Wednesday, August 27, 2014

College Student Goal Setting 2014

Most of us think of goal setting as something we pretend to do right after gorging ourselves  over the holidays. I have long preferred to set goals 3-4 times a year. I can envision myself actually accomplishing a goal if it is a 3-5 month goal rather than a 12 month goal. I am not against a goal that is a year long. So, it has become my custom to set goals in September, January, and May. Roughly I am doing 4 months, 4 months and 5 months. This time frame has worked for me. I can think of many times throughout my life where I was able to set goals and achieve them. I believe that setting a short time frame with a beginning and an end is very important. I often counsel college age students during the school year over the phone and then in the office during breaks and summer vacationBefore you begin to question what is wrong with these students, I will tell you up front nothing. After you read below about specific goal setting, I think you will see how most typical individuals could use a coach along the way. I believe that preventative counseling is extremely helpful. I encourage students and parents to not wait until the student is in a ditch because then emergency help is needed. Goal setting can be boiled down to five areas for all of us. 

     Mental This area includes study times, days, grades, study groups versus quiet spaces, a reward system daily or weekly, internships, organization, calendars, and relationships with professors.

    Physically This one is most easily neglected by the average college student. This area would include, sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Think about how difficult it is to eat a nutritious meal when have an established routine at home and now every routine and pattern including living space is in upheaval. 

    Emotional This area includes anxieties, depression, joy, sadness, hopes, dreams, and expectations. Remember that most college students are under the age of 25 years old. This means that the frontal lobe of their brain is not fully developed. This is one of the four major lobes of the brain. The main function of this part of the brain is to recognize the future consequences of our current actions. For a moment, if you dare, think about how the decisions of your life currently are effected by decisions made between the ages of 18-25 years old. I know I have both positive and negative. I can think of many that I thankfully don't have consequences from today, but easily could have. Helping these fragile brains by guiding them through the ups and downs of various emotions can help them to choose the best for themselves.

    Social This area includes balancing school requirements with social activities. If this pendulum swings too in either direction it can threaten a healthy balanced experience for the student. The college student must begin to realize that they are now an adult. They are responsible for the decisions that they make. They must begin to visualize what their personal boundaries, reputation, internal beliefs will be as they make day to day decisions. 

   Spiritual This area includes spiritual beliefs from the student that they want to continue to grow while away at college. The student takes the foundation they have been given in their home and starts to forge a path as an adult. 

Goal setting is not for college students only. Before my children could write their own goals, I would begin to talk to them at the beginning of the school year and in January. We sit down together and brainstorm about school, friends and sports. I encourage those of you with children that are still in the home to begin this lifelong pattern of goal setting now. In my home, we are mid-way through the first week of school. I hope to sit down before next Monday to evaluate the first week and to see what they want to do. I as well am going to use the above 5 areas to goal set. Remember that you cannot do it all in a 4 month period. The goals are to be realistic, measurable and hopefully fun. 

This may be new to your college student. That is okay. Life is full of new things. 




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