23 proven goal setting tips for your mentoring journey with teenagers

23 proven goal setting tips for your mentoring journey with teenagers

Did you set goals when you were a teenager? Did you ever have someone who helped you with goal setting? If you did set goals, how effective was the process you followed? Did you achieve your goals or did you quit? Did you always feel you were reaching your potential?

I have been a goal setter for most of my life. My goals motivated and inspired me to stay focused and to stand up to negative peer pressure on occasions. While I might not have achieved all my goals, I learnt much about myself through the process – and continue to do so – and enjoyed that amazing feeling when I did manage to achieve a specific goal, be it academic, sport, relational or pursuing a hobby or some other activity. What did I learn from the experience?

Well, the truth is that I am still learning! Although now retired, I still set annual goals and break these down into monthly goals, because I want to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle and enjoy a fulfilling life.

The work I have done over the years as a teacher, sport coach and mentor of teenagers ALWAYS involves goal setting, as I have learnt that, when a young person starts achieving their personal goals, they begin to find meaning and purpose in their lives, they are more motivated and happier.

23 proven goal setting tips for the mentoring journey

These tips can be adapted by Mentors to the particular community in which they are working. Remember, goal setting comes, for the most part, after you have established a connection with your mentee and some feelings of trust exist, a process that could take up to six months! Much will depend on the background and current circumstances of your mentee. Always seek to make goal setting a fun and enjoyable aspect of the mentoring journey.

  1. Have a clear picture (your personal photograph) of what you want to achieve.
  2. Make sure the goal you are working towards is something you really want to attain.
  3. Always write your goal as a positive visualisation statement.
  4. Always write out your goal in complete detail.
  5. Always ensure your short-term goals are small, specific, realistic, achievable and measurable.
  6. Ensure that your goal has a clear deadline.
  7. Make a list of anticipated obstacles and see how many can be converted into positive opportunities – is there someone you trust who you can ask to help you with this?
  8. Identify all the skills, information, knowledge, resources and help from people and organizations that you will need to achieve your goals.
  9. Always ensure that you have a clear plan of action in place.
  10. Remember that goals change as you mature. You need to review them regularly, adjust them when and where necessary, thus reflecting the growth in your personality, your life changes, your priority changes and new opportunities.
  11. Don’t let goal setting become your master – goals must bring you real pleasure, satisfaction and a sense of achievement. If this is not happening, revisit them. 
  12. Personal factors such as tiredness, other commitments and the need for rest etc. should be taken into account when you set your goals.
  13. Don’t set too many goals at any one time.
  14. Start the goal setting process with small, specific, measurable and easily achievable action steps and then begin to stretch yourself a little more as your self-confidence increases.
  15. If the goal involves somebody else, you should first obtain the permission and support from that person before you write down the goal.
  16. Be consistent and have the courage to act and to take non life-threatening risks.
  17. Set challenging goals that require energy and self-discipline to achieve.
  18. Reward your progress towards the achievement of your goal – celebrate every small step.
  19. Focus on your goals on a daily basis (consider placing your goals in a video/DVD which you can often refer to, perhaps share with someone you trust, and placing them in a Diary/on your mobile phone).
  20. Consider setting your goals after you have discussed management of time with someone you trust, remembering that you manage your own time.
  21. Ensure that your goals are aligned to your values, your mission, your purpose in life.
  22. Rid yourself of the negative factors in your life; the negative people (wherever possible).
  23. Use your failures as learning curves for planning future successes. 

Next week I shall share some tips for Mentors as they journey with teenagers on the goal setting pathway, a journey that will help teenagers develop resiliency and become positive, well equipped people of influence.

About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organizer, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in New Zealand and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Twitter @million2016coxy or on Facebook (where you are able to join a closed mentoring group) or contact him through his Mentoring Matters website  Robin’s free Mentoring Matters daily podcasts (each podcast between 1.5 and 3 minutes), containing hundreds of tips for anyone working with young people, are available here.