Setting goals as a family can be the difference between having a good family and enjoying a GREAT family. Teaching our kids to set goals and accomplish them will help your kids and help the whole family.
No effective family nor outstanding child “just happens.” They are the result of planning and organization. All of that requires setting family goals.
Working on goals can be challenging. However, it can also be fun. There are many areas for the family to set goals. NEVER try to cover all of these in one family meeting. Your family will blow up. Introduce them in small chunks.
We’re all familiar with these goals within our families. You may be working on contention (eliminating it or perfecting it), honesty, selfless service, or others. Usually families work on it a little while, then let it drop.
Remember two principles: One, is the Bit-by-Bit Principle. The other is, Every Little Bit Makes a Difference. Sometimes we feel unsuccessful and think, “Man, we worked on that honesty thing for a whole 6 months. Here we are three years later, and it’s creeping up again. We’re failures!” Not so. We raise children and change behavior bit by bit. They learn about honesty at age four. Then, again at 8. Maybe repeat at 12, and again at 16 and on and on. Each time they learn it differently. Bit by bit, you end up with an honest child.
Bottom line, Every Little Bit Makes a Difference. You worked on eliminating contention in the home for a few months, then fizzled out. Even working on it that short while made a contribution and improvement to your family. It helped bring peace into your home. It made each of you a little bit better. Every tiny bit of effort you make in raising excellent children is important and makes a difference. You will be shocked when they come back years later and mention the most inconsequential, small thing that made a huge difference in their lives. Just keep plugging away at those little bits.
In your family culture, you may want to focus on daily family prayer, weekly family meetings, and family scripture study. You may have other goals that are important to your family. Committing to them and working on them will be a great blessing to the entire family.
Here, the family can look at goals and realize that Suzie needs to be saving for college by a certain year. Alan needs to have his car savings started. You can plan for vacations, for those wonderful weddings and other expenses. Setting financial goals and discussing them as a family can help tremendously with buy-in. Not to mention, its effectiveness in teaching your children how to budget, save and plan for the future.
So often, it's just the parents that have these conversations. Yet, it’s so valuable to set these financial goals as a family with kids having input and understanding. For example, you could sit as a family and say, “We need to redecorate the kitchen. What should we do and how can we save to get there?” Involve them in the process.
Is your family going to participate in sports? Which ones? When? Do you need classes or equipment? One year, my dad (who, when I look back, may have been in a slight mid-life crisis) suggested that we take up snow-skiing as a family sport. We all discussed it and (bless my mother) got the equipment. We took classes, and we’ve been a skiing family ever since.
Is your family going to go on vacation? Where and when? Many families don’t plan. Those who don’t plan, don’t go. It’s usually not the lack of money, but lack of planning that can kill a family vacation. These are such a fabulous opportunity for your family. They can be done incredibly cheap if you’re willing to be creative.
As mentioned before, the key with all goals is in writing them down and committing to them.
After setting family goals (which can change from year to year), it’s helpful to then pass this down to each child and help them set their own personal goals.
Here is a great way to help kids set goals. Each year, have the kids set their own goals (around five or six) such as “Get all A’s and B’s in school,” “Get my Arrow of Light Scouting Award,” “Be completely honest at home,” or whatever they want. Yes, you’ll have one child who will want to list 10 goals, and one that only wants one or preferably, none. Settle for about a half dozen and print them off the computer in big nice print onto really nice paper. Put them in an 8x10 picture frame and hang them on the wall right by their beds. This can be a powerful, constant reminder — especially when you discuss it regularly.
A large whiteboard or chalkboard in their rooms can also be effective. The kids can list their goals all the time, including short-term goals like, “clean out the hamster cage.” It is a very flexible reminder board, and they can use it constantly.
Setting goals in family planning meetings INVOLVES THE WHOLE FAMILY. All will have equal responsibility and (somewhat) equal commitment. Again, we need to reevaluate throughout the year to see if we’re on track, and see if the goal is still relevant to the family.
Helping the children and family set and accomplish goals is pivotal to raising truly independent kids who are equipped with strength and skills that will last them a lifetime. The actual “doing” of it is the most important part. That kind of training, day after day, year after year is tremendous in its impact. Those adults who have never learned this skill struggle forever. The difference in adulthood between those who learned how to set and accomplish goals and those who didn’t is glaring.