Learn it Yourself (LIY)

Set Goals and Make Them Happen

Personal development plan mind map. It includes topics such as personal goals, make it smart, goal strategies, self-discipline, and set more goals.

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Why Set Goals?

No matter what you want to do – learn something new, get better grades, get into college or university, or get your dream job – setting goals will make it possible.

Research shows that when you make a goal AND write it down, you are way more likely to achieve that goal.

Achieving your goals is easier than you think….


Your Goals

First you have to choose a goal. What’s it going to be?

If you’re part of RTG, you’ll need to set a both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals can be completed in about a month, like arranging to get extra help sessions for a certain school subject. Long-term goals are goals that can be completed by the end of the school year, like completing a particular course related to your career goal.

Let’s start with one long-term goal. Now’s your chance – write it down.

There, you just did the hardest part of goal setting: getting started.



Now take your one goal and make it S.M.A.R.T.

Don’t know what that stands for? This infographic will clear it up for you.



Let’s add one more letter to the mix – “Y.” If you’re going to remain committed to your goal, you have to know WHY you’re doing it. When your goal seems too hard, remind yourself why you’re doing it to refocus.

If you’re part of RTG, write your goal and all its S.M.A.R.T.Y. parts into myBlueprint.

- Question: What does S.M.A.R.T.Y, stand for?

1. Special Motivation And Realistic Timeline Yours
2. Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely whY
3. Significant Measurable Actions Realistic Truth Yay

Test-driving S.M.A.R.T.Y.

Let’s break down exactly how to make a S.M.A.R.T.Y. goal using a fake goal.

Fake goal: Stop losing things.


S – Specific:

  • Is my goal specific enough?   
  • What am I going to do?
  • How am I going to make this goal happen?
  • What are the baby steps I need to do to achieve this?

Fake goal:

  • Stop losing my keys
  • Baby steps
    1. Install a hook by the front door to hang keys on
    2. Put keys on a neon yellow key chain
    3. When I’m out, only keep keys in a specific pocket

M – Measurable:

  • How will I know when I’ve achieved this?
  • What concrete results will I see?

What concrete results will other people see?

- Question: Which is a measurable example of the fake goal?

1. When I can easily find my keys
2. When I’m not freaking out all the time about where my keys are
3. All of the above

A – Attainable:

  • Is this goal attainable?
  • Is it attainable for ME?   
  • If it’s not attainable, how can I change the goal to make it attainable?

Fake goal: Yes, as long as I stick to the baby steps


R – Realistic:

  • How committed am I to this?
  • How realistic is my dedication to pursuing this goal?

Fake goal: I’m committed – losing keys is stressful


T – Timely:

  • What’s my timeline for this?
  • What is a timeline that will fit into everything else that is going on in my life?

Fake goal: One month – it usually takes about 3 weeks to make a new habit


Y – whY:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why is this goal going to help me?
  • What will happen when I achieve this?

Fake goal:

  • I’m doing this because I hate being locked out of my home
  • Achieving this goal means I won’t have to rely on other people to help me get into my own home

Goal Strategies

With your S.M.A.R.T.Y goal written down, use these strategies to help make sure you’ll make that goal of yours a reality.

  • Reflect and document your progress (in a video, blog, audio, journal, voice recording, in points or sentences, – it doesn’t matter.) It may sound silly but research shows it will work
  • Reward yourself when you make progress. Build rewards into your goal plan.
  • Predict what will stop you from working on or achieving your goal. Make an “if-then plan” – if X happens, then I will do Y to get back on track


Fake goal:

  • Forgetting about this goal may stop me from achieving it
  • I will put up post-it notes on my bathroom mirror to remind me of it each day
  • If I forget my keys, I’ll look at the situation to help not forget them again – was I in a rush? Was I stressed?
  • At the end of each week that I remember my keys, I will find a small way to reward myself

Self-Discipline and Marshmallows

Goals don’t happen instantly. Self-discipline plays a major part and it is a better predictor of success than IQ.

Which one of these kids in this video of a marshmallow experiment will be more likely to achieve their goals?

Which kid are you?

- Question: Question: How does the marshmallow experiment relate to achieving your goals? A) (Pop-up: ) B) Self-discipline is not easy but it is rewarding because it helps you set and stick to your goals (Pop-up: ) C) (Pop-up: Nope)

1. Eating marshmallows is a good goal
2. Self-discipline is not easy but it is rewarding because it helps you set and stick to your goals
3. Your IQ determines your goal achievement


Procrastination is the enemy of goals. Beat procrastination with the following tips:

  • Do something – anything! You’ll start gaining momentum and then you’ll begin to have the motivation to keep going.
  • Revisit the Y of S.M.A.R.T.Y. Why are you doing this? How will your life be better when you achieve this goal?
  • Tell someone about your goal. Someone who can hold you accountable and encourage you to keep going. If you’re part of RTG, this person can be your mentor.
  • Investigate why you’re procrastinating. Is the goal unrealistic? The time line? Did you set this goal because you felt you had to? Do you need to break the goal down into even smaller steps? What do you need to get out of the lump of procrastination.


So you failed and didn’t achieve your goal – now what?

Learn from it! Failure is useful only if you figure out how to make things different in the future.

Everybody fails. But not everybody keeps at it and keeps trying.


Celebration Time!

So you achieved your goal – now what?

Celebrate! Seriously – acknowledge that you’ve worked hard.



Don’t stop there, document how you were successful. What and who helped you make this goal happen? What did you learn about yourself in this process that will make achieving your next goal easier?

And then set another goal and go through the process again!


Next Steps – Personal Development Plan

Life is a long series of goals. School, developing your interests, and career planning are no different.

Use the other RTG modules about creating an ePortfolio/Online Identity, Online Privacy, and Career Planning to help you set and meet your goals.