Set Goals to Make the Best Better

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January is the time of year for resolutions and an appropriate opportunity for personal goal setting. For clarification, a resolution can be defined as a decision to make a permanent life change. This is different from a goal, which has a clear achievement or desired result and a measurable outcome. Well-written goals help point us in the direction of our destination, fuel our ambition, allow us to hold ourselves accountable, and help us get the most out of the upcoming year. Goals should contain the following parts; what you are doing, how you will do it when you are going to do it, and how you know it is done. 4-H curriculum teaches our members about S.M.A.R.T. goals. Each one should be Specific, meaning the objective is clearly defined or outlined. Your goal should be Measurable and large enough to be noticeable. Your S.M.A.R.T. goal should also be Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound with a due date. Maybe you are like my father who recently told me his 2020 goal was to lose ten pounds. This is Specific (ten pounds in one year) and he will be able to Measure progress with his scale. This is Achievable and Realistic, considering it is reasonable for someone of his body type to lose ten pounds in one year. This is also Time-bound, giving himself one year to meet the goal. Last year my father set a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

This month you should hold a brainstorming session with yourself. A good brainstorming session will give you new inspiration necessary to aim for things you never thought possible. What are you going to do? Create a plan for your life in all areas like hobbies, career, family, social, or school. What does the result look like when you have met a goal? Is there anything you would like to learn more about or learn to do better? Remember any previous goals that are still in process. Back to my father’s 2020 goal of losing ten pounds. Now that it is 2021 he tells me he has thirteen pounds to go!

If you want to get the most out of 2021, how will you do it? The act of setting goals naturally requires you to identify your needs, resources, and skills. What is your timetable? You will determine attainable/achievable short-term goals and deadlines that will get you to your main objective, your long-term focus. A final completion date that will hold you accountable is important as are numerous short-term completion dates or milestones to keep you striving towards the ideal. Exercising an intentional goal setting session is often the best way to succeed. I would suggest my father set several smaller S.M.A.R.T. goals this year during his goal-setting session to better attain the loss of thirteen pounds. For example, setting regular days for exercise and weighing himself on regular intervals throughout the year.

Goal setting is relevant to both youth and adults and it is one of the many life skills a young person can develop or acquire while participating in 4-H. When 4-H youth pay specific attention to where they want to be and what they want to accomplish they are able to easily work on ambitious goals, keeping motivation and momentum throughout the process. Lee County 4-Hers are encouraged each January to write down their yearly goals. Each month they will be invited to evaluate their progress and reassess their goals. By December, they will have a record of their 2021 accomplishments. 4-H encourages youth to “make the best better.” Goal setting is an excellent way to do this. If you want to join us in this goal-setting process check out our achievement program for tools that might help at Lee County Achievement Award Program.

Pam is the 4-H Program Assistant for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center. 4-H is a positive youth development program offering programs that suit a variety of backgrounds, interests, budgets, and schedules. From in-school to after-school, clubs to camps, 4-H’s programs are available in Lee County and we welcome children who want to have fun, learn, and grow. In North Carolina, 4-H is brought to you by the N.C. Cooperative Extension. N.C. Cooperative Extension’s experts and educators share university knowledge, information, and tools you can use every day to improve your life.