Recalibrating family life and setting goals

Tonight we are sitting down as a family over dinner and chatting about our individual and family goals for the year. With a 17-year-old socially active daughter starting University and working full-time at McDonald’s over the holidays, a 15-year-old son who spends more time outdoors than indoors, and a husband whose business is double that from last January, it can be a challenge finding time when we are all together.

Thus, I have set aside tonight for us to eat together, review life and set goals for this year.

But it begins with me taking stock of what I am doing with my life. I explore whether I am caught up in the daily grind of life and missing my calling as a person, as a mother, as a wife etc. Reflecting on the last year, reflecting on my goals and calling in life and planning the next twelve months are all included. I also spend time praying and preparing for my role as a home-schooling parent.

In Australia, having summer school holidays over January allows me to take stock. Sometimes this gets swallowed up in the Christmas and New Year flurry of activities. Over New Year, I had the privilege of ministering with my daughter on a Family Beach Mission Team – exhausting but exhilarating!

What about you?

Do you ever find that your diary dictates your daily life (or in my case, it seems to be my teenagers’ activities who require a chauffeur)? It can sometimes seem never-ending. And overwhelming.

Thus, I am trying to be more intentional in my parenting. I realise that it is me, not my kids, who is our family’s cultural architect. Thus, I need to keep the compass point pointing true north to where I would like our family to be.

Last January, we sat down and brainstormed goals individually and as a family. We listed our goals on individual whiteboards and accomplished at least half. Unfortunately, our family travel goal never materialised (thanks COVID) but achieving half our goals was still a great effort with COVID changing the landscape of schooling, daily life, etc.

Last January, we also formalising our family vision. Our vision casting time is separate to our yearly goals, but our goals come from our vision.

Some questions we looked at for our family vision time were:

  • How do you want our family to be remembered?
  • What reputation would you like our family to have?
  • What dreams do we have for our family?
  • What values do we want to live by and incorporate into every aspect of our life?
  • What are some habits we want our family to have?
  • What are some memory ‘stones’ we want to incorporate into our family?

Once we brainstormed and worked these out, it was a lot easier to set our annual goals.

As I am raising world changers, I need to teach my kids the skill to set achievable, measurable and specific goals. I also wish them to be inspirational and stretching.

We use the ‘SMART-IS’ acronym –

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time frame plus Inspirational and Stretching.

As their mum, I encourage and help them brainstorm their goals and then throughout the year, I gently ask them how they are going towards achieving these goals. Sometimes those goals need revising. Sometimes they need a lot of prayer for opportunities to open-up. My role is not to get in and ‘make it happen’ for them. Instead, my role is to pray for them and opportunities to step forward in these areas. When they have decisions to make that will affect their goals, we gently remind them to review their goals. We also share with them our goals and the achievement of them.

I fondly remember when my son was four, and my daughter was seven, and the three goals they each set for the year. Those goals from that year gave an excellent foundation for our children as teenagers. One of our daughter’s goals was around making more friends. Knowing her now and the wide consortium of friends she has, you would never know that that was a goal ten years ago.

With financial goals, Scott Pape’s book “The Barefoot Investor for Families” is a brilliant resource to work through with your children. In fact, not just for goals but in money management. A book I would highly recommend.

Part of our goal setting is also reflecting on the past year. With younger children, I encourage you to make up cards with a question on each card and encourage each family member to choose a card to read out and then everyone answer.

The Questions we are using are:

  • What did you most love about last year?
  • What was each person’s highlight for the year?
  • What did each person learn this last year?
  • What three words would describe this last year for each family member?
  • What was your biggest single time waster this last year?
  • What was the best way you used your time this last year?
  • What choices did you make last year that were not the wisest or you would like to change?
  • What do you wish you could change about your life for this coming year?
  • What do you want to stop?
  • If you had last year over again, what would you do differently?
  • How did I help change the world this last year?
  • What was the nicest thing someone else did for me this last year?
  • What is the nicest thing I did for someone else this last year?
  • What did I start but didn’t finish?
  • What felt difficult this time last year but now feels easy?
  • What was the most unexpected joy from this last year?
  • In what ways did you grow?
  • With whom were your most valued relationships?

Sample questions for younger children:

  • What was your favourite thing from last year?
  • What was the hardest thing last year?
  • What were the best books you read last year?
  • Who were the important people in your life last year?
  • What was the most important thing you learnt last year?
  • How do you want this year to be different?
  • What do you want to keep the same as last year?

We then look forward and use those answers to help determine our goals for this year.

Questions to help set goals for this year:

  • What have I learnt from last year that needs to change this year?
  • What are the most important things I need to incorporate into my diary this year?
  • If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I attempt this year?
  • What risks am I willing to take this year?
  • How would I like to impact my community and the world this year?
  • What is something I need God to help me with for it to come to fruition?

Friends, being able to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, inspirational, and stretching is a life skill that we need to be teaching our children how to do. But it doesn’t end there. We also need to help them in the daily, weekly and monthly grind of moving towards those goals in small steps.

Children have a predisposition to focus on themselves. As parents, we want to develop children who look beyond themselves and influence others. Children who are world changers.

How do you deal with goal setting with your children? I would love to hear your ideas, so please comment below.

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