Now that many of us are home wading through the process of helping our kids with school work and balancing our work, it is important to help our kids set and achieve goals. At work, setting goals is a normal thing to do (even if you don’t do it, the idea of goal setting at the workplace is normal). However setting goals with your family isn’t normal.
It may even seem like a strange thought to even consider. Why? If most people consider family being more important than work – why then aren’t parents even more purposeful about goal setting in their families?
Purposeful Goal Setting with Your Family
Jill and I receive strange / skeptical looks all the time when we share that we set written goals in our family every 90 days. For us, it helps us to get on the same page with the 3-7 most important topics for our family, faith, and our relationship that we need to focus on in the next 90 days. Once we are clear and on the same page with what’s most important for us, we meet with our children to help them set goals for the next 90 days.
Goal Setting for Children
We have 4 children – 2 boys and 2 girls, ages 9, 7, 4, and 1. All but our 1 year old are involved with setting goals! We help them to clarify what they want (with our guidance of course). We have a great conversation about what’s important in their lives over the next 90 days and have them set a goal. It’s important that the goals come as a result of a mutual conversation together, rather than just telling them what their goals should be. They have more buy in this way.
We capture everyone’s goals on a single sheet of paper and hang it on our kitchen closet. Every week before Monday night dinner, we spend a few minutes reading our goals aloud and state whether they are on track or off track. This serves as a great checkpoint on each of our goals and provides great conversation to help each other out along the way. When the 90 days is up, we meet back together, look back at what we learned from this round of goal setting, and then we reset each of our goals for the next 90 days.
Why Goal Setting Is Important
If you aren’t setting goals, then by default you’re always measuring progress looking forward toward your “ideal”. Most will be disheartened by how far you have left to go. Ultimately, the ideal is a constantly moving target and not achievable anyway. When you set goals in writing and measure progress by looking backwards to your starting point to now, you’ll be able to clearly see all the growth and improvements you made along the way.
Here Are 3 Benefits of Setting Written Goals with Your Family:
For each member of your family to state what’s most important and then go out and achieve it provides them a sense of empowerment. You’ll have rich conversations at least once a week with your family about how everyone is progressing.
You will see achievements more clearly as you meet weekly to discuss your progress. Past progress that may have seemed disappointing to you (when you were measuring forward toward your ideal instead of measuring your progress looking back) is now transformed so you can see your achievements more clearly. Even small progress towards the greater goal can provide incentive towards reaching the next level.
3. Increased Confidence / Optimism
As you begin meeting these smaller goals, you will see your progress and know you can do it again. Whereas, if you set no goal, you would lack the weekly data of having met the smaller goals along the way. Success in the smaller goals leads to confidence in obtaining success in bigger goals.
Actually getting this to work with children may seem daunting. Here are some examples of how it works in my family.
Examples of past 90 day goals in our family
7 & 9 Year Old
- Put away own laundry (closet & drawers)
- “A” or “Excellent” in Spelling
- Look in Eye: please, thank you, excuse me & introductions without prompting
- ½ hour school work 5 days per week (this was a summer goal)
- Drink at least 2 water bottles each day
- Sing at least one song each and every day
4 year Old
- Half of the Alphabet letter identification
- Looking adults in the eye when they are speaking or when speaking to an adult
- Dressing self
- Introducing yourself first: “My name is _______, what's your name?”
- Saying the Lord’s prayer on your own
If family is important to you and your spouse, then plan the time in your calendar to have a meaningful conversation with one another, and with your kids to determine what is most important for each of you over the next 90 days. Review them each week, together as a family. At the end of the 90 days, measure your progress by looking backwards over the past 90 days and ask 2 questions “What worked?” and “What didn’t work?”. Regardless of whether the goals were achieved or not, I guarantee you will learn from the experience and will have more meaningful conversations together as a family.