Students write about making long-term goals a reality.

Setting Long-Term Goals

Students write about how they can make their long-term goals a reality. (Purpose Challenge Practice #8)

Level: Middle School, High School, College
Duration: ≤ 30 minutes
My Notes: Add/Edit Notes

Planning For It

When You Might Use This Practice


Time Required

  • 30 minutes




Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Write a reflection on what it will take for them to reach their long-term goals


Additional Supports


SEL Competencies

  • Self-Awareness
  • Responsible Decision-Making

How To Do It

Reflection Before the Practice

Reflect on a long-term goal you have set for yourself. What are you doing now to reach that goal? What obstacles might you encounter along the way? What do you need to reach your goal?


Before you Begin

  • This practice is to be completed after the students have finished all seven of the previous practices in the Discover Your Purpose Practice Collection.
  • Students can do the entire series of practices online for free at Have them click on “Toolkit” and then register for an account. When they finish the practices, they will receive a digital record of their written answers for each exercise in addition to instructions on how to take these answers and turn them into a college entrance essay.

The Activity

  • Tell students:
    • Over the past few days/weeks, you’ve been encouraged to reflect on the things that matter most to you, your far-horizon goals, and how you want to make your mark on the world.
    • This last activity is designed to bring it all together as you think about the more immediate steps you need to take to make progress toward your most personally meaningful, long-term aims.
    • Earlier, you were asked to imagine your life at 40 years of age, assuming that things had gone as well as they possibly could have. Think back to that activity. [Have students refer to their completed Best Possible Self handout, if possible.]
    • What long-term goals did you highlight? What steps could you imagine taking to make that long-term vision a reality?
  • Give each student a Setting Long-Term Goals handout.
  • When students have finished, give students the opportunity to share their answers with each other or with the whole class, if they feel comfortable doing so.


  • Ask students to reflect on whether this exercise confirmed their sense of purpose or, if they aren’t sure of their purpose, did it give them any clues or insight into what their purpose might be?



The Purpose Challenge Toolkit was created by Dr. Kendall Cotton-Bronk in partnership with the Greater Good Science Center and Prosocial. For more information, visit

Reflection After the Practice

How did students respond to this practice? Did they find it helpful in helping them decide what their purpose might be?

The Research Behind It

Evidence That It Works

Studies find that pursuing one’s purpose is associated with psychological well-being. For example, compared to others, people with purpose report they are happier, more satisfied with their lives, and more hopeful about the future.

For teens, purpose is related to indicators of academic success, such as grit, resilience, and a belief that one’s work is feasible and manageable.


Why Does It Matter?

In spite of the benefits, only about 20% of adolescents lead lives of purpose. Granted, the developmental task of teenagers is to discover who they are (identity) and what they want to accomplish that benefits the world (purpose); however, students who have a sense of purpose or are actively looking for one are propelled by a personally meaningful and highly motivating aim–they know what they hope to achieve and how academics can help. Hence, they are more likely to work hard and excel in school.


“Eyes forward. Mind focused. Heart ready. Game on, World.”
–Akshita Prakash
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