Recently, while I was cruising through Teen Ink, I ran across a frustration post. The writer was fed up with adults talking about how amassing riches is the only goal to have. Terrong's post didn't indicate that they have any plans of their own but it made very clear that they were rejecting their family's goals.

This poster's passion gave me pause. I remember feeling like that when I was in my mid-late teens.

Terron's post made me wonder why parents feel they have to plan their children's life courses. Or, if they don't take their kids' lives over, they at least nudge it (sometimes shove it) into the direction they think their kids should go. Don't our parents remember how that felt when they suffered through it?

Maybe our parents welcomed that influence when they were young, and maybe that was just the way they lived back then.

Today, we're so much more aware that self-development is a personal thing, and that personal satisfaction does not come from doing what others tell you to do.

So how can you break this oft-repeated pattern? By setting personal goals. This would be a plan you would set for yourself, that you would use to improve certain areas in school and personal life and to reach certain objectives. Why is goal-setting so important?

That's what your Superprof talks about today.

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Planning to Take Control of Your Life

It's tough, knowing what to do when you know so little about adulthood. Isn't it a good thing, then, that we have caregivers to look after us?

Adults give us a framework for living: when to eat, go to bed, get to school and learn - both academic subjects and how to function in society. Our teachers and school administrators - our lives' temporary mentors know that their duty extends only so far. They're fine with letting us go when their time with us is done.

Parents and teachers support us while we discover the world
The adults in our lives give us support to discover the world. Photo by David Straight on Unsplash

Our caregivers, parents and other relatives often have a hard time recognising that, there comes a time when we don't need as much guidance. The older we get and the more experience we gain, the better we get at defining who we are and what we want.

Maybe it's a habit. After all, our parents have been in charge of our lives for all of our lives. Their reluctance to let you forge your own path likely comes down to the fear of becoming less relevant. We can't blame them for that. Painful and unsettling as it is for them, it's perfectly normal.

But we can't stifle our personal growth to spare our parents from a natural part of their parenting experience. That's why we need to start taking control of our lives.

In small measures, to be sure. It's not like you should suddenly emancipate yourself from your family and cut off all contact.

Start small, maybe by setting your own back to school goals. For example, you can make a list of objectives to be independent:

  • wake up on time every school day without mum or dad being your secondary alarm
  • prepare your own breakfast
  • get to school on time
  • do your homework without being told
    • do your chores without being told, too
  • set yourself a time limit for using your electronic devices, including your gaming console
  • make sure your clothes are laid out and your bookbag is packed before going to sleep
  • set your own bedtime

As the adults in your life see that you're taking control of things, they might feel a bit nostalgic for the days when you relied on them for everything. But then, they might be relieved that you're taking control of your life.

Taking control of your life means making more decisions on your own.
You can take control of your life, not just your game controller. Photo by Florian Gagnepain on Unsplash

Training to Find a Sense of Purpose

A recent report revealed that a shocking number of graduating students in the UK have no idea what to do with their lives.

Some of that must surely be because of the ongoing pandemic. Right now, life as we knew it is changing dramatically; who knows what opportunities there will be left once COVID quits its decimation?

We can't blame everything on the coronavirus, though. Graduate aimlessness is not new, nor is it unique to the UK. Around the world, a fair proportion of graduating students have no direction in life. Imagine if they were all imbued with a sense of purpose...

A sense of purpose gives you the certainty that you are here for a reason and that there are vital things that you must do. Having a sense of purpose boosts your self-confidence and helps you keep a positive attitude, even in challenging times.

We have to make a distinction between setting objectives and having a purpose.

Goals are something you want to accomplish for a specific desired outcome. You might set a long-term goal to live abroad after you graduate, for instance, or a long term goal of embracing a healthy way of living.

Writing objectives or areas to improve, would give you something to work towards. Having something to work towards gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of purpose... well, it's a reward in itself - quite apart from the rewards you should treat yourself to when you accomplish a goal.

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Goals Ensure Your Personal Development

Until recently, people accepted their personal development as a matter of course; nobody ever gave much thought to the concept. That all changed about 30 years ago when sociologists and psychologists noticed that those who actively cultivated their personal development were generally more self-assured, happier and successful.

That's pretty much when the self-help industry took off.

You don't necessarily need a life coach or therapist to guide your personal development; you only need to be self-aware and know how you want to live. We're not talking about choosing a career; personal development is building the skills to enhance your personal qualities - of which employability is only a part.

Our dreams, beliefs, hopes, wishes and aspirations, along with our skills, abilities and sense of decency, morality and charity... are the things that make us who we are. They are the qualities that, as you develop them, will come to define you.

Planning personal goals and attaining them inevitably leads to self-discovery and, ultimately, personal growth. And there's no greater adventure you could embark on than discovering yourself and reaching your full potential.

Some people believe they have nothing left to learn
Isn't it astounding that so many people believe they don't need to learn anything else? Photo by Tom Morel on Unsplash

Goals Foster Personal Growth

I am perpetually astounded by people who believe they have nothing more to learn in life, and that they have no more room to progress. You too? They are perfectly content to accept the conditions and circumstances they live in, without an ounce of curiosity about how things could be different or even better - anywhere else in the world.

Learning is the only path to personal growth. Not just academic learning - although that's a part of it, but also learning about yourself, the world, our collective history and possibilities for the future. And the best part is, this learning happens naturally; it's nothing you have to buy textbooks or study for.

Here's how setting goals play into all that.

Your goal is to tour Europe after graduation. Even though you intend only to have fun, you'll learn things along the way; maybe a few words in another language, certainly some customs and traditions and most likely about some of the people.

Each nugget of information will alter your perception of the world in some small way, unobtrusively weaving a new pattern of thoughts and ideas that will stay with you long after you return home.

What you experience along the way to realising your goals leads to personal growth. There's just one catch: you have to acknowledge it and put it into perspective. Let that new knowledge become a part of you. That, in turn, will help you shape future goals.

A good way to acknowledge your growth is to track your goals in a journal. That way, you can keep pace with your personal evolution in real-time.

Goals Are the Foundation for Success

Serendipity is a beautiful word; too bad it has such a counterproductive meaning.

Admittedly, some people are lucky. They find the right job, meet the right person or encounter an advantageous situation through a happy accident - serendipity. The rest of us un-serendipitous folk have to work hard for our successes. Fortunately, we don't have to punch blindly; we can set plans to guide us.

The great thing about a personal development plan is that we get to determine it, based on what we want. A person with a goal is not someone buffeted by winds of change or currents of distress; their focus is on what they want to achieve.

Goals don't always translate into the commonly accepted interpretation of success - fame, riches and power. And who said that had to be that concept's standard definition, anyway?

Instead, let's accept success as a sense of accomplishment, fulfilment and being at peace. If at the end of the day, you know you've done your best at everything you set out to do and you're at peace with yourself, you've found success that day.

Terrong's post on Teen Ink indicates they have a clear idea of what success means to them. It's possible that they already have goals formulated to ensure their personal success. Have you formulated your objectives, yet?

Now, discover how to set your goals for the new school year...

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Sophia

A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.