Goals: Does Your Student Believe They Can?

Jan 01 2023 0 Comments goal-achieving What Are Your Big Dreams?

Image of Isaiah Montgomery standing next to fireplace

A few weeks ago as Harold, Isaiah, and I sat around the dinner table, we each shared our big goals for 2023. Isaiah’s big goals involved saving a lot of money, improving his GPA, and building his business. He discussed these topics passionately.

When he finished talking, I stared at him, but said nothing. I said nothing because I knew he expected me to give him words of encouragement as I always do.

Finally he said, “Don’t you have anything to say? Do you think I can do it?”

I absolutely believe that Isaiah can achieve each of his goals. I have seen him in action. He has what it takes.

But it’s not enough for me to believe in him.

I responded, “Isaiah, the important question is, ‘do you believe you can?’”

His response was an unconvincing, “yes.” 

For many students, the least difficult part of the goal-achieving process is setting goals. Most students can make a list of things that they want to achieve. With a little help, many elementary age students and older can set goals that would fit the SMART criteria—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Each of Isaiah’s goals is SMART. Still, that’s not enough. It’s not enough for the goal to be objectively attainable. To achieve a goal, the student must take brave action. If Isaiah doesn’t believe that he’s capable of reaching his goals, it’s not likely that he will be motivated to take the steps to reach those goals. Why would he take the time to do something that he thinks is impossible?

During the next part of my conversation with Isaiah I challenged him, reminding him of the importance of what he thinks about himself and his abilities.

  • I know Isaiah is amazing, but I did not tell him that.
  • I know Isaiah has the ability to achieve each of his 2023 big goals, but I did not tell him that.

Isaiah did not need me to say those things to him. He knew my opinion. Isaiah needed to arrive at the conclusion on his own that he is amazing and that he has the ability to achieve each of his goals. Isaiah will grow in confidence because he believes in himself and not because his mom believes him. Yes, the impact of a parent’s support and belief in their child should not be underestimated. However, the impact of a child’s belief in their self is incomparable .

When it comes to achieving goals, one of the most important factors that determines whether or not your student will reach their goal is whether they believe they can. To help Isaiah have a mindset shift, I challenged him with the following three questions:

  1. What was one of the most difficult things that you accomplished in 2022?
  2. How were you able to accomplish that thing?
  3. What qualities do you have that helped you accomplish that thing?

These questions required Isaiah to self-reflect. They required him to think about how he used his abilities and resources to do something that was difficult. In answering these questions he reminded himself that he has what it takes to do hard things.

This is the initial inquiry. There may still be “buts” and “what ifs”. The process of achieving the goal may still feel daunting. Your student made still feel scared. Your student may still be concerned about failing. However, as long as your student believes that they can, and is willing to take brave steps forward, they will be able to start on the journey toward achieving their goals.

What Are Your Big Dreams? is a resource that will help students ages 8-12 achieve their goals. It is a guided journal that includes writing prompts and other activities that help students understand their gifts and that they have what it takes to achieve their goals. It also provides space for students to set goals and develop strategies to reach them.

To help students with their goal achieving journey, a Family Guide is available. The Family Guide for What Are Your Big Dreams?  is divided into 13 units that correspond with the activities in the guided journal. It helps parents, caregivers, and home educators work through What Are You Big Dreams? in a structured manner, highlighting the social emotional learning aspects of the goal-achieving process.





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Stacey Montgomery
Mom, Author, illustrator, and social emotional learning innovator

@2023. Stacey Montgomery. All rights reserved.


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