Set Goals for Growing: Talk About It

Father helping daughter with homeworkWhere You’ve Been, Where You’re Going

Being goal oriented is somewhat like having a sense of direction in life. Where do you hope to go? What are you doing to get there? These kinds of questions are important for everyone, but they can be particularly significant to young people, particularly adolescents, who are sorting out who they are and their place in the world.

These discussion-starters encourage you to talk about hopes, dreams, and goals in your family. Look back on what you’ve already done to achieve goals. Look forward to anticipate how what you’re doing now sets the stage for what’s next.

Discussion Starters with Your Kids

  1. Looking back, what is one goal you’ve met that you’re really proud about? What helped you accomplish this goal?
  2. How has setting goals helped you in the past do something that is important to you? If you haven’t set goals, how has that affected you, if at all?
  3. What is a goal you’ve had that you haven’t reached? What got in the way?
  4. If you could wish for one thing to happen in your life or your family in the next five years, what would it be? What goal might you set for the next year that could bring that wish closer to reality for you?
  5. Think of someone you know who is particularly effective at planning and working on goals. What does she or he do that seems to make a difference?
  6. Who are people who you have turned to who have supported and guided you as you have worked toward goals? How has that made a difference?

Discussion Starters with Other Parenting Adults*

  1. In what ways are being goal- and future-oriented difficult or easy for your child?
  2. Many parents struggle to get their kids to think beyond what’s happening right now. What, if anything, have you done that helps them take a longer view?
  3. How do you motivate your kids to focus on their future? What works? What doesn’t?
  4. If your kids have a goal for the future that you disagree with or that you don’t think is possible, how to you respond to them?
  5. When do you think it’s important to let kids take responsibility for their futures by setting their goals, planning, and taking actions on their own? How long—and how—do you help out?

* These parenting adults may include your spouse or partner, extended family members, friends who are parents, or a parent group or class.

Next Steps

  • Learn about what being goal oriented means and why it matters.
  • Try activities for building the attitudes, skills, and habits family members need to reach goals.