• Dr. V.S. Gayathri

The Importance of Goal Setting for Students

"If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else." –Lawrence J. Peter


We all have certain goals in life and we ought to follow a roadmap to reach them. A Harvard Business indicates at a direct correlation between goal setting and success. It was found that 14% of the people who have goals are 10 times more successful than those who do not have goals.


Often we misinterpret that goals and goal setting is for grown-ups and what children have is just a mere wish. However, this is not the case.


Difference Between a Wish and a Goal


Most of us have thoughts regarding what we want to achieve or do in the future. However, these thoughts without a plan of action are merely wishes, dreams and desires. To turn a wish into a Goal, a very specific plan of action is needed.

So, we think that kids are too young to have that plan of action. However, there have been many studies which indicate the importance of goal setting from an early age for students.


“A study was conducted and by using a hierarchical linear model, researchers were able to analyze the relationship between goal setting and student achievement across time at both the individual student and teacher levels. A correlational analysis of the goal-setting process and language proficiency scores reveals a statistically significant relationship between the goal-setting process and language achievement.”


Let us understand why goal setting is so important for students.


In 1979, Harvard MBA conducted a fascinating study on the effects of goal setting, in which they surveyed the habits of goal setting in the about-to-graduate students. About 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all, whereas 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans. Only 3% of the class had set written goals and concrete plans


10 years later, the result spoken for themselves: the 13% were making twice as much money than the 84% on average. While the 3% managed 10 times the income compared to the rest of the 97% of the class, on an average.


Goal Setting helps them to:


  1. Se a clear path to success- When a child sets goals, it gives him or her steps to follow so tasks are completed according to importance. This helps them to spend the right time and energy on steps that are required rather than aimlessly trying many things.

  2. Learn Time Management & Preparedness- It reduces procrastination. Setting effective goals also teaches a child organization, planning, and time management skills that he or she can use in the classroom and at home.

  3. Increase motivation- Short-term goals keeps them motivated and determined to achieve them and go ahead to long-term goals.

  4. Measure progress- Goal setting is also linked to performance assessment and tracking one’s progress in achieving them. Once they start tracking, they will be able to identify their strengths and areas of improvement.

  5. Get focus and purpose- Setting goals determines a clear pathway to success, allowing your child to focus on what needs to get done. This goes a long way to preventing your child from becoming overwhelmed, frustrated, or discouraged.

  6. Boost self-confidence- When a child starts achieving the milestones, he/she has set for themselves, it helps to enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

  7. Provide challenges- If a child seems uninterested in a certain subject or school in general, we can set a small goal to work toward. This will keep him or her engaged in the classroom and encourages the child to think of new areas he or she can continue to improve.

Key features of Goal Setting


  • A goal is an outcome, something that will make a difference as a result of achieving it. It cannot be too ambitious to be out of reach, but also not so simple that it does not challenge.

  • A goal needs to be realistic with a stretch, requiring effort and focus to achieve it.

  • Goals need time frames and measurable action steps along the way so that Students can keep track of progress, and make adjustments as necessary.


Goals with Measurable Objectives


Setting goals without assigning measurable objectives means the lack of an action plan leading to no goals being accomplished.


Creating objectives without a broad goal or target lacks meaning. Goals can seem impossible or overwhelming without breaking them down into measurable tasks with objectives. This skill takes time to develop. And, students need initial hand-holding while they are going through this process.


Hence, it is especially important to have them in place for students at the secondary level. Gradually, they will get accustomed to the process. We will soon cover the various ways in which students set their goals and how you can facilitate them.

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