I love the Napoleon Hill quote, “A goal is a dream with a deadline,” we can dream, but we need to quantify it to help us achieve it.
Teaching and modeling goal setting to kids is setting them up to strive in life, it’s putting action behind the words: “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Teaching kids how to set goals and map out mini-goals along the path is giving them the tools to really be anything they want to be.
Effective goal setting includes writing it down. Good, old-fashioned pen and paper! You can have your kids illustrate the goal or cut out magazine pictures and make a collage around their written goal. Hang it somewhere prominent, above their bed, beside the bathroom mirror, somewhere they can see it during daily tasks (like teeth brushing, hopefully!)
The goal needs to be specific and quantifiable. For example, we could guide a child whose goal is “to be a better reader” to create a goal like, “I will be a better reader and will move to the next reading level by January 31, 2013.” That is a measurable and achievable target.
Now help them plan steps they can take daily and weekly to work toward the bigger goal. If a child’s written goal was to “get straight A’s on my next quarter report card” the daily and weekly action steps could include doing homework everyday, handing assignments in on time and studying notes each night. It’s the daily work that builds toward positive life habits and deliberately drives us toward our bigger vision.
As we welcomed in 2013, I’d been thinking about how to do better about teaching goal setting to our kids so I created a simple form (I’m a form nerd!). Mother’s Circle Goal Form At the dinner table, we talked about each kid’s goal for the month and helped each other formulate the daily steps. The kids really jumped on board, I hope we can stick to it and do this every month. I think the “debriefing” and discussions at the end of the month about the process of aiming for a goal will be equally (or more) valuable than the goal itself.
Even if a goal isn’t achieved on time or completely, by doing this exercise, by setting intentions and being accountable even just within your family, your kids (and you) will be closer to accomplishing that goal than they would’ve been without having put the energy and focus on it!
Honestly, falling short teaches many life lessons in itself. Working through feelings like regret, disappointment and set backs in a loving, nurturing setting can help kids to manage those emotions as they grow up and can also serve to be a motivator.
Goal setting is a life skill, a self improvement tool, a means of self reflection and self discipline. There is so much kids are learning on the way toward their goals that getting there is only part of the victory!
Quotes on Goals:
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
― Karen Lamb
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
― Bruce Lee
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
― Michelangelo Buonarroti
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym
“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success.”
― Henry David Thoreau
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
― C.S. Lewis
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
― Louisa May Alcott
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”
― Coco Chanel