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Beyond school work: Teaching students to set goals beyond the classroom

Updated: May 7

I received this question from an executive function coach in the EF Coaching Academy...

I am not sure what to do with my client this week. We have done all your suggestions as her biggest issue was missing assignments and discussed different studying strategies. Her mom still wants me to meet with her this week.
Any ideas?

First, off, great work! You are crushing it! This is a great place to be with a student because now you can move from a place of catching up to a place of getting ahead.

This is an opportunity for your student to gain a greater sense of self-awareness around what motivates them (not just what they think will make their parents and teachers happy).

As an executive function coach, you're always looking for ways to enhance your students' learning experience and help them achieve their full potential. In this blog post, I will introduce you to some powerful strategies that can revolutionize your coaching approach and elevate your students' success beyond the classroom.

By implementing these techniques, you'll not only address your students' immediate academic needs but also foster their personal growth and development.

So, dive in and explore these innovative ideas, and embrace the opportunity to transform your coaching practice and empower your students to conquer their goals with newfound confidence. Give this process a try and witness the incredible impact it can have on your students' lives!

Teach students how to use the "12-week year" goal-setting system

I often teach students how to start using the "12-week year system" that I learned about from one of my podcast guests, Brian P. Moran. This system was explained in Brian's book, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months.

The system breaks down the traditional annual planning approach into shorter, more focused timeframes. Here's how to use the 12 Week Year system:

Step one: Identify ONE goal that is part of your three visions.

This is something that you don't necessarily need to know exactly how you would arrive at, but that you are motivated to work toward. If you are coaching a student on this you could ask the following questions:

  • If you could have exactly what you want, how would your life look different in three years?

  • What major accomplishments do you see in the next three years? Any graduations (high school, college, etc.)?

Step two: Break the three-year vision into SMART objectives and choose one of them to focus on first.

From that three-year vision goal, set a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objective you could achieve in the next 12 weeks (90 days).

Step three: Chunk that prioritized SMART objective into tasks for the week

Break that 12-week objective into daily tasks. These are the tasks that you need to complete to reach your 12-week objective. Ensure that each tactic is aligned with your 12-week objectives. Imagine these tasks as dominos that will sequentially move you closer to achieving your 12-week objective.

Step four: Calendar out those tasks and set alarms

Schedule those tasks into your calendar. Then, set alarms and reminders to work on those tasks.

Step five: Review the week and see how the plan went

Consistently track your progress by reviewing your weekly plan at the end of each week. Evaluate which tactics you've completed and which ones are left. Adjust your plan as needed to ensure you're on track to achieve your goals.


As an executive function coach, hold your student accountable for their goals. Regular check-ins can help keep them motivated and committed to their 12-week plan.

At the end of the 12 weeks, review overall performance. Assess what worked well, what didn't, and what your client can improve for the next 12-week cycle. Use this feedback to refine your goals and tactics for the next cycle.

Additionally, encourage your client to give themselves a short break between 12-week cycles to rest and recharge. This will help you maintain your motivation and energy for the next cycle.

Frequently asked questions when using the 12-week year process

What is the parking lot for?

The parking lot section is there because students with ADHD often want to set many goals or switch directions on what goals they are working on while they are working on the three.

By having the parking lot, you acknowledge their idea for a new goal, but return them to the BIG goal they set originally (aka the three-year vision). If a new goal comes up that is so urgent, then they can prioritize by taking one of their three big goals and putting it in the parking lot.


As an EF coach, unlocking your student's potential and helping them achieve their goals is paramount. But what if you could take your coaching skills to the next level? The EF Coaching Academy offers advanced training, insights, and tools to help you become an even more effective coach.

By joining our community of dedicated professionals, you'll gain access to the latest strategies and techniques, including goal-setting systems that will help students take increased ownership of their learning.

So why wait? Take the first step towards maximizing your impact as an EF coach and transforming the lives of your students. Visit the EF Coaching Academy website today and start your journey to becoming an exceptional executive function coach. Your students deserve the best, and so do you!

About the author

Sean G. McCormick is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization, and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization, and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.

He also founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains special education teachers, school psychologists, and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges.


Executive Functions, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, Executive Functions, Inc. will earn a commission.

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About 👋

EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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