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Looking ahead as 4-H year set to kick off
michelle beran
Michelle Beran

In 4-H, the year begins Oct. 1 and runs to Sept. 30 which means this is a great time of year to reflect on the past year and begin setting goals for the new year! 

As I look as setting goals for myself, I like these three life rules:

1. If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.

2. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

3. If you don’t step forward, you will always be in the same place.

Goals should always stretch your comfort zone and can be a little scary. We encourage 4-H members to really look at the projects they enroll in and set goals for learning opportunities, leadership opportunities, and citizenship opportunities. Sharing about a project at a club meeting or 4-H Club Days is a great way to show leadership especially for our young members. Helping to teach others about a project is a great leadership goal for older, experienced 4-H members.

Goals should always be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely) and we use a pared down version for 4-H members to include Action (How are you going to do something?), Result (What are you going to do? Be specific!), and Timetable (When are you going to do it?). Having these specifics can help identify if something is truly a goal or just a wish as well as helping to measure progress.

Equally important are the resources needed to accomplish your goals – who can help/mentor? What do you need to be successful (scheduled time or materials)? What are the costs associated with your goals? These are not just financial costs as making time to actively work toward a goal means giving up time for something else.

An important part of setting goals is to regularly reevaluate each goal to measure progress or determine if an adjustment needs to be made. Adjusting your method or timeline is not failure; you just may not have had all of the factors when you were setting the goal. 

Setting goals means being willing to risk failure. Face-planting, either physically or theoretically, is hard, awkward, and messy but it can be the best teacher. Learn from the face-plants but keep setting goals and moving forward.

Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth and Development related questions email Michelle at or call 620-793-1910.