How to Reduce Stress Part 6: Set and Reach YOUR Goals

Stephen Covey calls it, “Begin With The End In Mind”.   We are going to call it, Know and Like Where You Are Headed.  One of the largest contributors to confidence and feeling good about yourself,  is feeling like you are in control of your destiny.  Much of the anger and stress felt by both teens and adults is the lack of direction and commitment to an end result.  Unfortunately we get so busy with the day to day that we can forget to take a few moments on a regular basis to think about where we are headed.  So we we may be going full steam – but on a path that is not ultimately where we really wanted to be. That results in STRESS! 

You will want to ask yourself some questions so you can establish what it is that you truly want to work towards.  Take your time with this, and don’t be surprised that when you review your goals as time goes on, that you refine them.


  • What is it that you really love doing?
  • What makes you get up in the morning, excited and ready to get the day started?
  • Who are your heroes in life and what is their influence on you?
  • If you could do anything in the world, with money not being an object, what would it be?
  • What steps will I need to take to get there?  What can I do right now?


Goal setting and creating a step by step plan to reach your goals is a huge subject that you can investigate and we will write about in the future, but just know that research has shown that those who define their goals are more successful than those who just dream.  In fact one study done with Harvard graduates showed that those that wrote their goals down were 3 times better off than those who did not.


This process is not just for the career paths and big decisions.  Even the smaller everyday stuff that needs to get done can be set out as short term goals and will help you get the important things done – reducing stress in your life.  One more thought on this process, do not forget to be willing to ask for help or to get a coach or mentor to help you sort through your thoughts.  We do not have to do this by ourselves.  If we need some unbiased help, ask someone who is already doing what you think you would like to be able to do for guidance on how they got there.

How to Reduce Stress Part 5: Building a Support System

Have you ever felt a little down on yourself and really not sure who you can talk to?  Or maybe you have the feeling that this is a problem you should be able to handle on your own.  Sometimes we are not even really sure that there is anyone that would really understand.  When we are feeling like that – we may get very anxious and stressed out about what to do. 

Our support system, safety net, those around us that are there for us no matter what is an important part of being able to handle those stressful moments in our life.  However they do not just show up when we need them, we must develop them long before we need to rely on them for support.  Stephen Covey and his son Sean who wrote the books on habits of successful people and teens, both talk about building relationships.  Building relationships is our safety net.  It is those people that will be there for us when times are tough.  Here are a couple of simple points about building that support system:


1. Spend time together – your experiences will bring you closer
2.   Be honest / being trustworthy raises the quality of your friendships
3.   Be loyal / take an interest in things that are important to others
4.   Be a good listener / Don’t be bossy or pressure others
5.   Be willing to apologize and not always the center of all attention
6.   Be clear about your expectations and offer to be there for others


Identify those in your life that you feel like you would count on and be willing to talk to them honestly.  If you are not sure who they might be, or you do not believe you have someone in your life that fits that description, pick one important relationship in your life and work on building it into one that you are confident you can rely on.   If we have damaged those relationships in the past, it may take some time to rebuild them, but little by little we can do so.

How to Reduce Stress Part 4: Being Assertive

It may seem that being assertive has little to do with how stressed we may be feeling, but in fact if we are feeling out of control or not having enough input in decisions being made about our life, we can become very stressed about those situations.  This could be happening with friend, teachers, family or at work.

Now every age group is going to have different levels of responsibility or even ability to make choices for themselves.  But if you are a teen or older, standing up for yourself in positive ways and expressing your feelings, needs and opinions is very freeing for your soul.  Being assertive about expressing yourself is a right that you have, but also one that comes with the responsibility to understand the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.

When difficult situations come up are you willing to speak up?  You may ask yourself if you are being embarrassed, bullied, lied to, or having a conflict, will you share your thoughts and feelings honestly with the other person or group?  Do you know how to do so effectively and without coming off as aggressive?

Engaging others when you are calm, explaining your feelings and specific behaviors that are effecting you and how you feel is the beginning steps.  The use of “I” messages along with how you would like to resolve the issue is a good way of beginning the conversation, along with asking for their willingness to change their behavior or help come up with another solution.

Holding your feelings and thoughts in for a long period of time, can only build the pressure on yourself and make you feel like you will burst. Finding a way to discuss the issues at hand in a calm manner will make you feel better about yourself and the situation and reduce the stress that you are feeling.

Life Skills: Integrity – Start With Goals and Mission Statement

Teaching character and life skills to students

If someone were to ask you what your personal goals are would you be able to tell them?  Even more than that, have you written your goals down so that you can review them regularly?  Doing so will have an impact on your ability to stay true to yourself, your values, morals and ethics.

We all know that a goal is only a goal if you have written it down and hopefully told others that you are working to accomplish your goals.  Otherwise it is just a dream, something in your head that you think about from time to time.  But when you write it down, carry it with you, read and think about it in the morning when you start the day and reflect on them at the end of the day –  then they are real goals.

If you know your goal is to have a certain GPA, to be on a particular sports team, to reach certain education level, it will be much easier to resist negative peer pressure and keep your eye on your study habits and physical habits of eating and exercise.  Steven Covey called it “begin with the end in mind”.

Take the time to write down your long term goals, and take it one step further and write out a mission statement for yourself.  A mission statement is simply a bit of writing stating the values you want to live by, what you believe in and your goals for living your life.  Here is one link I found that will give you some steps to writing your own personal mission statement.  

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement

Your writing of goals and a mission statement does not have to be long or real wordy.  It can be as long or short as you feel like making it.  It may change as you grow and that is OK, just be sure it reflects who you are in your quest to live your life with integrity.

Life Skills: Integrity – Be Prepared to Make Good Decisions

Teaching character and life skills to students

If we are going to stand up to our friends, that is resist peer pressure to do things that are against our own morals, values and ethics, we must be prepared.  This type of preparation is no different than being prepared for a physical attack on ourselves.  As a martial arts student and practitioner we know what we would do if someone were to try to push us, or if someone called us a name, we know how we would react – because we have practiced those things.

The same is true with peer pressure.  We must prepare to defend who we are and what we stand for, so if we are asked to do something we are not comfortable with, we will have the strength to say NO.

So what would you do if you were put in a high pressure situation?  Preparing ahead, knowing what we would say and practicing that answer is part of the key to having the courage to actually do it when that time comes – and it will come.  What type of questions should you be prepared for?

What would you do if you were pressured to cheat or lie for one of your friends?
What would you do if you were being pressured to smoke, drink, or take drugs?
What would you do if your friends were bullying someone in your class or school?
What would you do if someone asked you to text you a picture of yourself?

Knowing the answer ahead of time, practicing it in your head, discussing it with your parents are all ways of being prepared to keep your integrity to yourself.

Life Skills: Integrity To Our Personal Values

Teaching character and life skills to students

Being true ourselves is part of having integrity.  When we think about integrity we also think about honesty.  In fact if a person is honest they are spoken of as having integrity.  We can count on them to be true to their word and we have a trust factor that is very high.

Just as important as honesty with others is, so is honesty with ourselves.  Are we honest about who we are, what we like, how we act both with others and with ourselves?  Are we honest to our values, morals and ethics?  Especially in the tween and teen years we are very worried about fitting in and having friends.  In times like that we may be afraid that others may not like us or laugh at us if we do not like, act, dress, talk the same way that they do.  Yet being ourselves is part of feeling good about yourself.  Lets look at an example.

Lets say you are in school and your group of ‘friends’ start talking about someone else not in the group. They may be a new person at the school.  They decide that it would be ‘funny’ to play a prank on them or to say something mean to them, and you are chosen in some manner to be the one that plays the prank.  Now you may not feel comfortable to do that, in fact it goes against everything you are as a person, but you are feeling the pressure of the group.  What will you do?

Here is a what Professor Dumbledore told Harry Potter:

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

Being willing to stand up for what you believe in and who you are, takes courage and is what integrity to yourself is all about.