Have you ever made resolutions and forgotten them by the next week? Do you want to accomplish things this school year, but don't know how? There's a saying that goes, He who aims for nothing will always achieve it. Goals aren't limited to the beginning of the new school year, or New Year's Day - you can start today.

  • Choose areas for improvement. Stop and think about your study skills, school performance, and daily life. What needs improvement? Do old habits need breaking, or does a new habit need to be formed? Are there hobbies you want to learn or talents/skills you want to improve? Do you want to make more friends or better grades?

  • Choose one or two focus areas. Limiting your choices allows you to give more time and thought to specific areas for improvement. You may decide to improve your academic performance and your fitness level; or to achieve more in your Christian walk and relationships. Decide which areas are most important to you. You can always change your mind or add new choices as you meet your goals.

  • Set specific goals. Most resolutions are too vague and lack focus. I will exercise or I will read my Bible every day are good resolutions, but go a step further to set a more specific goal.

    • Decide exactly what it is you want to accomplish. Be specific: I want to improve my test scores in history.

    • Know your end point. How will you know when you have completed your goal?

  • Talk to God about your goals. God knows you better and loves your far more than any human can. He knows what you can accomplish. He knows the plans He has for you. Ask Him for wisdom in setting and achieving goals. Trust in God's promise to give you the strength to follow through. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13).

  • Make a game plan. Now that you have a list of specific goals, you need a workable plan to accomplish them.

    • Be specific. Suppose you've decided that you want to achieve an overall history test average of 90% and your test average is 70%. To get to your end point you will need to raise your average 20%.

    • List possible ways to get from your present point to your end point.

    • Organize your ideas into a plan. List them step by step in the order you plan to do them. For example: 1. Listen in class. 2. Take notes and review them each night. 3. Read the textbook assignment and add important information to class notes. 4. Once the test is announced, spend 15 minutes a night studying notes and memorizing details. 5. Spend two hours on Saturday reviewing with a friend or having a parent quiz you.

    • Keep talking to God about your goal. He will give you the guidance and strength to achieve your goal - or to change it.

  • Check your progress. Each week or month, check your progress. Ask yourself: Is my game plan working? Am I any closer to my goal? Am I still interested in achieving this goal? You may need to re-evaluate your goal and rework your game plan. Don't think of this as a failure, but a way to make your goals more achievable.

From: The Junior High Survival Manual by Katrina L. Cassel. Copyright (c) 1998 by Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo., 1-800-325-3040. Used by permission under license number 00:2-51.