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21 Best Short Term Goals for High School Students

Setting the best short term goals for high school students starts is easy with the SMART goal framework.

Learning to set goals as a young adult can be an effective way to help get organized, become focused, and stay motivated.

The teen years are also a time to explore interests, step out of your comfort zone and discover what you can achieve. But it can be difficult to know where to start. Add in the everyday social and academic pressures of being a teen and the mere thought of achieving goals may feel impossible.

Suddenly, goals begin to feel more like dreams and less like reality.

That’s where short term goals come into play!

Short-term goals are a good way for high school students, as well as middle school students, to begin learning the type of organization and focus that is needed to be successful.

What is a short term goal?

A short term goal is something that you want to accomplish soon or in the near future, typically in less than a year. These smaller goals detail specific actions to take that support your broader vision for your school, work, and personal life.

Short term goals act as building blocks towards achieving larger goals, or long-term goals.

The benefits of setting short-term goals

Short term goals are more than just quick wins. These bite sized objectives serve as great motivators, confidence builders, and are packed with valuable learnings as you step towards achievement.

Routinely setting short-term goals at a young age:

  1. Encourages personal development and self-improvement. Working towards a smaller goal is a great way for young people to discover their abilities and recognize their potential.
  2. Teaches young adults how to form an action plan. The only way to get the results you want is to act. Setting short-term goals is a great way to take responsibility and own your own decisions at a young age.
  3. Helps to make a process feel more manageable. Clear and short milestones can help to reduce that overwhelming feeling and overcome procrastination.
  4. Promotes learning and instills the power of adjusting. Things don’t always go as planned or how you want. Short-term goals can help you gain a better understanding of how you work best and allow for creativity and adjustments.

SMART framework for goals

Setting goals can feel overwhelming, especially for first timers, but using the SMART goal framework is the best way to keep things simple and focused. The SMART goal framework is used throughout some of the most successful organizations across the globe and is considered a gold standard among leadership tools. In addition to mapping out short-term goals, the SMART goal tool can be used for planning out a long term goal as well.

The SMART goal acronym stands for:

  • Specific – what specific goal do you want to accomplish?
  • Measurable – how will you define or measure your success?
  • Attainable – how will you accomplish the goal? What resources will you need? How will you leverage your strengths to help you achieve the goal?
  • Relevant – why is this goal important to you and how does it align with your values?
  • Timely (Time-bound) – what is your timeline for achieving this goal?

Practicing goal setting using the SMART goal framework as a young adult will set you up for success as you move on to larger or more long-term goals throughout life.

Download a FREE SMART goals template here.

Setting personal goals

Now that you have your SMART goal template, the first thing to do is think about an area of your life that you would like to improve.

A good goal is one that feels meaningful. Whether you have academic goals, financial goals, or health related goals in mind, understanding why a certain goal is important to you will help you stay connected and motivated.

21 Examples of Short-Term Goals for Students

Use the list of examples below to help brainstorm a short-term goal that resonates with you. Once you pick a meaningful goal, fill out your SMART goal template to draw up your action steps.

1. Achieve good grades

A higher grade point average weighs heavily on the mind of many high school students. Your plan to achieve a goal of better grades can include small steps that make a big difference. Seek out extra help in the form of weekly check-ins with teachers, after school help, or joining a study group.

2. Prioritize your health

Paying attention to your mental, emotional, and physical health as a teenager is vitally important. Pick one good habit that you would like to develop further, such as water intake, daily movement, or better sleep, and set a timeline to achieve improvements. Use a habit tracker to make it easy to track your progress!

3. Learn a new hobby

Learning new things helps build your confidence as a teenager and can promote a growth mindset!

4. Get involved with extracurricular activities

Check out the list of student organizations offered at your school and try something new. It’s never too late to get involved and extracurricular activities are a great way to explore your interests.

5. Take on a leadership role

If the idea of a student government position feels too overwhelming to start, consider taking smaller steps towards exploring leadership roles. Volunteer to run a committee or lead a club, or offer to take the lead on structuring a group project at school.

6. Establish a self care routine

Self-care comes in many forms and doesn’t have to take a long time to be effective. Check out this list of 50 healthy self care ideas and activities for teens to brainstorm creative ways to establish a self-care routine that rocks!

7. Grow your savings account

A great place to start is to decide how much money you would like to save. Even if your financial goals are a bit longer term, such as creating an emergency fund or saving for student loans, setting short term goals now will help build on those long-term goals for later. From there, brainstorm actionable ways to make money that best fit your schedule.

Part-time jobs can be a great way to help achieve money goals but it’s important to know if you have enough time to meet your employer’s expectations. If not, there are tons of other ways to make money on your own including offering services such as yard work and babysitting.

8. Develop a study plan

Whether your action steps include joining a study group or refining your own individual study habits, developing a solid study plan in high school will lay an important foundation for your future college career.

9. Submit assignments and homework on time

Meeting deadlines is a key factor in achieving academic success. Organizing your classroom priorities around a specific time frame is a great way to improve your time management skills.

10. Exercise

Get specific with what type of exercise or how much physical activity you want to accomplish. Include specific ways in your action plan to help keep you on track.

11. Create a post high school plan or plan for college

Whether your future includes embarking on a college experience or jumping right into a career path, focusing on a few short term goals early in your high school career will help you feel more prepared when it comes time to make decisions. If this seems like an overwhelming task, consider using some journal prompts to help you create a vision for your future and frame your goals.

12. Participate in class

Increasing your class participation is a great way to work towards a longer term or end goal of improving your communication skills.

13. Create a healthy bedtime routine

Evaluate your current nighttime routine and decide how and where you want to make improvements.

14. Improve public speaking skills

If you have an end goal to gain more confidence or improve communication skills, it is a good idea to practice public speaking skills. Public speaking comes in many forms and does not always involve standing up in front of a crowd to give a speech. Participating in classroom discussions can be a great action step towards improving your public speaking skills. Consider joining the debate team at school for a greater challenge!

15. Research scholarship opportunities

Depending on your post high school plan, becoming aware of what scholarship opportunities exist and the process of applying for them can help provide greater financial security and support. Action steps such as meeting with your high school guidance counselor to help identify existing scholarship opportunities or researching available scholarships within local organizations can be a great way to start the process.

16. Build relationships with teachers

Positive relationships with your teachers help to encourage and motivate your learning. Showing interest in the subject material, arriving at class on time, participating in class discussions, and submitting your assignments timely are just a few action steps towards building a great relationship with your teacher.

17. Become organized

High school students have a lot on their plate! Balancing family, academics, extracurricular activities, friends, and more requires being organized and knowing how to prioritize. Pick an area of your life that you want to create more structure around and brainstorm some relevant action steps.

18. Socialize

Social activities do not require having a large group of friends. Socialization can occur through volunteering, participating in school activities, clubs, or church organizations.

19. Keep your room clean

Doing a better job of keeping your space neat as a young adult is important for developing good organizational skills. Pick a few action items that will help you establish a routine to keep your room free of clutter.

20. Find a mentor

The benefits of being mentored as a young adult are endless. Finding someone who can act as your trusted guide and role model will help keep you on the right path.

21. Volunteer

Research local organizations to find your best fit or organize your own way, such as a food drive or community clean up day, to help a great cause. Check out 51 great volunteer opportunities for teens and learn all the amazing ways you can make a difference!

Staying motivated and focused

Achieving goals requires effort, but the important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy the process of working towards the finish line! Celebrating mini milestones and small accomplishments is one of the best ways to stay motivated, build self-efficacy and grow your confidence.

Larger goals and visions start with taking small steps and setting short term, achievable goals!