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Get what you want!

Wish you could make the team? Get better grades? Start your own business? Be the next Britney? We show you how to get there--one step at a time...

Do you have dreams and wishes? Of course, you do! Everyone does. It's fun to imagine the amazing things you might achieve someday--developing your very own dance company, traveling to far-off lands, being at the hub of a big business. But what about today? Are you doing anything right now to make your dreams come true?

"I'm too young to do anything cool," you say? Wrong! You're never too young to go for your dreams. Matter of fact, now's a stellar time to start!

How? By setting goals. It's not as tough as you might think. How would you complete the next sentence? If I could do anything, I would_____.

Congratulations! You've just taken the first step in getting what you want--you've set a goal. Now the choice is yours. Will you push your aspirations aside as unreachable fantasies, or will you go for 'em?

Read on because we're about to let you in on the secrets to turning all your dreams into reality. And, we introduce you to girls who took the appropriate steps to make things happen for themselves right now!

GOALS--WHY YOU NEED 'EM

How do you make your way from where you are today to an exciting tomorrow? By taking action. You can't just want something and expect it to happen. Instead, you need to be a girl with a plan. This is where goal-setting comes in. Your goals make up the how-to map for navigating your way toward your dreams. Goals also help stretch your comfort zone, boost your confidence and improve your outlook on life. Best of all? Goals help you feel more in control.

Some goals--like learning the lyrics to a new song, training for a 10K or writing a new computer program--can be accomplished in a day, a week or a month. These are called short-term goals. Others take longer. Long-term goals are things like graduating from college, buying a car or working in a law office.

BE SMART ABOUT YOUR GOALS

While it's important to know the difference between short-and long-term goals, every goal you make for yourself needs to be SMART. What does that mean? Well...

Savvy--The goal is easy-to-understand and actually means something to you.

Instead of: "Be a better person."

Your SMART Goal: "Respect my friend Amanda by not talking behind her back anymore."

Measurable--Rather than being vague, the goal says exactly what you want to accomplish.

Instead of: "Feel better about myself."

Your SMART Goal: "Eat more healthfully by packing my lunch for school four days a week and stop going for the extra-value meals at fast-food restaurants."

Active--The goal has a clear action that you need to take.

YOUR SMAR Goal: "Improve my shot percentage by at least 20 percent by practicing one hour every Saturday and Sunday during the season.'

Reachable--Based on your skills and experience, the goal is realistic.

Instead of: "Be the best basketball player on the team."

Instead of: "Get an A+ in math."

Your SMART Goal: "Boost my math grade up by at least one letter by the end of this semester."

Timed--You have a clear timeline for when you'll be able to say, "I did it."

Instead of: "Get a new bike."

Your SMART Goal: "Save enough of my money to buy a new bike by the time spring hits."

POWER OF THE P'S

In addition to being SMART, your goals should have the power of the three P's. They should be:

* Positive! Who could get fired up about the following goal? "Start working out, so I won't get fat." Phrase your goals using positive language so you'll feel good about what you're trying to accomplish. Try, "Exercise for 30 minutes every day to stay fit, and put on some hip-hop to make it more fun."

* Personal! Your goals should really be meaningful to you, and reflect your dreams and values. Sure, it's great that your dad wants you to be the captain of the tennis team but, unless you are passionate and committed, success will be hard to come by.

* Possible! You can't become a star student or top athlete overnight. It's important to consider what's actually do-able so you don't feel disappointed about the outcome. Say you have a major crush on a guy and want him to feel the same way about you. No matter how hard you try to win him over, he might only like you as a bud. Remember--you can't control other people's feelings and actions, so keep that in mind when setting your goals.

CREATE A GOAL JOURNAL

Now that you understand how to set reasonably great goals, write them down in a Goal Journal. Grab an empty notebook, and start making a list! Having your goals neatly outlined on paper helps you think clearly about what it is you want to achieve and gets you totally stoked for success.

THE ACTION PLAN!

Now that you're down with your goals, it's time to plot a step-by-step action plan for getting what you want. Think of it as a ladder. Every step you need to take to reach each goal represents a rung of the ladder. The more steps you complete, the closer you are to the top.

One step at a time. Make a list of all the things you need to do to reach your goal. Put them in order, beginning with the first step and so on, and give yourself a deadline for each step. Sign and date your goal so you'll stay committed to achieving it.

Form a Dream Team. Think you have to go for your goals all by yourself? You don't! If you didn't have others--friends, parents, teachers--to help you, chances are you wouldn't get very far. Make a list of five people you trust to help you reach your goal. They will make up your Dream Team. To recruit them, explain why you'd like their support and ask if they're willing to be a member of your Dream Team. Once you have a few people who are in, write their names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mall addresses in your Goal Journal. Keep it handy so you can call on your Dream Team whenever you need advice, motivation or help.

Chart your progress. While working toward your goal, mark up your Goal Journal as you finish stuff. Put stickers by steps you've completed, or write, "Way to go!" You can even highlight each completed step in a funky color.

Why do this? Well, when you remind yourself of your progress--especially when you're doing well--you'll feel compelled to do even better. If you're not making as much progress as you'd hoped, instead of giving up, get motivated! Write, "Hang in there!"

No procrastinators allowed. Are you dawdling, putting off doing the things that would help you move closer to the end result? The longer you procrastinate, the less psyched you'll probably be. You could even put off your goal (and the dream it supports) for so long that you forget about it altogether.

If you're having trouble kicking things off, pull out your Goal Journal. Make a list of all the negative thoughts and fears that are holding you back, no matter how big or small. Now, tear out the list, wad it up and throw it out. Tell yourself you're not going to let negative thoughts get in the way of your goal.

STUCK IN A RUT?

You're taking risks and facing challenges that are likely new to you. At times, you might feel totally energized but, other times, overwhelmed, scared or just plain stuck. Don't let anything get in your way. Here are common obstacles and how you can bust your way through them.

Problem: "I don't even have any idea where to start."

Solution: Ask someone to spend time with you brainstorming ideas.

Problem: "I'm worried that I might fail."

Solution: Why freak? If you fall flat on your face, you can always try again. Plus, you'll be surprised at what you learn in the process even if you don't succeed.

Problem: "I don't have enough time to do a good job."

Solution: Make time. Limit telephone gab sessions to 10 minutes. Cut back on TV trance time or pointless Net surfing.

Problem: "I feel stressed out."

Solution: Extend your deadlines to give yourself some more time if needed.

Problem: "Things aren't really going the way I had planned."

Solution: Regroup. Sit down and create a revised action plan.

KEEP ON GOING

After you've taken a few deep breaths and enjoyed the rush of achieving your goal, where do you go next? Most likely, you'll have other goals...so get moving!

Life is a continuous process of going after your dreams. You'll never be "finished" because you're always growing and changing, dreaming new dreams and figuring out new goals.

Feeling revved up and totally focused one day, stuck or sidetracked the next, are the normal ups and downs of the goal-getting process.

You're unstoppable as long as you keep up the cycle. Imagine how you'll feel when you have what you really want and are living the life of your dreams. Why wait one more day to begin? Are you ready? Set? Go, girl!

RELATED ARTICLE: Ally, 15, and Sauni, 12, find a Dream Team to help them save Zimbabwe's AIDS orphans.

Ally Govere and her sister Sauni were born in the United States but moved to their father's homeland of Zimbabwe when they were 4 and 1. Growing up there. Ally remembers seeing many children living on the streets. "I felt pain in my heart every time. I saw a homeless kid," Ally says. Later she learned the children were kids whose parents had died of AIDS. When her family returned to the United States five years later. Ally and Sauni couldn't forget the Zimbabwe orphans. So they collected their extra clothes and books to ship to adoption agencies, along with their allowances. The girls felt good about what they were doing but they wanted to expand their operation and knew they needed help. Ally discovered Youth Venture (www.youthventure.org), an organization that helps 12-to-20-year-olds realize their dreams. Ally applied for Youth Venture's assistance to form Assisting AIDS Orphans (AAO) and that is when the project really took off. "With grant money," Sauni says, "we bought office supplies and paid for posta ge. Plus, we made brochures." The girls often turn to a mentor at Youth Venture when they have questions or if a problem arises. Also, Ally and Sauni's friends and other people they know work with AAO. The girls also set up a Web site (www.geocities.com/Zimbabwe_gurl/africa), and people from around the world help now, too! And for the orphans who received AAO'S much-needed packages? Ally says, "It seems we have given them hope for the future."

Lindsay Long, 16, goes for a dream--all the way to Antarctica.

Growing up in Virgina, Lindsay often dreamed of becoming a marine biologist and traveling to fat-off places. When an Antarctic expedition was offered to student leaders at her high school, Lindsay knew she'd try for one of the 27 openings. Expressing passion for the trip was the first step, and Lindsay made it clear in a letter that she would love the opportunity. At the end of the school year, interested students' names were put in a hat, and Lindsay's was drawn. "I cried when I found out I'd been chosen," remembers Lindsay. "I was so happy!" A few weeks before departure though the Sept 11 attacks hit America and Lindsay's mother told her it was OK to back out of the trip Conquering fears of the difficult trek from New York to Chile to a research vessel that would take her to remote Antarctica proved the biggest challenge for Lindsay. "I was nervous" she admits. But in the end I had to push my nerves behind me. Lindsay calmed herself by focusing on the trip and all the amazing thing she'd see--wildlife glaci ers the Arctic Ocean. "I concentrated on the positive rather than worrying about things that could go wrong," she says, "I saw graceful whales dipping In and out of the Antarctic Ocean and eerieil and scapes of snow and ice lit but the sun." She learned about penguins the albatross, and many animals that migrate to Antarctica to feed in its rich life filled waters. Now Lindsay shares her experience with other kids. "I kept a have journal which will become a book for teens to see Antarctica through the eyes of someone their age." Lindsay also taped footage that she plans to make into a documentary. "When I return to Antarctica," she says "I plan to lead my own research team!"

Cassie Smith, 15, takes a step at a time toward her dream of a ballet school.

Cassie (pictured, right, in horizontal stripes) thinks all little girls should have a chance to make their ballet dreams come true. "Ballet programs can be expensive," says Cassie, who's been a dancer since she was 5. "I know how much confidence dancing has given me I want all girls regardless of their ability to pay to have the opportunity to dance." First Cassie had to find creative ways to make her idea work While brainstorming solutions it hit Cassie that the library in her North Carolina hometown had an empty room for summer programs. The library also had records and books about dance both of which Cassie could incorporate into her lessons! "I talked to the librarians, and they were impressed by my enthusiasm!" exclaims Cassie. They agreed to give her use of the room and a record player next Cassie needed a support system. Although she knew she could teach basic after 10 years of lessons herself, Cassie wanted back up. She got friends Cayler Thomas Sarah Burton and Emma Chandler to help her teach. "I cou ldn't have succeeded without my friends," says Cassie. "They help keep me going." Cassie hung a sing-up sheet in the library offering free ballet lessons. Soon, her Thursday afternoon classes were full with girls ages 3 to 14. After a few lessons, Cassie contacted her local Arts Council. At Cassie's persuasion, the Arts Council agreed to help her find money to provide shoes, leotards and tights. Cassie's students have held performances at her local senior center, the library and a Christmas recital. "It feels really good to know that I'm building these girls self-confidence," says Cassie. And we're sure Cassie built her own confidence even more in the process.

Melissa Jones, 13, nurses her dream long bream long before she thought she's ever get the chance.

Melissa had always thought about becoming a nurse. "Nursing seemed like such a cool career," says Melissa, "but I knew it would be years and years before I'd get a chance to be in medicine." But Melissa's chance came much sooner than she thought it would, thanks to a two-week nursing camp in Manchester. N.H. Last year, Melissa talked to her union high guidance counselor about her goal to be a nurse. Imagine her surprise when the counselor told her about a nursing camp that provides hands-on learning for people her age. To apply, Melissa wrote an essay explaining that attending the camp would help her figure out it she's like to pursue nursing. And she got "" The camp created by faculty members at St. Anselm College to help students focus on their futures at a young age lets 27 campers attend free of charge. "I loved the hands-on work," says Melissa. We learned how to check vital signs move a patient the right way to change the sheets on an occupied bed and we used dolls to learn how to feed and wash newborns. We toured an intensive care unit, and we saw just-born babies in the nursery. But my favorite part was visiting a nursing home and talking to the older residents about their lives and their past-that was amazing. I think I might go into geriatric nursing now. She also learned a lot more about nurses. "I appreciate what nurses do so much more now." Melissa admits. And she's more serious now than even about entering the protession. "You really are never too young to think ahead," she says. "I learned things I though I wouldn't know until I was much older, Now I know what I want to do in the future."

WHAT DO I WANT TO DO IN LIFE?

Here's one way to start figuring it out.

Every day, you're bombarded with hundreds of messages telling you what you should want and who you should be. Regardless of whether your goals are short- or long-term, they should be things you want, not things your parents, friends, teachers or others want for you.

Exploring your dreams and wishes--even the ones that seem impossible and out of reach--helps you begin imagining the future you want. So spend 10 minutes thinking about the following questions....

* What do I enjoy doing? Why?

* What don't I enjoy doing? Why?

* What are my talents or skills?

* What do I like to read about?

* Who or what do I really care about?

* What do I most often daydream about?

Make a Top Five list of what you want. Focus on what's truly meaningful to you. Write your Top Fives into sentences that start with the words "I want."

DREAM STARTERS

Need help "" Use these Dream Starters "" what's important to you.

DREAM STARTER #1

Write about three people you know and admire (such as friends, family members teachers coaches, neighbors) What do they do that you think is great? What makes them special?

DREAM STARTER #2

Write about three people you admire but haven't met (for example celebrities athlets, artists historical figures) What have they done that you think is great? What makes them special in your eyes?

DREAM STARTER #3

Imagine you're 70 years old and your friends are honoring you with a Lifetime Achievement Award. What will they say about you? What did you do in your life that they think is special? Did you go to college? Create art? Start a business? Were you generous to your friends? Committed in a cause?

GOAL-SETTERS SUCCESS KIT

KITCHEN TIMER A body in motion tends to stay in motion. So, set your timer for 10 minutes, and take one step, no matter how small, toward your goal. Sometimes, doing one thing wilt get you motivated enough to continue.

CALENDAR Just as you schedule other important things, such as soccer practice or celebrating your best bud's birthday, a calendar can help you schedule the tasks you need to complete to achieve your goals.

DREAM SPOT All successful goal-getters need a quiet, comfy place to ponder success. Find a special place where you won't be disturbed, such as a corner of your bedroom or under a tree. Clear your mind, and imagine yourself reaching your goal. Yes, daydream. The more clearly you can picture yourself achieving your goal, the more likely you'll actually do it.

THANK-YOU CARDS Whether you need a ride to practice, money for lessons or someone to teach you, don't be afraid to ask friends, parents, teachers or others for help. Then be sure to show your appreciation and thank them.

REWARD BOX Write rewards for yourself, like a trip to Baskin-Robbins, on slips of paper and put them into a small, colorful box. When you meet a deadline, draw a slip from the box and enjoy your reward.

Stay Positive!

Brittnie Simmons, 12 stays positive and tries everything she possibly can.

Brittnie has always known that she's a little bit different from other girls but that's never stopped her from embracing lite to its absolute fullest Born a paraplegir because of a birth dates called spina bifida, Brittnie made it a top priority to find ways to enjoy as much as everything that other kids get to do She did it with inner strength and determination-from the life-size, hand-controlled Barbie jeep she drove at age 4 to her first grade cheerleader try-outs. She auditored from a wheelchair and made the squad! "I knew there were things people though I couldn't do because can't use my legs' says Brittnie But as she figured out al the things she could do, Brittnie gained the confidence in break down the so-called barriers one day at a time She user a hand-operated bicycle to participant in the bike rodeo at school. And when she signed up to classica piano lessons, she got a modified piano will hand pedals. And last year Brittnie theame a member of in Flight Dance, a San Antonio-based wheelchair ballet troupe "No one has ever disc ouraged me from trying something" says Brittnie. "But they're all surprised when they see what I can do. This girls really gets that life is a continous cycle of goal-setting and that life is truly an adventure.

--All personal stories written by Melissa Walker

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH

While achieving goals often requires hardwork the process should be fun. Try these fun-raisers to jump-start your success.

GET PUMPED UP.

Find someone you can count on to feed your ego and go to him on her for an emergency pick-me-up sometimes just hearing some-one say. "I believe in you" is enough to get you through.

THROW A PITY PARTY.

Invite your friends over for a pity party. Designate a set amount of time during which you can complain moan and groan to each other then, when your time's up move on by encouraging each other to get back on track.

SET ANTI-DEADLINES.

These are the opposite of rewards. Tell yourself, "If I don't do it by 5 p.m. I can't hang out with my friends tonight."

TRY IT ON FOR SIZE.

Just like you try on a new pair of jeans before buying them try your goals on for size. If you want to be a singer, create a cover for your debut CD.

Want more help with your goals? We have 25 copies of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go For A Guide for Teens to give away. Be one of the first 25 girls motivated enough to send us a postcard to What Do You Want? GL, 4517 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21214 and we'll send you out a copy.

Beverly Bachel is a lifelong goal-getter, motivational speaker and author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go For It! A Guide for Teens (Free Spirit, 2001). She's also founder of Idea Girls, a group of entrepreneurs dedicated to helping girls use their creativity to pursue their dreams. To learn more, visit www.TeenGoalGetters.com or www.IdeaGirls.com.
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Author:Bachel, Beverly
Publication:Girls' Life
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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