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Writing Great Goals

Keys to Writing Great Goals


General Goals are just the first step in making dreams come true. Once students have established general goals and have identified what appeals to them, they should be taught to write specific goals the way winners do.

Since I have listed the criteria for great specific goals and steps for writing them on a student goal writing worksheet, rather than explain the process again, I will only make a few suggestions about teaching this part of the goal writing unit.

It would be helpful for you to read part I of this goal writing series before proceeding since students will be using work they did from that section.

Suggestions for Teaching Students
To Write Specific Goals

1. Students will have to be coaxed to state their goals positively and are likely to argue that they can't say they "will" accomplish a particular goal because they are not sure that they can.

Tell them that, despite their reservations, it is essential that they use the words, "I will..." since the wording will affect their belief in their ability to meet the goal. Be insistent on this, even to the point of saying they will not get credit for the assignment unless they follow your directions.

2. At first some students will have difficulty translating a general goal to one that is specific and measurable.

Class discussion is very helpful both for learning how to be specific and seeing a variety of possible goals. Have students suggest ways that that various goal could be measured for students who are having difficulty. This might also be done in cooperative learning teams.

3. Estimating completion dates troubles many students.

Tell them just to estimate a reasonable time that it should take to accomplish their goal and to be honest with themselves about when they plan to actually begin working on it.

Since estimating the completion of big goals involves completion of steps or sub goals, have students list the steps and the length of time they estimate is needed for each. This list will be used later to make a Gantt chart.

Have students hold off on beginning to work on the goal for a week to give you time to teach scheduling and reward techniques.

4. After listing the many steps required to reach a goal, some students may decide it is too much bother.

It is helpful at this point to have them write the benefits they expect to derive from completing their goal. These usually involve feelings about themselves. Be sure students are still enthusiastic about their goal. If they can't regain their original enthusiasm, have them start over with a new goal.

5. If the goal involves various steps, creating a Gantt chart is helpful and fun for students whether they use project software or fill in a chart by hand. I have found that some students have trouble with the concept of putting time units across the top, so be sure to walk around and check each student's column headings.

You may want to check your software to see if you have any project management programs since they probably can be used to make Gantt charts. The examples of Gantt charts I have found on the Internet are not clearly marked, so you may want to show students a simpler one done by hand or with software that makes grids such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel or ClarisWorks. Better yet, if you could use a project management software since it is likely to be a strong motivator.

Once students have learned to write specific goals and to schedule sub goals on a Gantt chart, they should be ready for next week's lesson on self-motivation and maintaining momentum.

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