6 Teen Motivation Tips When You Have Big Goals

Teen motivation is something that comes up often in the work I do, because I am often supporting teen clients with goal planning.

While it’s easy to chalk up lack of motivation to laziness, there’s much more to it.

When you are feeling unmotivated, a good place to start is exploring why you are feeling that way.

For example, your attendance may have gone down because you’re feeling unmotivated to attend school when there’s other factors contributing to this. Once we have identified the root of “lack of motivation”, it’s time to work towards some solutions, which is more fun than it sounds!

After being in school myself for several years, I’ve had lots of opportunities to develop my own strategies. I have included some of these for you below!

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #1: Develop Small and Clearly Defined Goals

Accomplishing goals feels much more manageable when they are broken down into smaller ones. 

Personal Tip: Make note of the goals in a way that works best for you. As much as I love finding a new day planner or agenda, the convenience of creating a to do list on my phone works best for me. My phone is always close by if I need to add to or check something off my list. 

Teen Motivation Goal Tip #2: Get Organized

With a busy schedule, it can be easy to forget even the most important things. Add any important due dates to your paper or online calendar, so you do not forget.
Personal Tip: When I have an assignment due, I add “alerts” into my calendar app. To really be sure I don’t forget, I’ll add 2 alerts including a day before the assignment is due, so I can start if I have not already. The second alert to reminds me to submit the assignment, so it is not late.


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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #3: Set The Environment

Create a space that encourages you to accomplish your goals. You can look around the house for things to add to or repurpose for your space. This is one of my favourite ways to get motivated because it allows me to get creative and personalize my environment!

Personal Tip: If I have a big assignment, I make sure my surroundings aren’t cluttered before I start because it can be incredibly distracting for me. It also checks something else off my life – chores ☺

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #4: Lean on Others 

Keep others informed of any big goals you have or ones you find particularly challenging. Support systems are there for that reason!
Let the people in your support circle know what support looks like for you. This can ensure that support comes in the way that’s most helpful for you. This could be asking a parent to provide gentle reminders or completing goals with friends who are working on similar things.

It is okay to need outside support as well – sometimes your immediate circle may not be quite the right people for the motivation you need. I am offering 1:1 support specifically for teens, at a lower rate. You can book an appointment with me HERE.

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #5: Reward and Recharge!

It feels good to check things off your list, but life is all about balance. Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit when you’ve accomplished your goals, no matter how small.

Remember that you need to consistently integrate activities into your life that recharge your internal batter. 

Personal Tip: What recharges your battery is personal to you, but a personal favorite of mine is listening to my favorite songs, especially 90s/2000s pop ☺ 

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Teen Motivation Goal Tip #6: Revisit Your Goals

Life can get really busy and sometimes it can cause you to forget your goals or why they’re important to you. Revisiting your WHY behind your goals can kickstart your motivation. It also serves as an opportunity to try out new strategies if you find that others aren’t working anymore. 

Personal Tip: Ask a friend what works for them! 

You aren’t alone in your struggles! One of the biggest sources of motivation buzzkill I’ve come across with teens I work with, especially when it comes to school, is falling behind. When homework and extracurricular activities pile up and get overwhelming to manage, your stress levels rise. This is when avoidance kicks in and it becomes easier to not do anything at all because it seems impossible to know where to start.

Following the tips above can help you not get to this point… If you do get there, though, these tips will allow you to let the people around you know how you feel! The weight of expectations can feel much lighter when there’s others to help you carry it.

Getting an outside perspective can often be helpful when you feel like you’re drowning in your struggles to keep motivated. Therapy is one source of support that can guide you to your own strategies, and provide some of that outside perspective. You can book me in here:


Before I let you go, I also encourage you to check out The Happiness Pill Program – this is a 4-month program designed to support you AND your parents to keep you moving towards the life you want for yourself, full of motivation and joy. Take a look here:

The Happiness Pill Program


Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories. 

 When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island. 

 Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!

Building Teen Grit & Motivation

Our team here Pyramid Psychology has noticed an increase in the teens and parents we work with struggling with Teen Grit & Motivation – so we are covering it on our socials, blogs, and live videos for all of January!

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There is a lot of overlap between teen grit and motivation, with both concepts referring to a complex process that starts and maintains goal-oriented actions. Despite the similarities, there are noteworthy differences: 

Motivation can come from internal or external sources, be directed at small or large goals. It is also more likely to fluctuate. 

Gritrefers to the perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals. In this context, passion does not necessarily mean being swept up in strong emotions but rather knowing what is meaningful to you – the spark that provides a sense of purpose.

Think of motivation as the daily weather, and grit is the climate.

Daily motivation is something you can handle on the spot, with the various tools and resources out there,  including our blog article: 5 Ways to Increase Teen Motivation https://pyramidpsychology.com/teen-motivation-5-ways-to-increase-teen-motivation/ .

To ensure the overall is going well, regular check-ins and support from external sources can be really helpful for your teen – therapy is one way to get this support. You can meet our team, and book a free 20-minute consultation HERE.

Angela Duckworth is a leading psychologist in grit, and defines it in the following quote:

“Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. 

One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. 

Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something. 

Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an “ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. 

Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter at least as much, if not more.” 

In other words, grit takes your teen’s values into consideration – what matters so much to them in this life that they are willing to stick to it even when things get tough? What is it that gives them a sense of purpose and meaning?

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(Values can be hard to identify. If you would like to know more check out this values list (List of Values – Steve Pavlina) or consider booking a session with one of the Psychologists on our team HERE.

Because grit is based on your teen’s values, it is less swayed by factors like feelings or setbacks. Instead, it is an ongoing process of choices to make moves (no matter how small!) toward the life they want to live.

Grit is a complex, long-term process that is made up of countless small decisions.

While some teens may be naturally “grittier”, grit is a quality that can also be cultivated.

Here are some questions your teen can ask themselves, if grit is something they want to cultivate more of in their life:

Cultivating Teen Grit: What do they want the most for their life?

Have your teen take some time to be intentional and reflect on this question, whether that be through journaling, meditation, discussion, or paying attention to their own thoughts. You can join them, too!

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Cultivating Teen Grit: What is a small, next step that you can take to reach your long-term goal or end state?

It can be easy to get lost in questions of where to start or how to achieve a large goal – think of ONE small thing you can do today, instead of looking at your whole to-do list.

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Cultivating Teen Grit: What is your inner voice telling you?

Is it a helpful, hopeful voice, or a negative, judgmental one? If you’re struggling with your thoughts, our blog on Thought Distortions HERE has some helpful ways to re-energize your thinking.

Cultivating Teen Grit: How do you view failure?

A quote by Denis Waitley says:

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

One last thing I’ll share is a question for YOU to ponder as a parent – “what can I do to model motivation for my teen?”

Lack of motivation, if it goes on too long, can often express itself as anxiety or depression. With our FREE Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls, you will receive 10 tools you can begin implementing TODAY to support your teen through this. Download your free copy here:

Tool Kit

I am always a call away as an external resource for your teen – gaining a new perspective with someone on the outside can go a long way to building a life of grit and success for your teen. You can book a free 20-minute consultation with me here:

Book a Free 20 Minute Consultation with Jessa

Email us with any questions, any time: info@pyramidpsychology.com





Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.