Set Your New Year’s Focus

Goal setting with children

The possibilities are endless when you focus!

Don’t try to psyche yourself into anything. Just write out three specific goals, review them every day, and make them happen. Even tiny steps will get you there.

I’m not saying don’t set a big goal, but I am saying I want you to have a guaranteed success. If you want to lose 50 pounds, how about setting your goal for 5lbs then coming back next month to set the goal for 5 more. If you want to make a quilt for your daughter’s bed, how about starting out with the goal of three squares then coming back next week with the goal for three more.

Don’t convince yourself that this is your goal setting for the entire year. New Year is just a good opportunity to check in and see where you’ve been and where you are going. This is just a milestone.


Basic Goal Setting with Children

I’ve been trying to teach my children how to make things happen for themselves, how to get past lists of wishes to lists of intentions to plans and to-do lists. An hour before midnight last night, we stopped their wild idea of what celebration should be to review the past year and talk about our new year.

You may know that I love sticky notes, so I will admit that there were a lot of sticky notes involved in multiple colors. You can see the results of our goals check in above.

How was this year? We started with one giant post-it note, but just a section of wall will do. Each of us chose a different color of notes then we wrote significant events for ourselves, our family, and the world on our notes and stuck them on the old year. A few had frowny faces, but most of our events were good. I was pleased to see that my children came up with “Had fun this year” and “I felt happy.”

How will this coming year be? I asked them to look at the things they did or things that happened in the past year and picture what they want to write in a year’s time. What do they want to do this year? We started a new giant post-it note, and we kept writing out ideas until they became silly (“Get abs” for my son).

What will you do? I told them that wasn’t the end because “Become a better musician” and “Learn to drive” weren’t specific enough. We each turned three of our wishes into goals on a final giant post-it note. We put the wishes along the left-hand side then asked what steps we can take to make them happen. “Become a better musician” becomes “Call my cousin about piano tuning” and “Go to the library for piano music books.” And, “Learn to drive” (yes, very scary) becomes “Go to DMV for driver’s handbook” and “Look up dates for drivers’ ed class registration.” After we came up with 3-4 steps that we could take for each goal, we added columns for “Next” and “Done.” We moved one note into the next column for each of our goals. My son wanted to move several notes into the next column, but I told him that only one step could be next. That seemed to help him understand what “Next” really means.

They were excited to get back to celebrations, but they told me that when they wake up today they plan to get to work on their goals and move notes into the done column.

Setting goals and checking in on progress can be easy. I want my children to understand how to move from vague ideas toward specific plans they control. Our 30 minutes with sticky notes was a good lesson. Now, the rest is in their hands.

Happy New Year! I hope you get everything you wish for, plan for, and work for.

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