One of the most powerful ways to positively influence your kids to make high-character choices is to surround them with visual representations of their goals. It’s not uncommon to set goals with your children at the beginning of the school year, but we rarely think about how usually take a break from goal and achievement talk in the summer. In reality, summer is a great time to help your kids learn the value of goal-setting. Carve out some time during the next weekend to collaborate with them, and clarify the goals and expectations you both have in between now and next summer vacation.
Here’s a question to get you started:
Imagine it is June 1, 2016 (or the final day of your academic year) and you’ve just finished the best school year of your life, what would have to happen for you to call it your “best year ever?”
Work With Them
It is up to you to coach them, age appropriately, through this creative process. Then have your child write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t filter them as they envision the upcoming nine months. After all, there will be plenty of others who will take on that role. Work with them, like a good coach, and settle on five to ten measurable initiatives for the year that you both can get excited about. Make sure there is a way to hold them accountable and share with them the importance of accountability. Any child above age six can grasp this concept, even though we all know a few at 36 who are still struggling with it.
Build A Goal Map Together
A Success or Goal Map is a large visual reminder of a goal or group of goals your child wants to accomplish. Depending on their age, they will need your help as well as a few supplies to get started. To create their goal map, attach pictures, photos, sketches, headlines or other visual stimulators of the goals they are pursuing to a poster, bulletin board, or presentation board. We worked on these recently with our kids and opted for the presentation boards which stand on their own and have two hinged sides that close across the center panel. You can easily find these online or at your local office supply store. On the board or poster, using several different colors of ink, have them print their goals in bold, block letters. Then paste or pin their pictures around the statement of each of their goals. Magazines, brochures, catalogs, clipart.com, and Google Images, are good sources to get you started.
Promote Your Kid’s Future… To Themselves!
Some goal maps I’ve seen are very neat and logically organized, while others are more like a collage. Ours turned out more like a collage but with three distinct sections. On the center portion of our Goal Map our boys put a symbol of their faith in God, along with their spiritual goal for the year. Organized, like a mind map, from the center they put an image that represented the accomplishment of their other goals. From football and friendships to grades, hiking, pushups and character, we included it all. There is no one right way to do this, although I believe putting God at the center is a must! On one of the outer, hinged panels each wrote a series of affirmations in different colors to keep their confidence in themselves at a peak. On the other hinged panel, they made their own unique list of daily habits that will move them toward their goals and keep mom happy as well.
A Little Investment, A Big Reward!
While my kids did most of the work and had a blast in the process, I probably put in 3 hours of my time, mainly with my youngest, to give them a little direction here and there. We are all much more motivated by images than we are by words. The pictures you create in your head turn into the reality you hold in your hand. This is especially true with your kids. I encourage you to make this little project a priority in your household. Remember, your children will move, day by day, in the direction of the images that occupy their minds. Why not invest the time to make sure that direction is intentional and premeditated? Consider that your kids must think about and know their goals before they get started on this exercise. Then they will be thinking about their goals the entire time they are constructing it. Finally, they will have a tangible end product that they can review, with or without you, each evening at bedtime and maybe again upon waking up.
Coaching your kids to create their Goal Map pays big dividends. Take action now. You’ll be very glad you did!