By the time we’re adults, we’re inundated with information about the importance of goal setting. If you’re a goal-setter, you’ve undoubtedly seen how goals can transform your life. So why not impart some of that wisdom on the teens in your life by helping them set goals for teenagers?
Table of contents
- Why are goals for teenagers so important?
- Where to start with setting goals for teenagers
- Goals for teens: Your future
- Goals for teens: Personal development
- Expert Tip: Teenagers should create goals around the things that excite them
- What is a SMART goal for a teenager?
- What are 5 smart goals examples for teenagers?
- What are some long-term goals ideas for teenagers?
- Articles related to goal setting for teens
- Setting goals for teens can lead to a bright future!
Goals for teenagers are just like goals for adults. They are the key to success in finance, school, the future, relationships, and personal development.
If you’re raising a teenager, are involved in a teen’s life, or are one yourself, read on for some goals for teens that will help guide them (or you!) into adulthood.
Why are goals for teenagers so important?
When you’re a teenager, adulthood, and responsibilities can feel ages away. But it’s never too early to learn how to set goals and achieve them. Doing so can help teens in so many ways. Here are some benefits.
Builds a goal-setting habit
People who make goal-setting a part of their lives are the most likely to achieve their dreams. One way to develop this habit is to start early.
Teens who learn to keep commitments to themselves through building a goal-setting habit can carry that habit into adulthood and will succeed in whatever they pursue.
Teaches the value of dreaming big and taking action
The first step in goal setting is dreaming and contemplating all that could be. Setting goals at a young age teaches teens the value of dreaming big and also taking action to pursue those dreams.
Once they see what is possible when they set their minds to it, they’ll learn that they can accomplish anything.
Builds confidence and self-esteem
One way to combat low self-esteem and also boost confidence is to set and achieve goals.
As teens start to accomplish goals, they’ll begin to see what you’re capable of. Then, they’ll begin to feel confident about their abilities.
Most teens are at that stage where they long for independence, but they don’t quite have it all figured out yet (not that adults do, either!).
Setting goals is an excellent way for teens to learn how to take ownership of their lives and decisions. They can learn to achieve what they choose to achieve, not what others tell them they have to do.
Gaining this type of independence is a very empowering thing to learn.
Where to start with setting goals for teenagers
The best place to start with goal setting for teenagers is to brainstorm! Once you have some ideas, you can start setting short-term goals for teenagers and work your way up to setting long-term goals for teenagers.
Make a list
Sit down and come up with a list of things you want to accomplish. If you’re stuck, ask someone to share their own goals as inspiration.
Once you have a list of goals, it’s best to narrow it down to a couple of goals to focus on at a time. Having a specific goal will make it easier to achieve.
A good way to do this is to keep a running list of goals so you never run out of ideas or forget things you want to do. You can also start a yearly list of goals.
For now, keep your focus on just a few at a time. Consider starting with one or two short-term goals for teenagers. This way, you (or your teen) won’t get overwhelmed with a seemingly never-ending to-do list of goals, which really takes the fun out of it.
Take action to complete your goals
After you have a goal or a couple picked out, learn how to take action on those goals. SMART goals for teens are a great place to start. SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Need some ideas for important goals? While nothing beats a brainstorming session, here are some of our favorites:
Goals for teenagers: Your finances
Let’s start with ten goals for teens that are all about learning to manage your finances and set yourself up for future financial success.
1. Get a summer job
Making money is one of the most empowering things a teenager can experience. If you aim to get a summer job, you’ll be one step closer to the independence many teenagers crave.
You’ll also learn valuable skills along the way, such as searching for a job, applying for one, crafting a resume, and interviewing.
Additionally, having a job at a young age helps build a strong work ethic.
2. Set up a budget
Learning to budget before leaving home is an essential life skill. Setting up a budget will help you take control of your finances and understand what you make, spend, and can afford.
Additionally, having a budget will help prevent you from going into debt in the future.
3. Save for a big purchase
Have your eye on a new laptop for college? Perhaps you want to buy a prom dress that costs more than your parents have budgeted for.
Whatever the item is, a great long-term goal for teenagers is to save for a big purchase ahead of time. If you do this, when the time comes to buy the item, you’ll have saved up enough and will be ready to get it.
One of the key aspects of SMART goals for teens is that the goal is time-bound. By choosing a date you want to purchase the item (e.g., two weeks before prom), you’ll have a precise end date to work toward.
4. Start a side hustle
Side hustles are not just for adults! Some common side hustles for teens include dog walking, babysitting, or blogging, all of which can help earn you extra cash.
Setting the goal of starting a side hustle is a great way to set the stage for continuing that practice later in life.
5. Learn how to use a credit card
Many adults don’t know how to manage a credit card responsibly. One of the reasons? They never learned.
Therefore, an excellent long-term goal for teenagers is understanding how credit cards function and making responsible choices with one.
6. Open a savings account
Where should you put all of your hard-earned money? A savings account is the perfect place!
Open up a savings account instead of keeping your cash in a checking account. You’ll learn how to review your statements, how interest works and become more responsible with your money along the way.
7. Try a no-spend challenge
Spending too much? Perhaps spending so much time on social media has tempted you into buying things you don’t need.
One way to curb your spending is through a no-spend challenge.
One of the most helpful short-term goals for teenagers is not spending any money for a specific amount of time. Try it for a month and see if you can do it!
8. Understand and apply for financial aid
Is college in your future? Then, you’ll want to understand how financial aid works.
While higher education is expensive, setting a goal to understand how financial aid works will greatly help you in the future.
Focus on figuring out what student loans are available and how to apply. Additionally, you can learn and start applying for other resources, like scholarships, to help you reach your college goals.
9. Open a retirement account
Retirement might feel ages away (and it is), but that doesn’t mean you can’t start saving for it as a teen.
Understanding retirement savings and opening up an account is a great long-term goal for teenagers and will make your life easier as an adult.
Most young adults don’t even consider retirement until many years later. Seeing the magic of compound interest at a young age will blow your mind!
10. Start an emergency savings account
Lastly, emergencies can happen to anyone, even teens. Another critical financial goal for teenagers is setting up an emergency savings account.
It’s one of the best ways to prepare for an emergency and protect yourself financially.
Goals for teens: Your future
Whether it’s next year or ten years from now, setting goals for the future can be extremely helpful for teens. For instance, here are some great goals for teenagers and their futures.
1. Figure out a post-high school plan
The first step toward figuring out your adult life is deciding what you want to do after graduating from high school. Maybe you want to attend a four-year university or community college or go straight into the workforce.
Whatever it is, set the goal of deciding what you want to do. Having a goal will stop you from doing something that someone else wants you to do, not what you want for yourself.
2. Achieve a certain grade point average
Are you looking for a relatively short-term goal? A common and great SMART goal for teens is achieving a certain GPA.
Earning good grades can be especially important if you want to pursue college. To achieve this goal, start small. Focus on improving your grades for a semester. Once you’ve started improving, you can focus on achieving better grades for the year or your entire high school career.
3. Talk to adults about careers you’re interested in
Would you want to be a marine biologist one day?
A teacher? A pharmacist? A novelist?
Whatever it is, there’s someone likely doing just what you think you’d like to do. Make it a goal to reach out to someone in a career you’re interested in.
Talking with different professionals will give you a head-start and put you on the right path to understanding what goals you want to set for your career in the future.
If you’re unsure where to start, your first step can be talking to a career counselor to get an idea of which careers best suit you.
4. Shadow someone in a job you might like
Want to take it one step further? Why not ask one of those people you talked to about their career if you can shadow them for a day on the job?
You’ll learn first-hand what a job entails and get some insight into whether it is something you’d like to pursue.
Knowing what the future holds can be great motivation for achieving your other goals, like improving your grades or getting a part-time job.
5. Create a resume
If there’s one thing you’ll need in the future, it’s a resume. No matter what your post-high school plans are, having a resume ready is a crucial step to take.
Set the goal of preparing one. If you don’t have any work experience, you can start your resume by creating a list of your achievements. Your resume can consist of anything from volunteer work, being the captain of the football team, or other extracurricular.
Putting together a resume as a teen will help you build a stand-out resume for the future, and increase your chances of getting a job interview in the future.
6. Take care of your belongings
A very future-thinking thing to do is to take care of your belongings. Think about a new item you recently purchased or were gifted. For example, maybe you were gifted a designer handbag, a new phone, a new pair of shoes, or a new tablet.
How are you taking care of those things? Do you have the proper protective wear? Does a particular item you have need routine cleaning or maintenance.?
Vow to treat your things with respect, and you’ll see how much longer they’ll last and how much money you’ll save since you won’t have to replace things you’ve lost or broken constantly.
7. Figure out what your dream life would cost you
Do you have big dreams and aspirations? Of course you do!
Do you know how much those dreams will cost you? Maybe not.
Instead of waiting until you’ve reached some point in the future, figure out how much your ideal life will cost you today. By thinking about this now, you’ll be able to financially plan for your future all that much more accurately.
8. Learn to speak up in class
Speaking up in class can be intimidating. But school is also a relatively safe space to build public speaking skills.
While using your voice more in class may not seem like an audacious goal, it can help you become confident enough to speak your mind in different areas of your life. Not only will this skill help you stand out from your teachers, but it can also help you in your future career.
9. Register to vote!
Voting is one of the most powerful ways to have your voice heard. Register to vote as soon as you turn eighteen (or, in some states, even before that big birthday).
Registering to vote works well if you’re looking for SMART goals for teens since it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
10. Keep a running list of goals to work toward in the future
While you can’t accomplish all your goals at once (there isn’t enough time in the day!), you can keep a list of life goals.
Keeping a running list will help you stay focused and aid in your personal growth as you get older. Also, having a list of financial goals can be very useful as you get older and start making more money.
You’ll never run out of ideas if you always jot them down when they come to mind.
Goals for teenagers: Relationships
Relationships are the key to a fabulous and fulfilling life, from friends to family to romantic partnerships. That’s why it’s a great idea to set some goals around relationships, for example:
1. Eat dinner with your family once a week
Teenagers have some of the most hectic schedules out there. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the time to eat a meal with your family once in a while.
Why not try eating dinner with your family once a week? You’ll be out of the house soon enough, so take advantage of the time you have left living with your family.
2. Plan a family trip
Does your mom always plan family vacations? You’re old enough now to have a say in it.
Make it your goal to plan the next trip from start to finish. Research destinations and flights, develop a budget, find places to stay, and book activities.
Not only will you take on a big task for the family, but you’ll also learn many new skills along the way.
3. Start a new family hobby
Family time doesn’t have to be dull! Why not try something new together?
There are endless hobbies – from outdoor hobbies like hiking to indoor hobbies like baking – that you can do as a family.
4. Have a family game night
Another way to spend time as a family? Break out a traditional board game and have a weekly (or monthly) family game night!
This goal will help bring your family together and is a lot of fun.
5. Do a service project with friends
Community service is one of the most impactful ways a teen can give back to their community.
By doing a volunteer project with your friends, you’ll reap many benefits together, like higher self-esteem and helping those less fortunate.
6. Spend time with childhood friends
Most people have a friend or two from childhood with whom they’ve drifted apart.
If you have someone like this in your life, someone you once shared great times with but who you have lost touch with, try reconnecting.
Make it a point to schedule time with this friend at least once every two months. There are many free and fun things to do with friends on the weekend.
7. Make a new friend from a different social circle
Friendships with people who are different is one way to open your eyes to other perspectives.
If you tend to stick to the same type of friends, a great goal is to try to make a new one outside of your usual peers.
8. Learn what a healthy romantic relationship looks like
Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, your teenage years are the perfect time to learn what a healthy relationship looks like.
By understanding what a healthy relationship looks like when you’re ready for one, you’ll be more empowered to stand up for yourself and only accept the best. With this understanding, you are more likely to have emotional security and a better sense of happiness in your future relationships.
9. Find an adult you can open up to
An adult who understands you is one of the most valuable resources you can have as a teenager. While it could be one of your parents, an older sibling, or another family member, it doesn’t have to be.
Find a teacher, a community leader, or a boss–someone you admire and feel comfortable sharing with.
10. Become a supportive friend
Knowing how to be a supportive friend and set boundaries is a quality that will serve you for your entire life. When you show up for your friends, whether it’s cheering them on at their soccer game or being available for a late-night phone call, you’ll strengthen your bond.
Just remember that support should go both ways – your friends should be there for you when you need them, too.
Goals for teens: Personal development
Personal development isn’t just for someone in a crisis. Everyone can benefit from looking inward and working on themselves.
For instance, here are ten personal development goals for teenagers:
1. Read a non-school book over summer break
During the school year, teens are inundated with reading and homework. Summer break is usually a welcome time away from all of that work.
But that doesn’t mean putting down all books. Take this opportunity to read something fun just for you. No book reports are required!
Reading a no-school-related book can help you discover topics you never knew you were interested in.
2. Find a cause you care about and volunteer
Don’t wait until you’re an adult to find a cause you’re passionate about! Teens can also make a huge difference in the world.
Choose an organization or a cause you feel strongly about and spend time learning about it and volunteering your time.
3. Start a journaling practice
Journaling is one of the simplest ways to clear your mind and a great way to practice self-care. Teens have a lot of emotions, and it can be hard to express them.
You can use journal prompts to get started or open up a blank notebook and let your thoughts flow.
4. Start a meditation practice
Another excellent way to focus the mind? Meditation is one of the most beneficial long-term goals for teenagers. It can help you clear your mind, and protect your internal peace.
You’ll create a more profound sense of calm by taking just a few minutes out of your day to focus on mindfulness.
Starting a daily meditation practice is an excellent goal for teens who are experiencing anxiety or have lots of stress in their lives.
5. Learn how to cook a complete meal
Most teens still live at home, but soon enough, you’ll be out on your own. Which also means you’ll have to find your own food.
Instead of relying on take-out or pre-packaged meals, cooking your own food, even if you dislike it, is healthier and a great way to save money. Bonus points for serving that meal you’ve mastered at your next family dinner!
6. Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill is a classic goal for teenagers and adults alike. The reason?
Learning something new, like an instrument or a card game, engages the mind, builds confidence, and has many other mental health benefits.
7. Try out for a sports team
Is there something you’ve wanted to try out for but haven’t yet? It doesn’t matter whether or not you make the team (not even Michael Jordan made his high school basketball team right away!).
Set the goal of just trying to see what happens and what you learn from the experience.
8. Complete a non-school project
It can sometimes feel like everything you do is for school. But not all SMART goals for teens need to be centered around accomplishing something for school or your college resume.
By completing a non-school project, like building a treehouse or getting a yoga certification (really, the possibilities are limitless!), you’ll gain confidence and have fun doing something just for you.
9. Learn how to make and take care of your appointments
Someone has made dentist appointments, haircuts, and everything else for your life. Soon, though, you will be responsible for all of those appointments!
With the help of the adults in your life, try to take responsibility for these. For example, call the dentist and make your next appointment, write it down on your calendar, and practice being in charge of your life.
10. Create a morning or evening routine
Teens are old enough to take ownership of their own mornings and evenings. It can be empowering to start your day how you want to instead of haphazardly or rushed.
Create a morning or bedtime routine to structure your day and get more of what you want done!
Expert Tip: Teenagers should create goals around the things that excite themTeenagers are often focused on the now. As result, creating goals for the future might seem overwhelming or unimportant to adolescents.
To help them get excited about goal setting, focus on creating goals around things they are already interested in. Once they’ve achieved a few simple goals, they’ll feel more motivated to achieve bigger and more long-term goals.
What is a SMART goal for a teenager?
A specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goal for a teenager can be around academics, extracurriculars, or sports. For instance, a SMART goal could be getting a 3.5 grade point average or straight A’s for an entire semester.
Other non-academic goals include joining the varsity football team in your third year of high school. There’s also starting a new club for the second semester or making a new friend outside of your social circle before school ends.
What are 5 smart goals examples for teenagers?
Teenagers have many options when setting SMART goals. They can focus on financial goals such as getting a summer job, saving enough money to buy a new phone, or learning to make money independently. Financial goals are also helpful in supporting teens in gaining financial literacy.
If you have teenagers who want to focus on things outside of school, they can create a SMART goal around hobbies. Examples of these goals could be to learn to play the piano by the end of the year or learn to ride a skateboard in six weeks.
When it comes to creating long-term goals for teenagers, examples of SMART goals are getting accepted into a four-year college, earning $1,000 by the end of high school, or meeting with a childhood friend once a month.
What are some long-term goals ideas for teenagers?
Long-term goals for teenagers are great because they help keep teens focused on the future. Long-term goals can be about getting into a specific college, saving a certain amount of money for graduation, learning to invest, or learning a foreign language.
Other long-term goals for teenagers can be to:
- Start their own business
- Save for retirement
- Start a specific career
- Reach 100% attendance
- Buy a used car
- Save money for prom
- Get your driver’s license
Articles related to goal setting for teens
If you’re looking for ways to help the teen in your life become financially savvy, these articles will give you advice and guidance.
Setting goals for teens can lead to a bright future!
There you have it! Forty important goals for teenagers to have.
Whether you decide to set SMART goals for teens or take another approach, setting goals from a young age helps to set a mindset of success.
Choose a goal from the list above, or come up with one of your own and see how powerful goal setting can be!