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This post appeared on Motherly Adventures, a parenting blog about life as an adventure.
If we are not careful about how we set our goals, we can lose our balance. I am your typical Type A personality who wants everything done right away. I have lots of ideas and get excited about them, but this also means I put unnecessary pressure on myself. Unfortunately, this can flare up my anxiety symptoms and make my head spin with a mile long To Do list.
Thinking about this aspect of myself makes me want to instill a very important lesson to our children about setting and working towards goals. I hope we can break the cycle and not pass along this pressure-cooker lifestyle to our children that so many of us are struggling with in our own lives.
Goals are meant to be inspiring and motivational, not the source of our stress. They are necessary for growth but we need to be smart about how we set them.
What Are SMART GOALS?
SMART goals are used by managers to help their employees set realistic, attainable goals. The author of Embark on the Journey blog translated this business language to make it useful to families. She created worksheets that you can easily download and work on with your children.
The acronym SMART represents goals that are:
Specific: The more specific we are, the more focused we can be in reaching a goal. When your children say they want to do better in school, ask questions to guide them in identifying a more detailed goal. For example, which subject would they like to do better in? What grade are they hoping to achieve?
Measurable: It is important that we help our children identify how they will know they reached their goal so it is clear what they are working towards. Is it an award, a grade, a project, or a skill they are looking to end up with in the end?
Achievable: Goals should be challenging within reason–not impossible. It is best to encourage our children to take one step at a time and not to make things too difficult for themselves. They will be happier if they reach a few easier goals than struggling to attain a really difficult one.
Relevant: Goals need to mean something to the children. They need to be excited and passionate about what they are working towards. If we set the goals for them, they will not gain anything from the experience and may possibly fail and be stressed over what we expect from them.
Timely: If we don’t identify when we hope to achieve a goal, we are unable to succeed. Ask your children to determine a realistic time frame for meeting the goal. Be sure to consider other obligations and interests when choosing the estimated finish line.
I would also like to add my own tip for setting goals: stay flexible. Goals are not meant to be written in stone. We should approach goals as fluid opportunities for personal growth. As we learn new techniques or fail at our first attempt, we can tweak our goals to better fit our needs over time.
Some days we just won’t be in the mood. Some days we have other priorities and responsibilities. And some days we will fail and need to rethink our path. The key to success is to allow ourselves to take a break, find a new perspective, and then come back and try again with a revised plan. Our children will thank us for teaching them this little trick in life so that they can learn to adapt more easily and persevere even when faced with unexpected surprises and challenges.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Let’s teach our children that tomorrow is another day where new opportunities lie ahead. We can always rewrite our goals and continue on the path to being the best person we can possibly be.
How do you most effectively approach goals and what lessons do you want to pass along to your kids?