You’re listening to the Parents of Hardworking Teens Podcast, episode 31 - and we can’t start a brand new year without talking about goals, right? Now, in my experience most teenagers just groan at goal-setting. They’ve heard about setting SMART goals a hundred times and they likely do some sort of goal-setting exercise in their pastoral sessions, personal development or when they have speakers. So today, I’ll share with you an alternative, much more practical, tangible, quick and simple way to approach their goals, wants and desires, - and guess what - you can use it too as a parent.
Hey hey VIPs! Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a really fun time, a really relaxing time or whatever you wanted it to be and I hope you’re feeling amazing about 2023!
I am SO excited for all the plans we have for you and your teen this year. I always feel this way at this time each year but each year just gets better than the last, I know that will be the case again this year. And I’m feeling refreshed and energised as I really did get to relax and rejuvenate over Christmas.
I have my dad over from the UK right now, he came for Christmas which was wonderful, and so although I’m playing hostess, we’ve all kept things very easy going. Luckily none of my family are high maintenance visitors so I’m very lucky like that. It’s always more me feeling like I have to be looking after them, making sure everyone’s having a good time, or have an agenda for each day, and I’ve consciously made an effort to be a little less full on with that - which I have to admit I think everyone is enjoying - including my dad and especially my husband.
So, I am ready to tackle and hit some goals and so I thought I’d share with you a super-simple, clear and actionable way that your teen can help themselves move forwards and get into more productive habits.
Plus, I’ll give you a couple of bonus pointers that I think really take this idea to the next level in terms of it’s effectiveness and in terms of actually achieving those goals. And this is something that anyone can use, so you might like to give a go as well. In fact, the first time I heard of this - because this is NOT a system that I came up with myself - but the first time I heard it, it was on a business and marketing podcast and the host was sharing it from someone THEY’D heard which was actually in relation to more personal aspects. So I’m afraid I don’t know the right person to accredit this model to, but I can tell you that it isn’t me. But they were talking about how they were using it to become a better parent and husband whilst also being a business owner. And I can tell you that I have specifically used it with teachers when I’ve delivered workshops for schools and for professional development seminars. It has been a part of the evaluation and action steps I walk teachers through. So it really can be applied to any type of person for any situation and in any way you want.
So here it is. I’ll tell you the system and then I’ll explain how I would relate it to students and I’ll give you a couple of ways I think it can be honed for you to specifically use it with your teen for their study. And I’ll give you some specific examples AND like I said, a couple of bonus tips to maximise it too.
Okay, so here’s what it is.
You identify something - a habit or a process or a way of living or working, that you’ll start, stop and keep doing.
So, have your teen think about and commit to - or talk about it together and decide together - something they’ll start doing, something they’ll stop doing, and something they’ll keep doing.
So, in terms of your teen and their study, this would be something that they want to start doing in their study that will get them the outcomes or results they want, something they ideally need to STOP doing, something that’s currently hindering their progress or preventing them from working or achieving in the best possible way, and something that they’re already doing right, that’s helping them and that they need to keep up and keep doing.
And, the reason that I like this model is that it’s super-practical.
I love that it’s all about the HOW.
Because when you think about it, other models, like setting SMART goals, they often specify the goal, but they don’t then consider the HOW.
It’s about goal-setting, rather than the achievement - how it’s actually going to happen.
And I think this is why students tend to yawn, groan or roll their eyes whenever there’s yet another goal-setting exercise given to them at school. Because they’ve set goals left right and centre, but often, there’s very little follow through or follow up. How often do those goals actually get revisited?
For example, let’s take SMART goals as that’s probably one of the most common goal setting models: So S for specific, M for measurable, A is achievable, R - relevant, and T - time bound. Nothing wrong with that, all good things to consider, but where’s the HOW?
If you’ve ever attended any of my webinars or events or even just been following me on the podcast for a while, you’ll know I’m all about the HOW when it comes to training and coaching hardworking teens in their study.
Because, in my experience, they’re so often missing the HOW. They get the WHAT, they need the HOW.
For example, they get the feedback on their work “Add more detail” - but they’re not always sure HOW? How do they do that without just writing more info or ending up waffling?
Or “Answer the question?” HOW? How do they figure out exactly what the question IS really asking and what the mark scheme therefore demands?
Wanting to hit more of the high level success criteria - like going from appropriate to discerning evidence - HOW? What makes the evidence discerning as opposed to appropriate? And of course my non-favourite… the good-old ‘study smarter not harder’. Sounds great - HOW?
So this is my first bonus tip on this: you could use a SMART goal or take any goal that’s been set in any way that your teen wants to achieve - and then layer this start, stop, keep method on top.
So, set the goal and then talk about what would need to change, in what way, and what would need to continue for that goal to be achieved. To create that outcome, what would they have to start doing that they aren’t doing already? What needs to be happening that isn’t happening right now or hasn’t in the past? Or perhaps they have done sometimes or a little, but they’re not doing enough, and need to do more, or be more consistent with?
Then, what would they need to stop doing? What is causing them to be less efficient or produce lower quality work than they are capable of?
And what are they already doing that they need to maintain - what’s already happening that they need to keep up?
And that last one is important, because I think that’s a really nice opportunity to acknowledge the positives, to identify their strengths and the areas that are working well.
Perhaps they are already taking time to carefully proofread their assignments before they hand in and that’s helping them produce high-quality writing. Or perhaps they are already looking for and identifying command words in every question, and that’s serving them really well and they need to continue doing that. Or perhaps they already study with their phone out of the room. Or ask their teacher for help when they don’t get something first time around. This is a great way to include some praise and recognition of what has already brought them success so far.
Because, sometimes there is this tendency to only focus on what needs to be changed, what’s not working or what they need to do differently. And I know that for focused and committed and hardworking teens, the idea that they are going to pile on even more demands, put more and more onto their plate can feel pretty overwhelming, and will likely end up feeling heavy rather than energising or exciting.
And so here’s an added little suggestion: this situation could also be a consideration for the STOP element. It could be something detrimental that they need to stop doing, but it could also be something that is simply causing them to work harder than they need to, or that means they are too exhausted for other things that are more important to them or could be more effective. For example, they might STOP writing out all their notes longhand word for word. Because not only is that more time-consuming, but it also isn’t the most effective way to learn and digest and remember information. And they might want to START condensing their notes as they write, transforming information into a different format and processing the information.
BUT… here’s my second tip: Don’t use the same issue for the start and the stop. In that example I just gave, the issue is the same. It’s the issue or I should really say the skill of note-taking. And automatically, if they start condensing and transforming information, then they will no longer be writing it all out long hand.
Now, I’m all for efficiency and killing two birds with one stone, - oh my goodness, I saw someone in an online post recently highlight how horrible that saying actually is when you properly think about it - and ever since, it’s really stuck with me - and they gave an alternative, which was FEED two birds with one SCONE - like Scone/scone. Which I thought was kinda cool, but it’s gonna take a while for that flows easily out of my mouth - or probably for everyone else to get it too. But, anyhow, if we really want to maximise the outcome or result, then we likely don’t want to lose one third of the action steps by making it the same thing.
So, tip one - layer the start, stop, keep on top of a goal to help make HOW to achieve it clear and actionable.
Tip two - Identify different start and stop actions.
And bonus mini-tip: If they are already overloaded and putting a ton of pressure on themselves, consider the TOP element as an opportunity to find something that could be reduced or removed - and take on the challenge of having that not just not reduce their results, but is there actually something that could even create even better results. Like not writing out page after page of long hand notes, but learning how to make more effective and faster notes - both during learning and research - that’s in Catapult 3 of the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program in case you are curious on that, and during revision and exam prep - which is in Catapult 5.
And then here’s my third tip or suggestion: Now, this ties in with the conversation I had with Michelle Mitchel here on the podcast a couple of months ago which you can find in episode 22. When her son had his finals, she asked him what she could do to be supportive or helpful- asked him what he wanted rather then guessing what she thought. And I realised, when I thought back to this, while I was planning out this episode, that his answers to her actually fitted this perfectly. Because, he told her that he wanted her to stop talking so much and that he’d love for her to make him some good tasty lunches. So tip 3 is that you could also a way to find out what your teen would love from you to help and support them. Rather than being a blank canvas that can lead to ‘I dunno’ answers from teenagers sometimes (call me stereotypical, but I’m just referencing me as a teenager here really!), it could give you both something simple and clear to work with. By asking them, what would you like me to start doing, stop doing, and that all-important ‘keep doing’ which tells you what they actually appreciate and like from you already - which I’m sure can sometimes feel like nothing. (Again, I speak from my experience as a teenager).
So, for something simple and actionable and to give clear and tangible ways to move forwards and upwards this year, the start, stop, keep model could be a good model for your teen. Ideally have get a specific study-related goal in mind, and then they can come up with a start, a stop, and a keep for that goal. They think ‘If I’m going to achieve that outcome or result, what would I have to start doing, what would I have to stop doing, and what should I keep doing?’
And I invite you or your teen to get my input on any study-related items for this if you’d like it. If your teen has a study goal and you or they would like my advice on specifically what they need to start or stop doing (obviously I don’t necessarily know what they are already doing in order to keep doing - but you can fill me in on that too if you’d like), then drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and just put 31, 3-1, in the subject line - for episode 31. I’ll get back to you personally with specific, actionable steps, tips and advice. And I’ll give you an actionable step right now. You can probably guess what it is.
If your teen isn’t already in the 10 Week Grade Transformation program and they’re in Years 9 - 12 or 10 - 13 in high school and they’re good with their subject content, and would love to achieve better results (even if right now they may not even believe that’s possible for them), and do it with less stress, then enrol them in the 10WGT.
Or, if they just want to maintain already excellent results that they’re getting, as they tackle the greater demands of a new year group and you’d love that to happen with less time, effort and struggle along the way, then enrol them into the 10WGT. They get instant access to the whole program and they get started right away. Get in now before life gets busy and the assessments start rolling in.
And hey, that could be the ‘START’ element of start, stop, keep ticked off - and I literally guarantee it will produce the goal of better results, with more confidence and less stress.
Okay, couldn’t let you go without sharing that. I hope that this year is a spectacular one for you and your teen and I’ll be here each week to help you make that a reality in their study.
Have a brilliant week, enjoy the rest of the holiday and I’ll see you back here next week. Bye!