If It’s to Be, It’s Up to Me: Setting Extraordinary Goals

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If It’s to Be, It’s Up to Me: Setting Extraordinary Goals

No dream ever comes true, no obstacle is ever overcome, no goal is ever reached without focused action. Yet young people are seldom specifically taught how to set and pursue goals.

They may not have a strong sense of what a goal really is. At SuperCamp, we help them see that a goal is a plan for action. It’s about translating promising ideas into useful, acceptable applications. Or to put it in simpler terms, it’s a plan to use your great idea.

Of course we’re talking about worthwhile and realistic goals here, specifically the ones that will get teens to their stated dreams. We do help teens see that there are practical goals and those that are long shots. We help them learn to follow their dreams while being realistic and having a back-up plan.

At SuperCamp, campers start creating their goals by formulating a specific plan of action. They analyze several possible ways to reach their goal. They consider sources of assistance and resistance. They discover that they’re capable of setting goals in several arenas of their lives: personal, school, career, family, social, and others. They find that it helps to sort their goals into short, medium, and long-term. We ask them to write down the expectations they have for their goals.

We also challenge them to be clear on their purpose for going after this goal. Are you going to ace AP chemistry to get a good grade, or to make it into Stanford’s chemistry program? Getting the A is a happy byproduct of doing great in class, but it’s not the main objective.

Part of the challenge for parents is to find out what teens think of their own potential: “Who am I?” “Where can I see myself going in life?” “What’s the most incredible life I can think of living?” At its heart, goal-setting is about knowing who you are and what you’re about. The only reason for goals to exist is to help us apply ourselves to the world at large. Self-knowledge is at the bottom of it all.

A boy named Johnny, who had a drive for leadership, once came into our program. He wanted to attend SuperCamp because he’d heard it taught leadership skills. Unfortunately, his parents couldn’t manage the cost of tuition. Johnny found a friend who was willing to pay part of the tuition, but if he wanted to go, he’d have to raise the rest himself. Johnny made a commitment; he was going to get himself to camp. He spent the next two weeks calling people and asking them to pledge $10 or $20 toward his program tuition. A lot of people said no – they couldn’t see the benefit in it. But Johnny kept working at it. Just days before the program began, Johnny made the full cost of tuition.

By the time he came into the program, Johnny had already developed a great sense of his own ability to make things happen: “It means a lot that I can influence people and set an example that others can follow.” By the time he reached us, Johnny already knew a lot about doing whatever it took to achieve a goal. He was an inspiration to facilitators and campers alike because he found a way to reach his goal.

The difference between the life that you have and the life that you want is merely a matter of responsible choices.

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