Why It’s Important to Set Goals with Your Teens

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It’s important to set goals with your teens to help them develop daily habits that will turn dreams to reality. Get FREE printable goal setting worksheets!

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When my two homeschool high school students were given the assignment to write a personal essay in their Essentials in Writing curriculum recently, they both chose (after a little prompting from me) to write about their personal goals.

I had talked to my teens about goal-setting quite a bit…always with the “we really need to do this” urgency. But I hadn’t actually required them to do it. I don’t know about your teens, but mine don’t always take action on things like that just based on a suggestion.

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So, having an assignment that it could be integrated into created the perfect opportunity for them to put some time into thinking about their long-term goals.

My son, who is a senior, chose to write out his 2-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals. He has struggled with deciding what to do after high school, and this process really helped him think through what he wants his life to look like in the coming years.

My daughter, who is a freshman, chose to write out three 5-year goals. When you’re in your mid-teens, even a couple years out from high school seems like an eternity away. Five-year goals gave her the clarity she needed to plan out the next few steps she wants to take.

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Get the FREE Goal-Setting Starter Pack for Teens printable!

So, why is it important to set goals with your teens?

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A Good Life Skill

Setting goals helps people to visualize and verbalize the things they want to achieve. Putting them on paper and implementing a strategy to accomplish them helps you to realize they are attainable.

If you get your kids in the habit of setting goals while they’re in high school, it’s likely that they will continue to use this skill throughout their lives. Whether it’s related to health, education, finances, relationships, careers, or anything else…when you help your teens learn that it’s important to set goals, you are giving them the tools they need to create the life they want to live.

Dreams to Reality

Goal-setting can help your teens to make their dreams a reality by breaking them down into manageable steps.

When my kids are thinking about the big picture of what they want their lives to look like in the future, sometimes they seem to get overwhelmed and doubt whether they can actually make it happen. I think a lot of people experience this.

Much too often, dreams are abandoned because people don’t have a realistic plan in place to reach them. Of course, it’s easy for everyday life to get in the way.

Let’s face it…we’re all busy and just trying to take care of our responsibilities from one day to the next. When you get to be my age, you realize that those days turn into years, and then decades, very quickly!

Teaching our teens to start with long-term goals and then work backward setting shorter-term goals that will help them reach the long-term goals gives them a realistic plan of action. If they start making small steps a part of their daily habits now, all of those little things will mean big things for their future!

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Live Life on Purpose

Remember when we were talking about how easy it is to get so wrapped up in day-to-day living that we don’t have time to work toward our goals? As adults, we know that is a stark reality for many of us. I know I would certainly do things a little differently if I had the opportunity to go back and live the last 20 years over.

I’m not saying that I haven’t reached any of my life goals…I have. But, I do think I could have saved myself some headaches along the way if I had planned things out a little better. Then, there are also those dreams that I let fall by the wayside. You know, those things that you just keep putting off until you have time…

The reality is that you’re never going to have the time unless you make the time (I’m preaching to myself here, too).

That’s why it’s so important to teach our teens to create a goal-setting (and goal-achieving) lifestyle! It’s called intentional living.

When we live every day on purpose, we have more control over what our lives look like, both in the short-term and the long-term. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything is going to work out just the way we want all the time. Life happens, right?

But, if we’re intentional about our choices and our actions, we put ourselves in the driver’s seat to make sure we’re always heading in the direction of our goals and dreams.

Most of us don’t do that naturally. We’re much more likely to just deal with what each day throws at us as it comes. Now, there is something to be said for spontaneity in moderation. But, most of us are not likely to reach any long-term goals if we live our whole life that way.

Teach your teens to live on purpose, and you will be helping them to fulfill their purpose in this world.

How can you help your teens learn to set goals?

Now that we’ve talked about why it’s important to set goals, I’ve got some great goal-setting worksheets that your teens can use to start learning how to set long-term goals and then break them down into shorter-term goals and daily, weekly, or monthly tasks. It even has a really neat vision board to help them get a glimpse of what they want their lives to look like in the future!

It’s called “My Goal Book: A Goal-Setting Starter Pack for Teens”, and you can download it for FREE here!

I’ll write a separate post soon that will walk you through the process of how to help your teens set goals and turn them into a part of their daily lives. In the meantime, I hope the starter pack will get your teens on the right track toward achieving their goals!

What are some other reasons you think it is important to set goals with your teens?

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I love to share my passion for family, faith, learning, and adventure! I am a worship pastor's wife, a homeschool mom, a former public school teacher and counselor, and a Ph.D. in educational psychology. My heart is to encourage and support families who are homeschooling kids with ADHD, homeschooling high school, and raising teenagers. I'm so excited for you to follow along on this joyous journey!


  1. Melissa Jones Reply

    I’ve been setting big and small goals with my kids since they were little! This is so very important!

  2. Marianne Reply

    Great post! I am currently try to teach my 13 year old to set small attainable goals, instead of impossible goals that will result in her becoming frustrated and giving up. You made some great points… will be showing her this article for sure!

  3. Misskorang Reply

    This is awesome! I am going to start making my 9 year of and his younger siblings tell me their weekly goals orally and hold them to it. Hopefully by the time they’re teens it would be very familiar to them when I require we write long term goals in paper, so help me God 😂

  4. Barbara Reply

    Having a goal to work towards helps keep the focus steady even on everything else surrounding the goal too!

  5. Patrice Reply

    I absolutely love these ideas. Jon and I don’t have children yet but this definitely helps us plan in advance! ❤️

  6. Sandi Barrett Reply

    It’s great thing for teens to have goals. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Larissa Li Reply

    What a great article! It’s the work I should expect soon!

    My nine year old is getting there and already knows what he wants but we can add some gloss to that:)

  8. Amy Irvin Reply

    I do well with goals and planning. This will e helpful for myself and for helping my kids once they get older.

  9. Tiffany Reply

    I wish someone made me do this when I started college- didn’t realize I should have incorporated internships and such til I had almost graduated

  10. Sydney Delong-Eat Simply Sweet Reply

    What an awesome resource for helping set goals! Even though I’m not a teen, I’m sure I could set some goals for myself as well!

  11. Suzan Reply

    We often did this, and still do with my 24 year old master student. Happy with the results 🙂

  12. Chelsea Reply

    We’ve been working on setting goals with our younger kids. And as they make baby steps towards reaching them, we celebrate and revisit the goal and discuss how they’re working hard.

  13. Holly B Reply

    Great post! I have always believed that the younger we can teach children about goals helps them to build confidence, even at 5 years old I had my children doing balancing on one foot, jump roping, and coloring in line. So by the time they were teens, it was a habit to goal set!

  14. lisa manderino Reply

    This is so good! We actually set down with our kids and set goals yesterday. We did a spiritual goal, physical goal, intellectual goal, and social goal.

  15. Debbie Reply

    Good idea to have your teens write out their goals. They will use what they learned about goals in the future!

  16. Keirsten Reply

    Some very smart ideas and suggestions. Always important to have goals.

  17. Cynthia Reply

    This is a great article with great tips that really everyone can apply to their lives!

  18. Sabrina DeWalt Reply

    Goal setting is definitely a valuable life skill.

  19. Tricia Snow Reply

    I would try to set goals with my daughter …. When I would follow up I would hear, “Oh are we still doing that?” Lol She was pretty good but it could be a struggle.

    • Melissa F Reply

      Ha, ha! Yep…I’ve heard that a few times, too!

    • Suz | TravelsWithSuz.com Reply

      All very true. I raised 2 daughter, and was a leader for a Girl Scout Troop for a group that went from 1st grade through Seniors in HS … It was tough! But all of those girls are now high-functioning adults now, and we’re all still in touch, so I’d say it was a success!

  20. Laura Schwieter Reply

    I often struggle myself with goal setting. I can work toward them, but have difficulty choosing them. I think it’s a great idea to start working with teens. This ability will help them throughout their lives.

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