You don’t have to be an adult to make goals – making goals is smart for teens, too. Starting early in your teenage years helps you navigate life as a high school student, and it sets you up so well for college, higher education, your 20s and beyond.
Obviously with different ages comes different goals – the goals of college students or someone in their 20s probably won’t be the same as the goals for someone in their teens. So what are some smart goals for teenagers to make?
First, let’s talk about the best way to set an achievable goal or long-term goals that feel out-of-reach.
The SMART framework is a great tool for teens to start to make smart goals (see what we did there?!). If you haven’t heard of SMART goals, it’s a goal-setting method that people of all ages to utilize in order to achieve success, both personally and professionally.
SMART works as an acronym in this case, and stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
What are SMART goals?
What does all of that really mean though?
Specific: The first step to smart goal setting is making specific goals. Don’t be too broad.
You need to be specific so you know exactly what you want to accomplish. If it’s too vague, lines can get blurry, and you may not be able to fully tell if you’re on the right journey.
Plus, by being specific, you can better identify the resources needed to help you reach your goal and it’ll help you better shape your path to getting there.
Measurable: Make sure you have a way of tracking progress, as that’ll show you if you’re successful in reaching the goal. To make a measurable goal, ask yourself how you plan on tracking your progress. Give yourself a certain number to reach after a week or a month, to keep you accountable and help you see you’re on track.
Achievable or Attainable: Your goals should be reachable, not unrealistic – that’ll just set you up for failure. A lofty goal may set you up for failure if it’s not attainable. When you’re thinking about this, be sure to consider your current schedule and commitments, as well as any costs that may arise on your path to reaching your goal, such as a cost to a class or certification.
Relevant: Your goal should make sure where you are in your life right now. So if you’re a teenager, your goal shouldn’t be something that’s better suited for someone older.
For instance, your goal as a teen shouldn’t be to become CEO of a big company just yet. That’s totally cool if that’s your goal once you’ve finished school, but probably isn’t realistic right now.
Time-Bound: Make deadlines! This will keep you on track and help create some structure. Also be sure to be realistic about how much time it’s going to take you to reach this goal, and how much time you have to work towards this goal.
Now that we know what SMART goals are, the next step is to figure out what your goals are. As the “S” in SMART stands for specific, here are some specific, smart goals for teens.
12 Highly Specific Smart Goals For Teens Who Are Motivated
These 12 examples of smart goals for teens are customizable and can be made to work for you! In setting your own goals you’ll learn more about yourself. By using the smart goals framework you’ll see your hard work turn into rewarding success within the next year.
“I want to get an A on my next exam or paper.”
This is probably one of the most common goals for teens, and for good reason! You should strive for better grades (and to always be learning). But if you want to implement the SMART method, get even more specific.
Which class do you want to get an A in? When is the test/essay due? What steps are you taking to raise your grade? For instance, allot 15-30 minutes each day to study for the exam or to get some writing done. Academic success isn’t just about the good grades, it’s about building good habits for your future.
“I want my productivity to improve.”
Let’s be honest, most of us can use some help when it comes to productivity. There’s so many distractions out there (thank you, social media). How can we be more productive, especially with busy schedules?
Set timers for yourself to get things done. Close out of all the apps on your computer. Put your phone in another room or in a drawer and turn it on silent or do not disturb.
Give yourself X minutes each day to be productive, but remember to figure out what you want to be productive about first.
“I want to finish this book.”
You may love reading and want to up the number of books you read per year. Or you may just need to finish a book for class by the end of the month and you’re just really not into it. Whatever your reason may be, you need to finish that book.
Tell yourself you’re going to read X amount of pages per day or for X amount of minutes per day. When you’re doing that, go into a room with minimal distractions, aka leave that phone somewhere else.
Figure out when you want or need to finish the book by and work backwards to see how many days it’ll take you to get there – that’ll help you figure out how long you need to read for each day or how many pages you need to read each day.
“I want to get better at public speaking.”
Public speaking is a fear of many, but it’s something that almost no one can escape – you’re going to have to speak in public in the future whether it’s at a friend’s wedding or leading a work meeting. Get comfortable with it and get practice in during your teenage years! Or maybe you dream of auditioning for the school play but aren’t comfortable yet.
If you have a class that you have to give a speech in, there’s your end-goal. If you don’t, ask your parents or friends if you can do a mock presentation to them a few weeks from now. Write out note-cards, practice in front of your mirror or your bestie, and you will gain the confidence to give a public speech.
“I want to apply to college.”
If you’re in your junior or senior years of high school, you know the stress that comes with college applications. Instead of a vague goal of “getting my applications done for college,” stick a number on it. Be more intentional.
Tell yourself you’re going to apply for at least five colleges. Then figure out the things you want in a college.
Do you want one nearby? What about what specific major you want to study? Do you want a big school or a small school? Once you have figure this out, tell your goal to your academic advisor and they can help you identify which five (or more – whichever number you decide!) schools would be best for you to apply to. Write down the name of the schools, and every time you submit a new application, cross it off your list.
“I want to get a part-time job.”
You want some spending money, we get it. Part-time jobs, or seasonal jobs if that better suites your schedule, are great ways for teenagers to do this. You will likely need to apply to more than one part-time job (but kudos to you if you land the first one you apply to!).
Again, this means that you should have a number associated with it – like telling yourself you’re going to apply to five different part-time jobs. Figure out the five places you want to apply to, write them down, and once you submit the job application, cross that place off your list.
“I want to minimize my stress.”
Ah, don’t we all. But starting as a teenager can help you set good practices for your 20s, 30s, 40s, and so on. But how can you measure this? This one is tricky, but you can measure the things you are doing to actively help you minimize your stress, like how long and how often you exercise and mediate for.
You also should try and get specific here too, such as figuring out what stresses you out the most and focusing on minimizing that stress. For instance, if tests totally stress you out, in addition to meditating and exercising more, also take into account how often you are studying for too.
Have a special journey where you can write down every time you meditate, exercise or study. Also take advantage of meditation apps and gym memberships – or if your school has a gym you can use or yoga classes you can take.
“I want to get more sleep.”
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teenagers between the age of 13-18 years old should sleep 8-10 hours per night. Are you getting that much sleep (or too much?!). If you are, you may want to re-evaluate your sleeping patterns and make that one of your goals.
Figure out how many hours of sleep you want to get each night, whether that’s 8, 9, or 10 hours. Then work backwards from the time you need to wake up.
For instance, if you want to get 9 hours of sleep each night and if you have to get up at 7 AM for school, you’ll want to get into bed at 10 PM every night. On weekends, set an alarm for 8, 9, or 10 hours after you go to sleep.
“I want to figure out my future career.”
Teens, we know you’re ambitious and may already be thinking about your career. This is especially likely if you are applying to colleges that have you declare a major from the get-go. One great goal you can make as a teenager is to research different potential career options you may be interested in the future.
Again, put a number to this so it’s not too crazy, like three different ones (at least to start off with). Come up with a plan of researching the careers online or setting up time to talk to someone who’s already in that career.
Come up with questions that you think will be important to you to either research or ask. One big one you should definitely look into? “What’s your work-life balance like?” It may not seem like a big deal right now, but it will be once you’re working full-time!
“I want to be on time for things.”
Time management is so important. If you are always late, that may be a habit you want to break now in your teens. It won’t fly as well in college or when you have a big meeting at work!
Make your goal specific but attributing it to turning up to class 5 minutes early or by showing up to your outside of school plans 5 minutes early.
If you take the bus or public transit, take the earlier one. If you are driving, leave earlier than you usually do. In your head, if you need to be somewhere at 11 AM, from now on think you need to be there at 10:55 AM.
“I want to start being more independent.”
Yes, as a teenager you live at home and it’s great to have your parent’s help – trust us, those in our 20s are envious of this as times. But we also get you’re starting to have more independence or you want to have more independence. Get specific about what you want to be independent about, whether it’s doing your own laundry, cooking your own meals, saving money from your allowance, etc.
Once you know this, get specific. Tell yourself you’ll do your own laundry once a week. Tell yourself you’ll cook for yourself – or even better for your family – once a month. If you get an allowance, save X amount of it that you will not spend just yet.
Another perk of this goal is that your parents will definitely see how independent you’re being and likely give you even more independence. They’ll surely appreciate the help, too.
“I want to hang out with my family members/friends/grandparents more.”
Your social life is important! Don’t forget that. It’s not silly at all to have a goal about social goals.
First figure out who or what you want to spend more time on socially. Do you love your grandparents and want to talk to them more? Set up weekly calls with them!
Do you want to get together with a bunch of your friends more frequently? Start a “first Friday of the month” movie night and make that a tradition. Do you want to meet new people? Join some clubs or teams at your school or be part of new volunteer activities.
Meaningful goals are an effective tool to personal growth, but you need to build an action plan with smaller steps to achieve them. Practicing setting smart goals is a great way for young adults to minimize low self-esteem and build up confidence.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals For Teens
Hopefully these smart goals for teens examples will help you set effective goals—whether they’re academic goals, personal goals, or long and short-term goals.
Whether you are a teen or looking to encourage one, these goals will help you point the arrow in the right direction. Good luck!