Were you born knowing how to set goals? How did you learn? At home? Or was it a skill you acquired later in life? Skills we acquire early in life become tools that we later use with little effort. So, if you believe that goal-setting is an important skill, how do you go about sharing it with your children?
To be S.M.A.R.T. about goal-setting helps us remember all of the parts of an effective goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.
Specific: If “I’ll do better” was enough… well, we all know it’s not. A clearly worded goal is essential to success. “I will pack my backpack with completed homework, books and signed permissions and put it by the door before my T.V show without being reminded for three days in a row” or “Try two bites of a new food at least once per week.”
Measurable: How will you know you have succeeded? “Get a better grade in Science” is harder to assess than “Achieve a score of 75% or better on my next two labs.”
Achievable: Let’s go back to grades. “Getting an ‘A’ ” is not always completely within the students’ control: someone else actually gives the grades. However, an achievable goal in this area might be: “All of my papers will be submitted on time, free from spelling errors and meeting (or exceeding) the length and content assigned.” The difference? All parts of the goal are within the student’s control.
Realistic: Many of us can relate to ‘crash dieting’ as an example. As much as we might LIKE the idea of losing 10 pounds in five days we know that it doesn’t make any more sense than trying to raise a grade 50% in a week. Help your kids apply reasonable filters to their goals.
Timely: One of my favorite definitions of a goal is “a dream with a deadline.” The way that we introduce time depends on what we’re trying to achieve. Adding a deadline (“by December 31st…”) or a time period (“every day for a month”)helps turn dreams to reality, moving them from planning to action.
Does your family set goals together?