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How to Set Realistic Goals for the New Year

 

The beginning of a New Year is an opportune time for setting a goal and looking forward to the wonderful feeling of achieving it.

As an Advance LA Life Skills Coach, I teach my clients the important skill of goal setting. I explain that goal setting means choosing something that you want to accomplish and then taking the steps to make it happen. A phrase to keep in mind is, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”  I explain that a coach can offer support to help a client achieve their goal but, ultimately, it’s the person who is in charge of achieving his or her goal.

 

Fun Facts:

  • 90% of successful people set goals.
  • By setting goals, a person chooses where they will go in life.
  • By setting a goal, a person can achieve more, improve performance, increase self-esteem, and increase self-confidence.
  • By setting a goal, a person can feel less stress, concentrate better and feel happier!

 

A good strategy for setting goals is to use the “S.M.A.R.T.” strategy. This means you make your goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific:  Define what is important to you: what do you want to accomplish? Decide exactly what you want your goal to be. For example, instead of “get better grades” the goal should be stated as, “I will earn a B or better in my math class.”  Instead of “make more friends” the goal should be stated as “I will take a risk and join a school club or attend a club l.a. event this month.”

Measurable: Include precise amounts or dates so you know when you have met your goal. For example, “I will complete my math homework every day” or “I will invite a classmate to get coffee after class once a month.”

Attainable: Give your goal some real thought. Is it YOUR goal or really your parents? Is it actually possible or too far out of reach? For example, “I will go for a brisk walk four times a week” may be more attainable than  “I will run a 5K race.”

Relevant: Your goal must further you in the direction you want to go in. Review your goal once a month and determine if it is still important to you. Talk about your goal with a parent, coach, or teacher. If the goal is no longer of interest, feel free to change it!

Timely: A deadline is essential so you know when to celebrate your success. It feels great to achieve a goal so choose an end time that is realistic. For example, “I will make my bed in the morning every day for four weeks.”

And of course the best part of goal setting: choosing a reward for when the goal is met. Enjoy the feeling of satisfaction of a job well done! If you did not achieve the goal, take the time to reflect on what happened. Was the goal unrealistic? Did you try your best? And remember, a goal can always be adjusted and a person can always try again!

Goal setting is empowering because it provides a focus and a true sense of accomplishment when the goal is met. Setting a realistic goal is a skill of knowing how to make your dreams a reality.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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Returning To College With A New Outlook

Parents of college freshmen look forward to their child coming home for the Winter break. But parental excitement can turn to worry when their child announces that they do not want to return to college after the holiday. This is not an unusual situation as thirty percent of college freshman will not return for their sophomore year with a large percentage not returning after the Thanksgiving or holiday break.

In a recent New York Times article, “When a College Student Comes Home To Stay,” authors William Stixrud and Ned Johnson discussed this trend. The authors noted that college freshmen are often devastated about not feeling emotionally able to return to school. In addition, they experience intense worry that they have disappointed their parents.

It is easy to understand how freshman year can be overwhelming as college life is a highly dysregulated environment. There is little structure, inconsistent sleep and eating patterns, and often a great deal of alcohol and drug usage. To add to this mix, students often feel intense pressure to succeed socially as well as get good grades. According to the American College Health Association, 62 percent of undergrads reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety.”

If your child says that he does not want to return to college after the Thanksgiving break or after winter break, there are steps a parent can take to offer support and guidance.

The following are suggestions for parents to assist their child with a plan for returning to college:

1.) Encourage your child to find a job: Working helps young adults learn to manage their time and budget their finances. Discuss with your child that a first job may not be the beginning of their career but it can be a wonderful opportunity to gain job skills. Grocery store jobs or retail jobs teach young adults responsibility, the importance of punctuality, and how to get along with co-workers and supervisors.

2.) Encourage your child to take a class at your local community college: Discuss with your child that he or she can take a class for the sole purpose of exploring a interesting subject without the pressure of needing to get a good grade. Often times college freshman become overwhelmed, and discouraged, by required courses that are of little interest. Discovering a true passion may motivate a young adult to return to college more focused and invigorated.

3.) Address any mental health issues: Parents often want to believe that enrolling in college will eliminate any mental health issues that were present in high school. However, college life tends to exacerbate issues due to the lack of support from family and close friends. Taking time off from college may allow a young person to gain a better understanding of their strengths and challenges. When returning to college,  parents can require that their child be able to demonstrate knowledge about campus support services in case the need arises.

4.) Life Skills Coaching: A life skills coach can provide the support a returning college freshman needs to regain their confidence. Learning time management and executive functioning skills can help a young adult learn to budget their time and stay on top of their school work. Coaches can assist young adults with how to get involved in campus activities. Further, a coach can help a young adult increase their self-reliance and independence allowing for a successful re-entry to college.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.