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We’re halfway through January, which is about the time most people start giving up on their New Year’s Resolutions (if you got past the 12th, you’re doing better than most!). Keeping up motivation can be tough, especially when it’s cold and grey outside. That’s where the theory of goal-setting comes into play and can help you stay on track.

Whether you’re thinking about your own development or looking for ways to motivate a young person, keeping the key ideas behind goal-setting in your mind can make achieving them more likely. Here are the principles to use to set yourself or your coachee up for success.

1. Clarity

Clear goals are much more motivating than vague ones. The SMART model (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) is a great way to check whether your goal is clear.

2. Challenge

Your goal should be a significant achievement, but not so hard as to be demoralising. It should be something you’ll be proud of, and something you can realistically do with effort and hard work.

3. Commitment

Taking a sense of ownership can help with commitment levels, so it’s important to involve young people in choosing their goals rather than asking them to go along with something else. Similarly, if it’s something you want to achieve, make sure you’re doing it for reasons you care about.

4. Feedback

Regular feedback helps you to stay on track and keep motivated. If you’re working with a young person on their goals, your coaching sessions are the perfect place to create space for this. If it’s a personal goal, you might want to let someone else in on it and ask them to help with giving feedback, or you could set aside some time every week to self-reflect and assess.

5. Task complexity

Some goals will be simple, and some will be complex involving several elements and steps. If yours is the latter, remember this famous quote: “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” Breaking it down into smaller goals and tackling each one at a time can stop your overall goal from becoming overwhelming, or seeming so far off that your interest drops away.


Goal-setting is a great practice to use at work, in your personal life and with young people. It’s a helpful way to get focused and track your progress – something that can all too easily be forgotten in the ebb and flow of life.

Let us know about your goal-setting experiences and tell us what you’re aiming for on Twitter @FoyerFederation


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