When Goal Setting Doesn’t Work

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There are countless articles about the use of goal setting to accomplish most anything. At GoalUP, we focus on using goal setting as a tool for helping children gain self-confidence, change undesirable behavior or develop new positive habits. There are some instances when goal setting doesn’t work – here are some examples:

  • When the goal is too big. In the business world, sometimes referred to as the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). This does not work well for children, especially those who might feel overwhelmed with school work or the prospect of cleaning a really messy room. Breaking a big project into smaller, achievable goals will help to outline the steps necessary to reach the bigger goal, and also provide a stress-reducing plan to follow.
  • When the goals are imposed upon you. To be fully invested, the child must believe in the goal and be involved in the process. When the parent sets the goal for the child without any input or agreement, there is little chance it will be accomplished.
  • When the work required is not worth the reward. Kids especially are interested in the NOW. The momentum necessary to reward a child in June for work done all through the school year will be very difficult to maintain. The longer the period between goal setting and achievement, the larger the reward that will be expected. The more immediate you can reward progress, the better. Breaking a large overarching goal into smaller steps allows you to reward smaller achievements in a shorter timeframe. The beauty of the GoalUP platform is that your child can choose the reward they’re working toward while in the goal-setting process.
  • When the goal is not connected to a plan to execute. “Earning all A’s and B’s” on a report card may be a valid goal, but a plan to accomplish that is also necessary. How much time each day will be spent on homework? If the teacher or a tutor is available, how much time will be spent with them? What subjects will be covered? What other steps must be taken to ensure the higher grades?
  • When the goal encourages focus on the wrong thing. Effective goal setting focuses on developing good habits and positive behavior. Be sure that the child understands the process and doesn’t perceive that achieving the goal by any means is critical. If the child perceives that they will need to cheat in order to achieve all A’s and B’s, it’s time to go back to the goal-setting drawing board.
  • When the goal addresses the short term to the detriment of the long term. Likewise, if the plan to earn all A’s and B’s in this card marking means that household chores, eating dinner together as a family or other responsibilities will be neglected, there is a flaw in the plan.

Goal setting does work when it’s done thoughtfully and properly. The GoalUP platform walks you through the steps of effective goal setting. You’ll track progress and reward achievement, all online. Take a look at our site for parenting tips on using goal setting as a powerful tool to motivate your children.

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