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Your girls dream big and want to change the world! Goal setting is one of their most powerful tools to succeed. Whether they’re planning a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award Project, organizing a community service trip, or hoping to get into their perfect college, your girls can achieve their dreams with these tips on setting specific, achievable Girl Scout goals. 

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Goal! 

It’s time to break out the craft paper and pens! As the girls brainstorm their goals together, write them down. You can distinguish between individual goals and group goals with different color pens. To get the conversation started, consider your girls. What do they already know about setting goals? Are they open and confident with discussing their ideas together, or would the conversation get farther by answering a survey ahead of time about their wishes to learn, experience, and take action? Or are they younger and likely to need to talk about what goal setting is first? 

In order to make your goals successful they’ll need to be S.M.A.R.T.E.R.: Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented and Achievable, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-bound. As you go through the first five elements, you’ll Evaluate and Readjust. Let’s review:

What is a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal? 

S – Specific: What exactly do I want to happen? 

  • WHY it matters: This is where the foundation for an achievable goal resides. A goal needs to be specific with as little ambiguous language as possible. At this step, clarify who is involved, what to accomplish, where will it be done, and what to watch out for (issues or obstacles to consider). 

M – Measurable: I will know I have reached this goal when… 

  • WHY it matters: This is how the progress to the goal will be tracked and the outcome measured. 

A – Action-Oriented and Achievable: What steps are needed to take to reach the goal? With hard work, is it possible to reach this goal by the deadline? 

  • WHY it matters: This is where the steps to reach the goal are broken down into manageable pieces. 

R – Realistic and Relevant: My goal is important enough for me to put a plan into action. I will follow this specific plan to reach my goal… 

  • WHY it matters: This is the time to evaluate the steps outlined above in A. Are they reasonably able to be done within my time frame? As well, evaluate the motivation behind the goal. Ask what is the motivation? Is this important enough to stick with it over time? 

T – Time-Bound: I will reach my goal within this timeframe… 

  • WHY it matters: This is the when. Understanding the need to set a limit of time allows for focus on the steps to reach the goal. It establishes a sense of urgency and prompts time management. 

E – Evaluate: Along the way to my goal, reflect on: How is it going? Smoothly or Bumpy? Can I reach my goal with my initial steps, or am I hitting roadblocks?  

  • WHY it matters: Part of the process of achieving goals is evaluating along the way how it’s going. This makes it much easier to remember that she’s not there yet, and helps her develop resiliency if (well, realistically when) she encounters a roadblock. By frequently evaluating and reflecting on her progress, she’ll be much more likely to develop healthy problem-solving strategies, a challenge-seeking mindset, and perseverance, in addition to achieving her goals. 

R – Readjust: I have not reached my goal YET. How can I adjust my S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal outline and steps to reach my overall goal?  

  • WHY it matters: This is the opportunity to improvise, adapt and overcome. By identifying that, despite obstacles, we are able to move forward, modify our original expectations, and make adjustments in our plan, we can still successfully reach our goals 

Begin with an example from their list of goals, whether you pick it or they do, and go through the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. criteria. Is this goal specific or vague? Use examples from their goals to outline the distinction between specific and vague language, between measurable and not measurable, etc.  

At this point it is important to foster a growth mindset by referencing their goals as not yet meeting the criteria. Keep in mind goal setting is a powerful skill for your girls and you want it to be a positive experience. Be aware, monitor them for signs of mental over-saturation, and if it’s needed take a break and continue the conversation after a snack or a get-up-and-move game. With S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals, you can guide your dreamers to success now and long into their future.  

What to do next: 


Gwen Shapiro—Gwen is the Retail/Product Program Specialist for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she supports girls and volunteers with all things cookies, fall product, uniforms, GSNorCal gear, and more. As an East Bay Area native she started Girl Scouts at 6 years old, and was the 3rd generation in her family to be a leader/camp counselor of their daughter’s troop before joining the GSNorCal Redwoods Area staff in 2011. Gwen grew up hiking and camping throughout Northern California and loves to continue that tradition whenever she can. She is passionate about Girl Scouting and all its opportunities for adventures and learning in the outdoors, STEM, leadership, and the Product Program, helping girls to discover their own passions.