By Beverly K. Bachel, author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go for It! A Guide for Teens
Summer is a great time to turn your get-to-it-later kids into real goal-getters with the help of tiny habits.
According to BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, tiny habits are small, positive actions that can be completed in as little as 30 seconds a day.
While such actions may seem inconsequential, when repeated consistently, they become habits. And habits, even when tiny, can launch kids on the path to success when it comes to achieving much bigger goals.
Adding Tiny Habits to Kids’ Goal-Setting Toolbox
Why are tiny habits so powerful? One reason is because completing them doesn’t rely on motivation or willpower. According to Fogg, tiny habits depend on three simple ingredients:
- An anchor moment that reminds us to do a tiny behavior.
- A tiny behavior that we complete immediately after the anchor moment occurs.
- An instant celebration that we perform as soon as we complete the tiny behavior.
Teens I work with find these “ingredients” a helpful addition to the tried-and-true goal-setting strategies they already employ.
Tiny habits pack a big punch
Here’s how three tiny habits might play out for a teen who wants to make the most of each day and build better relationships with family and friends:
|Anchor moment||Tiny behavior||Instant celebration|
|When my alarm goes off . . .||I will immediately get out of bed and stretch.
|Then I will say, “It’s going to be a great day.”
|When I walk into the kitchen and see my family . . .
|I will smile and say good morning.||Then I will give them a high-five.
|When I am with my friends . . .
|I will ask them how they’re doing and truly listen to what they say.
|Then I will tell them something I like about them.
Tiny habits such as these build on SMART goals which are goals that are:
- Specific: A goal should make clear what kids intend to accomplish. For instance, “I want to record some music” is a bit fuzzy. “I want to record a demo by the end of summer” is much clearer.
- Measurable: A goal should enable kids to measure progress—and quantify success. So “earning some money” isn’t all that SMART, but “earning at least $25 a week” is.
- Active: Does the goal paint a picture of what kids should be doing? “Having more friends” doesn’t, but “saying hi to three new people every day” does.
- Reachable: A goal should s-t-r-e-t-c-h but not break a kid. Keep in mind that what that means is different for each person.
- Timed: Does the goal have a clear end date or time? If not, help kids get SMART by assisting them in setting a realistic deadline.
With good tiny habits such as these, kids feel better about themselves. And the better they feel, the more likely they are to both set and achieve goals.
BONUS! Download a “Setting SMART Goals” worksheet.
Beverly Bachel is a freelance writer and the author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go for It! A Guide for Teens. One of the current goals she’s set with her family is to text each other more often.
Beverly is the author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go for It! A Guide for Teens.
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