Goal Setting Activities for High School

1 What are Goal Setting Activities?

Effective goal setting is an important life skill. Even without formal education about goal setting, high school students have likely set personal goals in the past. They aspire to graduate high school, get their driver’s license, get a job, get a car, get a date, and accomplish a variety of other tasks. Use this vision to engage high school students in activities that will expand their vision and help them work toward meaningful goals. These activities can be measurable or intangible and can span across time, like from middle school through high school and to college. Many smart goals could include things that help students reach certain achievements for graduation. These activities can be introduced to students during back to school, first day activities or end of the year planning. These fun activities should be a fun way to introduce students to a goal-setting process for their grade level and school activities, and they can lead to realistic goals and self-reflection. These activities can also gear students towards specific goals or successful goals during their time in school.

Activities could be brainstormed or made into a list form, printable template or a worksheet for students to complete over time or through their school year, and these activities can be used as a vision board for students to reach attainable goals using growth mindsets. Bulletin boards, PowerPoint presentations, rubrics and handouts can also be used for these goal setting activities. These goals can be long-term goals, short-term goals or new goals, like New Year’s resolutions, to complete over time. By introducing smart goal setting to middle school students and high school students, they will be able to continue setting attainable goals into their college and adult lives by using critical thinking and decision-making skills.

2 What are High School Goal Setting Activities?

3 Semester Activity

Goal setting can make an excellent semester project. Start the term by having each student identify two or three short-term personal goals that he hopes to accomplish within the duration of the term. Goals could include getting a job, passing all his classes, reading the dictionary, or raising a certain amount of money for a school or extracurricular activity. Students should not select goals that they are unlikely to obtain, such as walking on the moon, earning a million dollars or buying a house.

Have each student define her goals on separate pieces of paper. They should outline the steps required to achieve each of their goals, consider potential problems and solutions in obtaining their goal, and set a deadline.

Throughout the term, check on students' progress. At the end of the term, have each student give a thorough report of her status. Students should have accomplished at least one of their chosen goals or at least given the goal a serious effort. Have students analyze their efforts for areas of success and areas that need improvement.

4 Today, Tomorrow, Next Week

For very short-term goal planning, have students decide on a goal and describe the steps they will take today, tomorrow and next week to achieve it within two weeks. For example, a student who wants to get a job could decide to fill out two dozen applications today, make ten follow-up calls tomorrow and physically visit each location next week to speak with the hiring manager.

5 Game Development

Have each student turn his goal setting into a board game. To do this, each student will need to define the goal, or objective, of the game. Encourage her to design a creative board game centered on this theme. During the creation of this project, students will have to define the rules, outline the strategy, and identify potential pitfalls, hazards and challenges.

At the end of this project, have students share their games with others and designate a goal game day where students can try other students' games.

6 Create Your Own Assignment

Give goal setting entirely new meaning by allowing students to create the lesson plan. This activity is much more complicated than it sounds, because it requires students to communicate, think creatively, work as a team, trust each other, manage their time and set goals as a group.

Divide students into groups of five. Each group must choose their own activity, one that they believe they can do better than any other group. Groups earn points if they are actually better at their activity than any other group and if they can copy another group’s activity when each group presents.

7 Computer Gaming

Reach high school students by connecting on their level. While real-world goal setting may seem elusive, many students enjoy computer gaming. With parental and administrative consent, encourage students to participate in a certain online game or website to achieve a certain status.

Many popular online games, including Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft game, offer free trials for short periods. Students can establish a trial account and set a goal to reach level 25 or have a certain amount of currency on hand by the end of the week. Since World of Warcraft is a multiplayer online role-playing game, students can work together or alone to achieve their goals.

Nicole Thelin has more than a decade of professional writing experience. She has contributed to newspapers such as the "Daily Herald" of Provo, Utah, and now writes for several online publications. Thelin is pursuing a bachelor's degree in education from Western Governors University.