I love setting goals for the new year and I want my children to also develop goal setting as a skill. Setting goals and writing them down leads people to be more successful at living the life they envision for themselves. And really isn’t that what we want for our kids (and ourselves)? To live the life we envision instead of just reacting to whatever comes our way?
Goal setting helps us to get through day to day life, too. Such as finishing that school project, preparing to test for our next taekwondo belt, cleaning our bedrooms, or making an art project.
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A Harvard Business study found that:
- 83% of the population does not have goals
- 14% have a plan in mind, but they do not write down their goals
- 3% of people have goals written down
The 14% who have goals are TEN TIMES more successful than those without goals. Makes sense, right? But, even better, the 3% who write their goals down are THREE TIMES more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals. So let’s write some goals down! You can download this printable we used at the bottom of this page.
Start Your Goal With a Wish
First, I encouraged my children to think of six things they wished for this coming year that they had control over. I shared some of my wishes with them, such as building a tiny house in the mountains and staying more organized this year. We can have some big, exciting goals and some not so glamorous ones, right?
I listed several categories on our wish sheet to help get them started: hobbies/interests, exercise/sports, saving money, a behavior you want to change, something new to learn, cooking/eating, friends, school work, and reading.
I emphasized that these were wishes that they thought of themselves, not what other people might want them to do. You can see below Little Fish only had two wishes. When I encouraged him to write more, he said that was all he wanted to work on. I actually think this is great to be really focused on just a couple things when goal setting. I could personally learn from him!
Turn the Wish into a Goal
After writing down our wishes, it was time in our goal setting process to pick up to three wishes to turn into goals. We went through three questions to help us decide which wishes would make appropriate goals:
1) Do you have the skills and knowledge to make this wish happen? The more skills and knowledge one already has, the more successful one will be at meeting the goal. If there are some skills or knowledge that need development, then that should be the first step to achieving the goal.
2) Can you finish this goal in one month? For children, one month is a good time frame for achieving a goal. If you think about it, how many adults even make it one month on their New Year’s Resolutions?? If the wish is not achievable in one month, can you break it down into smaller steps that are achievable one month at a time?
3) Can you achieve this goal without much help from others? Let’s face it, you have enough on your plate and if your child’s goal is contingent on a lot of time and effort from you, is it going to happen? I will let you decide that for yourself, but in my house that would be a big ‘no’! And really working toward these goals is about your children developing a sense of confidence and accomplishment so it is better for them to meet these goals with little help from others.
Once we answered these questions, it was time to turn our wishes into goals by filling in the “I will __________” statements. It is important to list specifically what you will do and when you will do it. For example, if your wish is to do a back handspring, your goal may be “I will practice a back handspring 3 times a week for 5 minutes.” By saying “practice” you have made your wish something you can control and the “3 times a week for 5 minutes” for one month, gives you your time frame.
Break the Goal into Steps
Our next task in goal setting was to break the goals down into steps. The first goal above ‘I will save $75 to buy a drone in the next 8 months’, obviously did not pass the “Can you finish this goal in one month?” test, but Little Fish is really committed so we will work on breaking that one down more.
His second goal, however, is definitely achievable in one month and was easy to break down. His goal is “I will learn to stop on the ice in January.” He means that instead of grabbing the wall to stop at the ice rink, he will do an actual snow plow or hockey stop.
He decided it would take him about 3 practice sessions to accomplish this goal so our first step is to make sure we go ice skating three times in January.
Then, I encouraged him to think about having someone review the technique with him even though he already has an idea of how to do these moves. So, we listed that dad will show us how to stop. Watching Youtube videos would be a good alternative here and is a great way to learn new skills.
Finally, Little Fish said he would need to practice each time we went to the rink.
List Resources Needed for Your Goal
Next, make sure you list what resources you might need to accomplish your goal. It may be things you already have that you need to be gather together or you may need to purchase items.
Resources can also include lessons or watching videos about how to do something new. We decided for our ice skating goal that Little Fish didn’t really need any resources as he already has skates and parents who are willing to take him skating!
Make It A Daily Routine
You may find to achieve your goal that you need to do a little something each day. If a child’s goal is to move along the monkey bars, then maybe they need to do 10 pushups a day to work toward that. Or if a child wants to read a certain amount of books each month, then they might want to set a goal to read a certain number of minutes each day.
The printable below contains a chart to track your child’s daily progress and then to note how they feel on Days 1, 5, 10, 20, and 30. It is amazing when you do something each day, how quickly change happens!
Post Your Goals
Once your goal sheet is finished, post it somewhere that everyone will see it regularly. For us, that would probably be in the kitchen or our homeschool classroom. You could also makes copies if you want to post it in more than one place.
Check in on the Goal
Check in weekly to see how your child is doing on meeting his or her goal and at the end of the month help them determine if they successful or not. If not, can they determine why? Then decide with your child if they would like to set new goals for the coming month.
Other Goal Setting Resources
While this post focused on helping your children set goals at the start of a new year, you may want to help your children set goals at the start of their school year, too. You could use the same underlying principles above. Or you may want to check out SMART goals, which are a popular way of goal setting for students.