7 Goal-setting Games And Activities For High School Students

Being in high school is a time that opens us up to a universe of possibilities and opportunities, and with that comes an ever-flowing rush of new ideas, thoughts, emotions, and notions. 

High schoolers, we understand you and the immense potential you carry. Here, we have got you covered. Goal setting, in general understanding, is as simple as it sounds. A goal can be anything you desire to achieve, from the smallest of chores like waking up and eating, to the intensive, long-term goals like preparing for an upcoming examination or competition. 

This is where goal setting comes in, including a clear arrangement of one’s present and future plans, targets, and aspirations, all in one place. Research has revealed that goal-setting[1] greatly affects student learning and performance in the classroom. Hence, to employ this and make it fun at the same time, this blog post brings you the list of interactive yet valuable games and activities that cater to the required role. 

Empowering goal-setting games & activities for high schoolers

Setting personal goals elevates self-awareness and provides a clear idea of the possible actions, plans, and aspirations, thereby increasing motivation. Employing games and activities promotes higher productivity and interest levels, quality of work, and reduction of stress. With this in view, given below activities and games not only create a space for students that heightens their potential but also ignites their ambitious sides. 

1. Create your own vision board

 In a classroom setting, it is essential for everyone to not just be aware of their goals as a collective batch, but also their individual goals for the day in school. In this activity, a group of students and peers can come together to make a pictorial representation of their weekly schedule, divided in a way that lists their day-to-day goals. 

Vision Board

One way to do this easily is on a whiteboard or a paper chart, dividing it into rows and columns, with their timetables and day-to-day goals written accordingly. This can be done in a competitive spirit. In this sense, let’s say, the one who completes and ticks off their daily goals first, wins, and gets to choose a topic of their choice and interest for an upcoming debate or discussion, or gets to decide the next day’s goals for everyone. 

For example, the daily goal of studying for three hours, or completing one’s assignments can be up on the visionary board and can be checked off by the ones who complete it first. This allows for healthy competition, collaborative effort, and a much clearer vision of one’s present progress!

2. The S.M.A.R.T way

S.M.A.R.T. goals are an acronym for goals that can be defined in the following aspects: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. These are all the enlisted qualities that any goal should have in order for it to be achieved. To start, teachers can first instruct students about the SMART goals, and how to use them along with some examples.

Writing on Board

Each student will have to write their one most important goal on a paper and collect it all in a box. Now, call one student at a time randomly and ask to pick one chit. According to the goal mentioned on it, the students have to make a plan by using these five aspects. 

For fun, this can be done in the way of sticky note tags on a class board, with every student assigned to their specific column. Also, teachers can provide smart goal worksheets to students for a more systematic way to carry out the activity. This way, one can not only have a crystal clear vision of what they want to achieve, but also an automatically laid out plan to achieve the same. What’s well begun is half done!

3. Goals as Spelling bees

Are you one of those people who number, categorize, annotate, and divide all their notes? Well, even if you aren’t, you’ve got to admit it’s as fun as it is elaborate. But don’t worry, you don’t need sticky notes or highlighters for this one. It’s a verbal practice!  

Thinking of goals

The class can be divided into groups and given the same letter of the alphabet, out of which they’ll be asked to form and annotate as many useful and insightful goals according to their designated curriculum, as per the alphabetical order. In the end, no matter who wins or loses, you still have double the pool of ideas and an even greater collaborative space than before. It’s a win-win situation! 

4. Drawing interest maps 

At a time when you are surrounded by an endless number of opportunities, possibilities, and preferences. Such a time calls for a mind map, or in the case of setting your goals, an interest map. This can be done in the following way. 

Creating mind maps

Make a rough list of everything that you are interested in, your hobbies, the extracurricular activities you enjoy, the subjects you feel most interested in, the jobs or career fields you feel you could perhaps fit in, anything that draws you towards itself, and everything you feel passionate about. Once you do, sit with them for some time. 

The simplest thing would be beginning with a flow chart under your name, writing all those hobbies and interests in one line. Then, connect each of those hobbies and interests with one or more subjects or extracurricular activities they can be associated with. Finally, in the third line, connect them further with the jobs, positions, and careers that seem fit for those categories, and voila! You just created an interest map. 

5. Make a real bucket list 

Yes, by a real bucket, we mean a real bucket. Don’t get us wrong, you can make it with paper or a hardboard too. By making a paper or a cardboard bucket, you can fill it up by writing your goals on different colored paper chits. The physical presence of an actually fillable bucket and not just metaphorically can help one look forward to goal setting even more.  

Seeing your bucket fill slowly with goals and aspirations not only becomes a great source of motivation but also a constant boost of self-esteem, confidence, and purpose. It’ll not just be fulfilling to see yourself check one goal off the bucket every time you complete it, but also how your progress moves up the graph steadily. 

For example, you plan on learning any vocational language, or a new musical instrument. You can write those on different chits, and once you do achieve them in the future, you can pull them out of the bucket and color them with a different color as an indicator of completion. And yes, you can also make two, one for your short-term goals and the other for your long-term goals!

6. Introspective journaling 

Do you know how journaling[2] helps one process their personal issues and crises effectively? Guess what, it does the same for your academic and professional goals too! Introspection, as an intensive process, works towards the betterment of one’s own understanding of oneself. By using such strategies, individuals actively alter their behavior in an attempt to improve their personal perspectives, mood, and daily functioning.


It gives you a clear understanding of where you are presently and where you see yourself in the next week, month, year, or even five years. Along with that, it gives you something to look forward to, something to work towards constantly, a purpose that feels in alignment with where your interests lie. 

For example, if a student aims at improving their concentration, they may begin timing their study sessions. While journaling, they may begin by writing why they feel it is difficult to sit for longer hours and continue with what they think might help with it. Writing about goals and action plans is also a great option for journal topics. After some time, they can reflect back towards what worked for them, and new techniques they discovered that can add more to the ongoing progress. 

7. Prompt narration 

There’s nothing more important than self-evaluation and criticism, except for one thing: self-appreciation. In a class setting, it is natural and even good for healthy competition to exist. But in the age of high schoolers, there are more insecurities and self-doubts than one can imagine. This is why it is important for one to reflect back on their own achievements, as small or as big as they can get, and appreciate themselves for it.  


Such prompts can be given by the professors in class, parents or guardians at home, and even by friends sitting together in a peer group. For instance, “What are five things you did this week that you appreciate yourself for?”, “What are three things you couldn’t do last year but can do now?” , “How do you think you have become more accepting and kind to yourself in the past few months?”, “What are five new hobbies, activities, or interests you wish to explore in the next year?” and many more like these. Also, students can use these as writing prompts as well.

This gives the student not just a reflection of where they are, but also an appreciative picture of how far they’ve come, and that is a beautiful thing to feel! 

Significance of goal-setting activities 

Goal-setting activities and games can prove to be highly beneficial. A high school student can often be understood to be struggling with a blurry vision for the future. This often results in increased stress, low motivation levels, and even lower productivity. 

In such a case, an array of enjoyably laid out games and activities can help the students achieve a clear vision of their goals and targets, while also making them feel purposeful, motivated, and driven towards their ambitions. The benefits can vary through different aspects:

1. Physiological effects

When coming up with new ideas, and working your mind, there’s a rush of energy that desperately desires the right medium to be let out. Goal-setting games and activities are the best outlets that serve to let one’s physical energy be spent in a place that helps them feel more spirited and able. 

2. Psychological effects

Ideas are born in a space of inspiration. A normal academic routine, sometimes, may lack providing more room for exposure and visionary talent. Goal-setting games and activities can help one to exercise their tickling brain into forming a display of thoughts and insights.

3. Cognitive effects

Cognition is what governs our thinking and ideation. Goal-setting activities help students to improve their critical thinking skills, and dimensional perception and form highly creative approaches towards their desired goals and targets. 

4. Neurological effects

One’s neurological function and health largely depend on how stressed or relaxed one feels. Goal-setting activities help students to get a clearer idea and pathway towards their respective aims, and hence provide a calmer space to think and work. 

5. Social effects

One’s confidence and esteem does rely on the level and quality of social bonding. Goal-setting activities, by nature, are designed to be collaborative and interactive in nature, providing one with a safe and healthy space to create that social edge for themselves. 

In a nutshell

Goal-setting games and activities are highly contributive and resourceful, not only for every student to comprehend their future aspirations, but also for the institution to be supportive of a child’s curiosity and hunger for knowledge. Being bound by parental and societal expectations, a child’s capacity for intrigue gets suppressed. 

As a space made for growth and learning, it is imperative for those creative explorations to bloom right there. Such activities, no matter how small they may seem, hold the power to leave a major impact on the development of young minds, leading them where they can believe that the world is their oyster. 


  1. Sides, J. D., & Cuevas, J. A. (2020). Effect of Goal Setting for Motivation, Self-Efficacy, and Performance in Elementary Mathematics. International Journal of Instruction, 13(4), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.29333/iji.2020.1341a 
  2. Fritson, K. K. (2008b). Impact of Journaling on Students’ Self-Efficacy and Locus of Control. InSight : A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 3, 75–83. https://doi.org/10.46504/03200809fr

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