Your student probably has a lot of big dreams. Maybe they already know what career path they want to focus on, a lifestyle they aspire to or where they want to go to school. You might have big goals in mind for your student as well. Having big goals is great, but attaining them can be more work than either of you expect. Start talking to your student about how exactly they’re going to go about achieving their goals. We’ll help you simplify and conceptualize the process.
When students have a future goal — for example, becoming an engineer at Google — they tend to focus on the end result instead of how they’re going to actually get there. Try asking your student what they would do if, instead, their goal was to paint a huge mural.
They’d likely break the painting up into smaller sections, right? Paint the sky, then the trees and so on. Approaching big goals through small steps helps the end result feel (and become) more achievable.
Then, ask them to apply that logic to their own goals. We recommend using a goal pyramid like the one below to help you both visualize the process.
Have them start with small milestones on the bottom, like researching engineering programs or looking into different engineering fields. The next tier should hold mid-level goals like going on an informational interview with someone in the field.
They can add as many tiers to the pyramid as they need, from researching programs to graduating from college and getting their first job. The more small steps they can accomplish along the way, the more boxes they get to check off, which is scientifically proven to make you feel good.
The goal pyramid works for shorter-term goals too, whether they’re yearly, monthly or even daily. Here’s another example: Let’s say your student isn’t a runner, but they decide to start training for a 5K. Instead of thinking, “I’m going to go run a mile” (which could sound exhausting), they should have small visual goals while they’re out training such as, “I just need to get to that tree.” Then, once they’ve made it to the tree, “I just need to make it to that mailbox.” They should keep pushing to go a little further one step at a time.
In the end, it’s all about getting to their personal finish line. Now, go have some goal setting fun!