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Its a New Year
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Berny Unruh
Barton County 4-H and Youth Development


It is that time of year to grab a pencil and a tablet of paper (or the electronic tablet) and jot down your plans for the direction you are heading for the year. When we buy a new vehicle, we know that it will need a check-up every 10,000 miles. We also need a check-up at least once a year on where we are at with our goals in life.
4-H is a youth “development” program and a portion of that program is learning to set goals. This includes 4-H leaders helping members plan, write and evaluate their progress toward goals. Our 4-H junior leaders met in December and made some plans that included: Learning, Citizenship, Leadership and last but not least, Fun.
Some of the typical “goals” that younger members might list include: win grand champion at the fair, make a birdhouse, go on a trip or maybe just have fun. These thoughts are fine to write down, but are these good goals? There are three parts to a measurable goal: action, results and timetable. The first (action) is how you will do something and the second (results) is what you are going to do. A goal might be to learn how to sew something, or give a talk to the club, or train your dog to sit or lay down. The third part is the timetable or when you are going to do it. You might want to have it done by Christmas, or by June 1 or before the county fair.
Another “test” of a good goal is whether you can actually control the outcome. A goal to win grand champion on your butterfly collection at the county fair sounds good, but in reality someone else has control over that. A judge is hired to make that decision. A goal that is attainable and that is controllable would be, “I want to collect, identify and display six new species of butterflies before this year´s fair”.
Well-written goals will help the leaders, members and parents know exactly where they want their project adventures to take them. The goals will also have in writing how and when they want to arrive. The next step would be to develop a project plan. The plan will be even more specific about how you will arrive at your end goal. Parents can help monitor the progress throughout the year and help determine if the goals need adjusting.
Another important part of making progress towards a goal or accomplishing a goal is to celebrate or be recognized for the hard work. Ribbons or medals are tangible forms of recognition, but often the smile or encouragement by another person is even more important.
It always seems that in a very short period of time the end of the year is here. At that time it is important to evaluate how things went and then it is time to identify new goals for the future. So, don´t wait!  Take some time to make some plans and set some goals for the new year!