, says S Shyam Sunder

While goals are often set by adults, children and students are largely spared this task. The prevalent idea is that while goals help adults wade through life with a sense of purpose, children have little to gain from setting goals. On the other hand, did you know that setting achievable goals can even help young minds in more ways than one?

Studies have shown that students with goals make clear choices on where they want to go and what they would like to achieve. It tells them whether they would like to score better in mathematics or improve their language grades. It could also tell them whether they would like to choose to excel in a particular sport or become good writers.

This kind of clarity relieves them of the burden of focusing on too many things. Moreover, scholastic performance isn’t the only goal that children can have.


Goals can also be set with regard to health and growth such as growing tall or losing excess weight. Being clear about what they want to achieve helps children build their soft skill capabilities such as concentration and focus.

Goal setting also helps improve children’s sense of discipline and the drive to stay on course and complete the task they have set for themselves.

Finally, goals provide a standard against which children can gauge their progress and help them measure their self-efficacy (a student's "I can" or "I cannot" belief) and their sense of achievement.

In fact, researchers have shown when child participate in the setting of goals, their maths skills improve substantially.

Having clear focused goals helps students
-Gain a sense of pride in their abilities

-Improve their academic performance

-Improve their motivation to achieve

-Improve their self-confidence

-Help them think through their jobs and work towards completing them

-Help them to become independent thinkers and doers

-Build a sense of achievement potential in them

-Gives students a sense of responsibility and control over their learning and achievements

-Shows students that effective effort, persistence and perseverance leads to achievement

-And when goals are set along with others as in a team, it helps build the concept of team work amongst students.

The upside-down pyramid

The process of goal setting is like an upside-down pyramid with the life values occupying the top while daily goals occupying the bottom point. Running the gamut between these two ends are a person’s immediate objectives — goals for the academic year, the term or the week.

Start with the academic year. This is a long-term goal. Write down a goal that you would like to achieve at the end of the year.

And remember to compare your academic yearly goals with those of the previous years. Do you see a difference? That is important.

Then winnow down to term goals. These are goals that need to be achieved by the end of the term or once in three months. A regular review of how you are progressing towards these goals is essential.

Set your weekly goals based on the term goals. This must be followed by daily goals, which you need to achieve in order to keep moving forward.

Tips for goal setting

-Write down your goals. A goal written down is a goal that is alive. Writing down goals helps you to commit to them. Determine the goals you want to achieve and write them down.

-State the goals positively so that you feel energized and excited about them. For example instead of merely writing: “Stop wasting your time,” the goal could be stated as, “Plan my time carefully each week”.

-Set reasonable goals: Whether it is a long-term goal or short-term goal, ensure that the goals are achievable. Because attaining goals helps students heighten their sense of self-efficacy and self-confidence. Unrealistic goals only drain energy and make you feel diffident in the end.

-Ensure that goals are relevant: The goals must be relevant to your core values, interests and abilities.  If you do not agree with your goals and take ownership of them, there is no meaning beind the establisment of a goal.

-Be specific: Do not have vague goals like “I want to be better in sports,” rather write down something like, “I want to get 85% in mathematics.”
n Divide and rule: Sub-divide each larger goal in to smaller achievable goals. This will improve your confidence.

-Anticipate and write down all the obstacles that might come your way. This will help you to plan for contingencies.

-Make a list of all the resources and people who might help you.

-Review your work on a regular basis. This will help you to make corrections and change directions if need be.

-Finally, give yourself a reward, a pat on your back when you achieve a goal, however small it may be.

Remember again, goal setting is not only for grown ups. Learning to establish regular goals and achieving them goes a long way in helping children and students not only become independent thinkers and doers but also facilitates the development of many soft skills which will be of immense help as they grow up. 

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