We talk a lot about SMART goals for teens on this website and on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages because we are big believers in everyone’s ability to improve their chances of success. But, I also realize that learning how to define each goal as a SMART goal is not so easy if you haven’t had any practice doing that. The very first time I sat down with my own kids to turn their goals into SMART Goals, it took quite a few tries and discussions back and forth to walk them through the process that would give them a “stretch goal” that was also defined in enough detail that they could now work off of their activities list or action plan. I even looked for examples of SMART goals for teens, and honestly I didn’t really find much to go on.
As a consultant and project manager for over 20 years, I learned a lot of what I did by looking for examples of “best practices”. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?
I will try to pass along my many discussions with my own kids, and the kids I’ve coached recently, to give you very specific examples of SMART goals for teens.
Can teens really define SMART goals for everything?
Well, yeah, pretty much. Whether your teen is into academics, sports, music and arts, health and nutrition, or saving some money, there’s a SMART goal for that! 🙂 You can read more about the SMART goals and why teens are ready to learn this methodology in this Blog post.
You will find that each one of your teen’s SMART goal will look different depending not just on what the goal is, but what their starting point is for them, what needs to happen to “fill that gap” that is keeping them from achieving the goal, and most importantly, why this goal is important to them. Goals are much easier to get excited about, and have the motivation to work on them, when they are driven by an intrinsic reward. And let’s face it, sometimes all it takes is knowing the first step so you can take it!
Defining a SMART goal will help your teen go from:
Here’s 5 examples of SMART goals for teens that will help them get started on the right track!
SMART Goal for Academics:
Let’s say your teen already does pretty well in school. But, like with many students, there is that one class that needs some work. Your teen’s initial goal may be a basic description but a little vague… something like “I will get an A in Science”.
What would this look like as a SMART Goal?
I will get an “A” in Science (specific) by studying an extra 30 minutes per day (measurable). During these 30 minutes, I will:
- review my notes from that day,
- read the related sections of the textbook,
- and write down any questions I have to ask my teacher (actionable).
It’s important to me to reach a 3.5 GPA (relevant) so I can apply to the college of my choice. I will reach this goal by December 20 (time bound).
SMART Goal for Sports:
An incredibly high number of middle schoolers and high schoolers participate in competitive sports. This usually means extra training, tryouts, private coaching sessions, and very busy schedules. A SMART goal for sports could be defined to join a traveling team, playing varsity in high school, or achieving a state ranking high enough to be noticed by college coaches.
I’m going to use as an example the SMART Goal that my son defined to become a better tennis player:
I will be selected to the varsity team of my high school’s tennis team (specific). To do this, I will have improve my tennis rating from a 5 to a 6 (measurable). The way I will improve my tennis (actionable) includes:
- 30 minutes of serving practice every day
- 2-3 hours of tennis clinics (or match play) 4 days per week
- 30 minutes of footwork training every day
- 2 tournaments per month
I am excited about representing my high school in tennis (relevant). I will reach my goal by December 31, 2019 (time bound).
SMART Goal for Music and Arts:
Music and Arts covers a very large set of areas… so there could be so many variations of goals related to joining the school band, getting the lead in a school musical, or having your piece of art be highlighted in the school’s Art Walk. Again, I’ll use here an example from my kids.
My son has loved drama class all through middle school. Eighth grade was the big year where they got to put on a musical, Mary Poppins. With 7 years of dance training, and 3 years of acting, he didn’t have much singing experience. He knew he was going to put on some serious work to get the male lead role of Bert since he had never really sang. When auditions were scheduled, he realized that he had a very short 2 months to work on his singing. To stay focused and motivated, he came up with this SMART goal:
I will be chosen for the role of Bert (specific) in my school’s 8th grade musical Mary Poppins. I will improve my singing by practicing at least 1 hour every day until auditions (measurable). My practices will include learning the lyrics, breathing exercises, practice proper singing posture, and singing the musical’s songs every day (actionable). This goal is important to me because it will be exciting to have my friends come watch me perform (relevant). The due date for this goal is the date of auditions (time bound).
SMART Goal for Health and Nutrition:
Most of us can probably benefit from better health and nutrition, right? Middle and high schoolers have such busy lives, and so do the parents of middle and high schoolers! Sometimes it’s not easy to keep the right foods at the house all the time. But it’s critical for teens to develop good eating and exercise habits now. This will help them make good nutrition and exercise choices when they get to college.
Maybe they want to look and feel better. Or they want to improve their results in the Physical Education class requirements. Maybe they just feel sluggish or easily get sick. A healthy diet and regular exercise will support your teen’s brain and body, giving them the energy to get more done every day!
What would a SMART goal look like for your teen in the area of health and nutrition?
I want to run a mile in 9 minutes or less (specific and measurable!). To reach my goal, I will do these activities 4 days per week (actionable): stretch for 5 minutes, run for 15 minutes, run intervals for 10 minutes. This is important to me because I want to do well in my P.E. evaluation (relevant). I will reach this goal by November 1 (time bound).
SMART Goal for Saving Money:
This was the first summer where I spent as much time driving my kids to do “stuff” with their friends, as taking them to tennis and dance practice. All of a sudden they needed money for movies, and lunch, and going to the mall… So, we sat down and talked through a plan for them to cover their own expenses for all their fun activities. This gave them the motivation to work on extra projects around the house, while it helped me out by freeing up my time to work on my business (and the app that we’ll be releasing in the next month, yay!).
Their SMART goals were pretty similar for both kids, and looked something like this:
I will earn $100 (specific) by July 10 (time bound). I will complete all my chores to earn my normal allowance. Also, I will work on 5 hours of extra projects every week (measurable). This will allow me to earn the money to enjoy going out with my friends (relevant). Every week I will (actionable):
- clean my room, do my laundry, and make sure all my stuff is put away
- put away my own dishes, empty the dishwasher when it’s done, and wipe down the kitchen counters
- wash my mom’s car, and vacuum the inside
- water the plants and clean up old leaves
- wash and clean the patio table
- [insert your own home project here… 🙂 ]
This was at least good enough for covering their fun this summer. A SMART goal to save more money to buy a car, or even just cover insurance and gas expenses, would look similar. For example, your teen could run their own babysitting, dog sitting, or dog walking business, and have goals to put aside a percentage of that money towards a “car fund”.
Tell us about your teen’s SMART goals!
If you’re working with your teen to help them define their own goals, I hope that these examples of SMART goals for teens will be helpful to have as a starting point, or as inspiration. We’d love to hear from you on our Facebook page, My SMART Teen, and let us know if these worked for you, or if you have an example of your teen’s goals that you think would help other parents. Also, tell us what other areas your teen needs help with in defining SMART Goals… we are happy to help!Connect with Teen SMART Goals on social media!