Goal Setting is Key Nurturing Hope

My Best Me has 7 core steps teachers use to nurture Hope in their students. For the next several weeks, we are doing a blog series about each step in detail, why it is important, and how it changes students’ lives.

In our recent blog, Why Our Definition of Hope Changes Everything, we go over the first vital step of introducing Hope as a mindset. That is the first blog in the series, so if you haven’t read it yet, be sure to start there!

Now, we are going to focus on step two: Goal Setting.

What is Goal Setting?

After educators introduce Hope as a mindset, it is important to guide the student in identifying something they want to accomplish, establish a way to measure that goal and provide a timeframe to reach it. This is what we call Goal Setting.

Hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better than today, and that you have the power to make it so.

Dr. Chan Hellman, PhD

To know what ‘better’ looks like for the student, it is key to help them define what they want to accomplish by setting a goal. By having that specific goal, the student has a clear definition of what better looks like, which will assist them as they work to achieve it.

Power in Personally Relevant Goals

The most powerful part of our definition of Hope is that “you have the power to make tomorrow better than today.” This emphasis on being the key to making their tomorrow better provides agency for the student to improve their lives.

Because of this, teachers must guide the students in setting personally relevant goals. Our goals are not always the same as theirs. Their goals may be very different from other students. If the goals of others are pressed upon them, they will lose agency in their goal setting and have less Hope overall.

Students are empowered by pursuing what they want to accomplish. Simply focusing on what is personally relevant to them during the goal-setting phase has already shown to start increasing Hope and even more so once they reach their goal. My Best Me helps establish that what the student wants, their goals for a better tomorrow, has intrinsic value and therefore they have inherent value as a person.

Trauma-Informed Guidance

My Best Me is a trauma-informed curriculum. Trauma and high stress are prevalent in students, and My Best Me is here to help buffer that adversity. Because of Dr. Hellman’s research, we know that children who have experienced trauma struggle with long-term goal setting and tend to focus on avoidant-based goals rather than achievement-based goals.

My Best Me guides teachers in helping traumatized students succeed with short-term goal setting and provide guidance for how to understand students’ fears when they make avoidant goals.

For instance, students who use avoidant-based goals are often worried about performing poorly in front of others. Instead of achievement self-talk such as, “I want to pass this test, I want to do my best, I want to succeed,” their self-talk is far more negative. “I don’t want to fail, I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of others, I don’t want to look stupid.”

Without the proper training, this can be hard to navigate and identify in a student. My Best Me helps teachers know how to look for this and how to properly guide that student through goal setting to help them become more hopeful and think of themselves as successful.  

More in the Series…

You are reading Part #2 of a 7-Part Series on Nurturing Hope. To catch up, read our last blog, Why Our Definition of Hope Changes Everything. And when you ready for Step #3, be sure to check out Nurturing Hope Series: Establishing Pathways.


Hope Rising SEL’s definition of Hope is making a difference in many schools and communities across the country.

If your school isn’t using My Best Me yet, we would love to help you bring Hope to your school. Our sales team is ready to answer your questions and demo My Best Me for you. Contact us to start spreading Hope in your school.

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