HOW DID I GET INTO GOAL SETTING?
I am a big advocate of goal setting. I was super lucky early in life to work for a company that did SMART goal setting as part of my job training and ongoing development. Being given the ability to learn it for myself and teach it to my employees was a gift I wasn’t anticipating.
Once a year I sat down with each one of my 30 employees and went through their 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year goals in the categories of Health, career and personal. Being super honest, at first I kind of rolled my eyes a bit at the process. I’ll admit it. But I have a big heart and I love to see people do well. I saw how valuable and literally life changing it can be and I’ve used Goal setting ever since.
Let’s go back in time to when I was doing one particular goal setting session with a team lead on my staff. I don’t remember the specifics of her goals, but I remember the result. She came back to work the next day and resigned. That sounds bad but let me explain. By focusing, she realized she wanted to spend more time with her son and expand her family. She revised all of her goals and realized that working full time and developing her career within our company just was not in the plan.
Believe it or not, the company encouraged this type of development. The reasoning was that every employee should be better at something by the time they leave. They should be encouraged to take that next step in life. More confident and prepared. I’m so grateful that I had that experience and developed those skills.
BRINGING GOAL SETTING INTO OUR FAMILY LIFE
Fast forward 15 years. As with a lot of things in young motherhood, I had gotten away from goal setting. You go into survival mode for months or years at a time and then every once in awhile you get some extra energy or moments of clarity that you want to do better. Do more. That’s why I wanted to refocus on getting my kids to think about things that they want. So there we were. My hubby and I were sitting with our 3 year old and 8 year old (the 6 month old was long asleep) waiting for the midnight ball to drop on New Years. I decide to break out my first attempt at teaching the importance of setting goals to my kids. And sort of to my husband.
My oldest said that he had heard of New Years Revolutions. Ummmm adorable. I didn’t correct him. Everyone took their turn saying what they wanted to improve on. My husband said he wanted to stress less and try more new activities. Our oldest said he wanted to become a better hockey player. Our 3 year old said he wanted to watch more tv. Not a fan of that last one, but I also think he was just trying to fit in and yelled the first thing that came to mind.
I set three Goals. One personal, one career and one health:
- I said I wanted to walk 3 million steps this year. This I counted as personal because I usually walk with friends and it pushes me to set up more hangouts.
- I wanted to launch a blog. This meant having a live site with something to read on it.
- I wanted to lose 60lbs to which I am very careful to explain to the kids is for health reasons.
By the end of the year I had:
- I Walked 2, 769,900 steps. So close!
- Blog was not at this point launched. I had done a lot of online courses but was in full “paralysis by analysis” mode
- I lost 20lbs
Although I didn’t quite fully accomplish any of the goals I set, but this is all part of the process. Goal setting is meant to guide us and sometimes you don’t fully reach them and that’s ok. You can then reflect on what you could have done differently and what you can do moving forward to make those goals happen.
I ran the long game on this one. I wanted to fully demonstrate to my kids that I set these three goals in a SMART way. They are simple, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. I made these goals in a way that I could sit down with them in one year and I had either clearly reached the goal or I didn’t.
I could then talk to them about all the ways I could have worked a bit harder to get to them. Instead of watching an hour of TV at night I could have gone for a walk an extra 3 nights a week. My kids know how much I love my extra large steeped tea with two cream and two sugars from Tim Hortons. I get one every day. Maybe I could treat myself to 3 per week and be a bit healthier.
I also wanted to show them that their goals were amazing (except the tv one) but that they didn’t really have a way to measure them. My son is absolutely a better hockey player than he was last year but in what way? If he had said he wanted to be able skate backwards from one end of the rink to the other in under 10 seconds, or make a higher division team, or practice his stick handling 15 min/day at home after school he would know whether he had achieved his goal or not.
If my husband said he wanted to try one new activity with the kids per month and documented it, we would have a fun thing to look at one year later.
This year we sat down as a family again at New years. Its kind of becoming a fun tradition for us. The nice thing is though, you can start it at anytime. Our plan is that we made our goals. Now we will have a family night out every two months and check in to see how everyone is doing. We will celebrate and encourage each other to reach them. It helps teach the kids that sense of accountability and more importantly the appreciation of achieving something through hard work.
The parameters we used were:
For My husband and I: (SEE MY FULL GOALS BELOW)
- 3 Goals for Health
- 3 Goals for Career
- 3 Goals for Personal Life
For the Kids:
- 1 Goal for Health
- 1 Goal for Personal Life
My Goals for my health:
- Eat a salad for lunch 5 times/week
- Ride my spin bike 3 times/week minimum or avg 12/month
- Get minimum of 6 hours a sleep/night. I’m really bad about staying up late and getting 5 or less.
My Goals for my Career:
- Set aside 5 hours/week to work. No exceptions
- Set mini goals and stick to them. Not constantly revise them
- Meet with my mentor, co-motivator once every two months. (This is a really good friend that is also trying to start a different business and we use each other to keep motivated and chat about challenges we are facing)
My Goals for my personal Life:
- Cut my phone screen time in half. If you have an apple phone it logs your screen time and I will look at my averages and cut it in half
- Walk 3 million steps. I’m going to try it again and success this time!
- We will stick to our kid date night schedule. My hubby and I always have good intentions that we will take our two older ones out individually for little nights once a month. He goes with one and I go with the other and then on the following month we switch. The schedule is set with good intentions but things always seem to come up with activities, or sick little ones or a million other reasons and it falls by the wayside.
BRINGING GOAL SETTING TO YOUR FAMILY
The most important thing about teaching Goal Setting with kids is making it fun and consistent. Here are the steps I recommend to have success and implement this life long skill to your little munchkins
1. Introduce the idea of Goal Setting – Have the initial conversation. Introduce your kids to the concept of goal setting. Talk to them about why people do it. Why it can be very valuable. Give them example of ways that its helped you.
2. Demonstrate by setting a goal for yourself – Pick a goal that you work on over a month. Start small. I started with a year long goal and it was too big a time frame. By the time we were readdressing goal setting a year later I was starting all over again. A month or even two weeks is much more realistic with kids. Remember to show them it in the SMART method. For an example. I will have three TV free nights a week for the next two weeks.
- SIMPLE – There’s no question. Its very easy to understand
- MEASURABLE – Really easy to show the kids if I did it or not
- ATTAINABLE – I certainly hope I can go three nights a week with no TV
- REALISTIC – You bet its realistic. Seven nights maybe not. Three. yes
- TIMELY – I can achieve it in the time set. For this example the time is built right in but in another goal you may try and set something like I’m going to workout once this summer. Its not overly timely because you’re being vague and not pushing yourself.
3. Once they see how to goal set, ask them to pick one – I guarantee its not going to be a perfect SMART goal. It will probably be vague, super cute and the best thing you’ve heard all week. Either way, encourage them and celebrate whatever they come up with. Get them to share it with people for fun. Grandma, people at the grocery store, their teacher. Make it a BIG deal for fun. Try to guide them into setting something small. An example would be that they make their bed every day for a week.
4. Once they have set a goal, make sure they stick to it – Goals are pretty useless it you don’t do anything with them. Don’t nag them or force them. Just give them gentle reminders once or twice a day and acknowledge when they make steps towards it on their own. This is just a small first intro goal. You don’t want to make goal setting too much work or boring from the get go otherwise they will start to associate it as negative. Once the time frame of their first goal is up, have a discussion about how the goal went. Whether they accomplished it or not, there is lots to learn about what happened and how they can try again.
5. Have a Goal Setting Family night – Pick a night that you have no where else to be or focus on. Sit down together and take turns writing out your goals. Have older siblings help younger ones if they aren’t able to write yet. Do it in your own style. Get special snacks. Make posters and put them up. Play loud music and yell out a goal once someone has set one. Be silly and make a pretend list of goals for dad that poke fun. Make it a night that kids will look forward to in the future.
6. Make a Goal Check in and Celebration night out – Set a date that you can go out as a family and bring your goal lists. Try to do it every couple of months. It can be fun to see what people have accomplished. Each goal is going to have different time lengths so some may be finished and need celebrating! Others might need ongoing or revising. This has to be done in your family’s style as well. We like to tease each other excessively so we would probably poke a lot of fun at anyone falling behind. Either way it should be a night that the whole family looks forward to.
At this point you and your kids will be well on your way to making goal setting and achieving a part of your life. Just always remember to keep it fun and consistent. It truly is a part of my life that I am so grateful for. I won’t pretend that I do it all the time but I always come back to it. I’m so happy to pass it onto my kidlets.
Happy Goal Setting!