Setting Goals with Youth: The 5Rs

10039094174_3c103f2c02_mAsking youth to set goals is an important step in allowing them to establish their own learning path and  create a framework for learning new skills. Goal-setting can be a cumbersome task for some youth – leaving them feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and uninspired. These are the exact opposite feelings you want to evoke when aiming to motivate young people. We want young people to understand that goal-setting can be fun and beneficial to their success in our programs and beyond.

In order to create a more positive experience with this process for the youth we serve at the Tech Center, I have created “The 5Rs to Setting Goals.” This process is intended to be a concise approach to guiding youth through the act of creating goals for themselves in a productive and straight-forward way.

The 5Rs to Setting Goals

1. Refine  – Clearly describe your goal. Make sure your goal is specific and if it seems too vague, try to narrow the goal. Remember, small steps lead to big success!

2. Reason – Why do you want to accomplish this goal? How does this goal effect other goals you have set? Where does this goal fit in your learning path? Where do you want this goal to lead you?

3. Realization – Describe how you plan to reach your goal. What is your plan? Clearly list each step you think you will need to take to achieve this goal and then start working on those steps.

4. Resources  – What will you need to help you meet this goal?  Who do you know who might be able to help you reach your goal? List the resources, materials, tools, and people you may need to make your plan successful.

5. Reflection – Take time to reflect on your goal. Did you achieve this goal?

  • Yes! – What contributed to your success? What went well? What is the next goal in your path?
  • No.  – What went wrong? What changes can you make to your plan to be sure you meet this goal? Make those changes and try again.

*Revisit – Goal-setting is a constant cycle and this process is designed to be a constant cycle as well. As you meet your goals and achieve some success, there will be new goals to create and new outcomes to aim for. Each time a goal is achieved, come back and use this process as a guide for creating a new goal.

We will be using this approach with 30 youths this fall during our Maker Foundations program where we are asking students to create goals each month as part of defining their learning path and narrowing the focus of their work at the Tech Center. Later this year when we introduce youth participants to their Mentors and pair them with Tech Coaches, this process of goal-setting will help the whole team work better to aid youth in reaching their goals and achieving success.




Stephanie Grimes