Book Excerpt: Set Goals

The first step in generating motivation in the young person is to help the young person figure out what he or she wants to do in the first place. What is it that the young person hopes the coaching process can help him or her accomplish? Does the young person want to spend a semester abroad? Would the young person like to go to music camp? Does the young person want to save up for a new computer? Identifying a young person’s goals is the first step in the motivational process. After all, it’s hard to get motivated if you don’t know what exactly you’re trying to accomplish.

A key piece of motivating young people (and the rest of us!) is to keep the coaching process tied to what it is that the young person wants and to avoid falling into the trap of advocating for mom and dad’s goals. A basic principle of motivation is that individuals are more likely to attempt to achieve something if the end result is desired by the individuals. For example, when a young person is reading an exciting mystery and wants to know how it ends, he or she will be motivated to spend the time and energy needed to read the book until the mystery is solved. Staying aligned with the young person’s goals—directing him or her to find out what these really are—will play a very important role in the motivational process.