Extreme Goal Makeover

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Of course you want this school year to be A+ and awesome. But it won’t happen unless you make it happen! To prove that achieving your goals is totally doable, we’ve taken three teens with three very different dreams and paired them with coaches who fine-tuned their objectives and action plans. The result in each case: a new path to success that seems clear, not overwhelming! So steal their secrets—then “goal” for it.

I want to be an Olympic swimmer.”

—Sara Henry, 13 years old, Newport Beach, CA

Goal guru: Alissa Finerman, life coach and author of Living in Your Top 1%

Sara’s Backstory

A naturally competitive high school freshman, Sara has always worked hard. But now she’s at a crossroads and will really have to focus if she wants to become an Olympic-level swimmer.

The Goal Guru Says . . .

Specialize. To get serious, Sara has to choose one or two strokes and devote her time and effort to those.

Get stronger. With the help of her trainer, Sara will design a one-hour strength-training regimen tailored to these strokes. She’ll do it two times a week.

Fuel up. Sara already tries to eat well and get enough sleep, but she’ll do this more consistently and be specific: 8-9 hours of rest and lots of lean protein and carbs at every meal.

Build a winning mind set. Missy Franklin is Sara’s favorite Olympian of all time; she reminds Sara that anything is possible. So Sara will find photographs of Missy winning the gold and put them up in her locker and bedroom, to help her visualize success.

Goal Posts

By November: Shave down her times. For example, swim 50-yard freestyle in 27.70 instead of 28:17.

By Winter Break: Qualify for Invitationals

By the end of the year: Qualify for Nationals

Sara’s Post-Makeover Goal

Qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials in freestyle and backstroke.


I want to be an academic star.”

—Harrison Carter, 16 years old, Southampton, NY

Goal guru: Ben Bernstein, Ph.D., author of Test Success!

Harrison’s Backstory

Harrison is a busy high school senior—he plays varsity tennis, squash, and guitar. But Harrison’s making academics his top priority. Math is proving a problem spot, though—especially the tests, where Harrison’s grades are inconsistent. He’s got the will. Now he just needs the strategy.

The Goal Guru Says . . .

Take stock. Harrison will start reviewing his math notes every day to identify the concepts he understands and the things that he may need more help with.

Master the material (with help). Whether it’s with a friend, teacher, or private tutor, Harrison’s going to set up a weekly check-in with someone to work on those concepts he doesn’t fully grasp.

Start studying earlier. As soon as the test is announced, Harrison’s going to make a study plan, tackling the hardest stuff first.

Slow down. About 10-15 percent of his mistakes on math tests are simple computation errors, so Harrison is going to slow down while he takes the test, stay calm, and double-check his work.

Do a postmortem. Reviewing what he got right and wrong on the test (and why) will help Harrison figure out what areas he still needs to work on.

Goal Posts

By November: B+ on midterms

By Winter Break: A– on math final

By the end of the year: A’s in math on report card

Harrison’s Post-Makeover Goal

Pull my B’s up to A’s on math tests.


I want to have tons of friends.”

—Morgan Ogle, 17 years old, Gatlinburg, TN

Goal guru: Nina Collins, Life Coach

Morgan’s Backstory

Morgan met her BFF in third grade. They still love hanging out, but Morgan would also like to meet new people, which can be a challenge in her small town.

The Goal Guru Says . . .

Be a joiner. Morgan is passionate about helping the sick, so she’s going to volunteer at her local hospital. That way, she’ll meet other teens who care about the same things.

Bond with a classmate. Don’t feel self-conscious about making small talk. Think about it—everyone’s grateful for the person who talks first!

Keep a journal. Staying accountable is important. So Morgan is going to track her progress, writing down her friendship milestones and successes.

Goal Posts

By November: Exchange e-mails/texts with a potential new friend

By Winter Break: Have an outing with a new friend

By the end of the year: Add the new friend to the list for her graduation celebration

Morgan’s Post-Makeover Goal

Meet one to three new friends and get a fresh perspective on existing friends.

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