by Dr. Marnie Ward, 4-H agent Citrus County
Are you a good record keeper? Can you find the receipt for the DVD player you bought last month? Do you have a vision for what you want to achieve today, tomorrow, in 15 years? These are challenging questions for anyone, but not overwhelming. 4-H youth development programs teach the strategies and tactics for young people to realize these life skills such as the importance of setting goals.
By setting goals individuals charter their steps towards positive outcomes. The first step is to write those goals down and apply the SMART test.
Is the goal Specific? Measurable? Achievable? Relevant? Timely?
Specific goals describe what you want to do, achieve, or accomplish. They should include details like who, what, when, where and why.
Measurable goals include achievement metrics, e.g. the number of pounds my steer will gain in 1 month or the hours I will volunteer at a community service project.
Achievable goals are realistic goals. Setting the bar to high, e.g. “ My goal is to clean-up all the roads in Citrus County” is a recipe for disappointment. Instead, “My goal is to put together a team of to remove 100 lbs. of trash from Dr. Dumas Highway” is an achievable and specific goal.
Relevant goals reinforce the mission of 4-H to build competence, confidence, caring, connection, and character in young people through positive youth development programs.
Timely goals have specific time frames. Goals should include a time period, i.e., “at the 2020 County Fair”, “before the next event”, or “after attending the Beef Educational Meeting”
Goal setting is motivating and keeps the focus on your endpoint, not on the distractions.
4-H members often have multiple short-term goals; e.g. select a pig for the fair, run for office in my 4-H club, talk to a community group, teach my steer to walk when halter-led, etc. and these are important milestones as they work towards long-term goals like; winning Grand Champion Swine at the Fair or being elected as a 4-H State Officer.
4-H encourages young people to set goals and work towards them; however, not reaching a goal does not mean failure. Instead, it’s an opportunity to take what you’ve learned, “mix it up” and try again. Thomas Edison, industrial entrepreneur, and inventor of the telegraph, light bulb, phonograph, and electric power distribution systems was noted for this quote related to not meeting his goals, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
For more on Goal Setting click here.