Teenage goal setting failures and successes will teach your teen a lot. Here are example goals for teenagers plus help to get them started.

Teenage goal setting is an activity very worth pursuing – it can teach your teenager so many skills they’ll appreciate as young adults.teenager on pink bed goal setting, text overlay "26 example goals for teenagers"

Off the top of my head, a few include being able to estimate how long it’ll take you to accomplish something, planning ahead, taking initiative for working on the things you want in your life, asking for help, and many, many more.

I’ve got some great goals for teenagers covering many different areas of life, such as academic goals, life goals, education goals, and money goals.

First up, let’s discuss a few things to consider when goal setting with teens.

Psst: Got kids you want to help with goal setting? Check out my guide on goal setting for kids.

Teenage Goal Setting Strategies to Help

When you’re setting goals for the first time – which a teen likely is, since they’re so young – there are some special pitfalls you want to watch out for.

Let me name a few common pitfalls of teen goal setting:

  • Not knowing what to choose for your goal/never actually choosing one
  • Setting a goal that will take too long to reach
  • Setting a goal when you’ve got no consistent income or earnings
  • Setting a goal that your parents don’t approve of
  • Dedicating too much of your income to a goal that doesn’t help your future

Instead, here are some guidelines to help when teaching your teenager how to set goals they have a chance of achieving.

#1: Get them Started on Quick-Win Goals

If they’ve never actually achieved a goal before – meaning, chosen a goal and seen it through to its successful completion – then you need to help guide them in choosing a short-term or “quick-win” goal.

That’s because they need to feel confident that putting in the time and effort and money it’ll take to reach a goal is worth it.

And if they get a few quick wins under their belt early on in their goal-setting process? Then they’re way more likely to come back to the goal-setting line again and again.

Each time they do, they can set an incrementally more difficult one to reach.

Here’s something I created to help them take all their wants and needs and focus in on a few quick-win goals to choose from.

#2: Allow them Freedom, with Guardrails

Here’s one of the most important things to know about teenage goal setting (and any goal setting):

The person who is going to go through the energy, time, and money of accomplishing the goal needs to actually choose the goal – and it’s got to be something they want to be/do/have.

You’re in a special situation with teen goal setting because everything definitely still needs to be approved by a parent(s).

SO, what I suggest you and your teen do is have them come up with a list of things they want to be/do/have (use the free printable from above to brainstorm all of these), and then pick out the 5 or so that are parent-approved so that they still get to choose what they want as their goal.

#3: Help them Calculate the Cost

Many goals will cost some kind of money in order to accomplish – whether that’s buying supplies, application fees, or money you’ll need to make the purchase.

One way you can help your teen to figure out whether their goal is short-term or long-term is to determine how many hours or allowance cycles they’ll have to work in order to afford it.

Walk them through the process of determining this by making a list of all the supplies/materials/fees/costs associated with the goals they’ve narrowed down (and that you’ve approved of), and then write down all their income sources at the moment.

You want them to understand the costs in terms of something that makes sense to them, such as:

  • Number of Hours They’ll Need to Work: If they have an hourly job, divide the total costs by their hourly rate to find out how many hours it will cost them in time and energy to get what they want.
  • Number of Allowance Weeks They’ll Need: If their main income source is an allowance, help them figure out how many allowance cycles (weekly, bi-weekly, once-a-month, etc.) they’ll need to dedicate to the goal in order to achieve it. Do this by dividing the total costs to accomplish the goal by the allowance pay they receive every allowance payday.

Let me give you an example using both methods from above. Let’s say your teen’s goal is to go to horse riding summer camp next summer, and the cost is $350. You’ve approved this goal, so it’s time to figure out how long it will take them to achieve it to see if it’s a good goal to go after, or not.

If your teen earns $9.15 at a job, then you would take $350/$9.15, to find that if they dedicated all their income to this goal, it would take them about 38 hours of working to achieve it.

If your teen gets an allowance of $15 each week, and they dedicated all that money to their goal, then it would take them $350/$15, or about 23 weeks to achieve it.

After you run through these calculations, then ask your teen if the goal is worth it or not worth it in their eyes.

Hint: Don’t pass judgment. It’s easy to do, because we see the world through our own eyes. Rather you want to allow your teenager to make their own judgments and live with them. That’s part of the confidence-building part of growing up.

Now that we’ve gone over this, I’d like to offer up lots of green example goals for teenage girls and boys to tackle.

Example Goals for Teenagers

I’ve broken down these goals for teenagers by category. Feel free to swipe the ones that make sense for you and your teen!

Teen Academic/Education Goals

  • Congressional Award Program: By completing either the Bronze, Silver, or Gold level for the Congressional Award program, you’ll be adding an impressive achievement to your resume. You can start this at 13.5 years old, and you have until you are 24 to complete it.
  • Graduate high school
  • Get a leadership position in an organization you’re apart of
  • Complete a driver’s ed course
  • Learn how to change a flat tire
  • Learn how to jumpstart a car
  • Learn how to change your car’s oil
  • Get an internship in a field you’re interested in

Teen Life Goals

  • Learn to drive/get your driver’s license
  • Start a diary/journal
  • Train for and run a 5K
  • Write your first story
  • Learn how to cook one of your grandmother’s recipe
  • Travel abroad
  • Complete confirmation or baptismal classes

Teen Money Goals

  • Buy a prom gown
  • Get your first job
  • Buy siblings/parents Christmas presents
  • Get off your parent’s cell phone plan and pay for your own
  • Buy a used car
  • Save up for first month’s rent/last month’s rent/security deposit for first apartment
  • Buy horse lessons
  • Apply to 1 new scholarship a week
  • Go to senior week after graduation
  • Go on a trip over spring break with friends
  • Save $500

Any of these, plus any that your teens come up with, could be great goals for teenagers, goals for tweens, and goals for teenage girls. And remember that a list of things to accomplish as a teenager is not nearly important to check off as just helping your teenager with goal setting so that they can learn from the process and be better prepared as an adult.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2016 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.