Recently I was listening to a guidance counselor in a school tell kids about setting goals. She discussed the value of short term and long term goals, then had the kids write them down and asked them to share them with their parents. It was a good exercise to get them thinking about the future and what they wanted it to look like, but there were some problems. She did not tell them HOW to reach their goals. She did not discuss setting deadlines for reaching the goals.
To be fair, she only had an hour and she was covering a lot of ground in a short period. She was trying to drive home how making bad choices can keep us from reaching our goals; but, if you are going to discuss goal setting, should you not talk about “HOW” to reach them and the necessity of setting deadlines?
If we merely talk about goals without having an action plan and a deadline, then we are just daydreaming. Writing down your goals is critical to success, but it is just the first step. If that is all you do you might as well roll over and go back to sleep because nothing is going to come of it.
I know of an educator who was talking to a group of High School students about setting goals. One of the boys appeared disinterested in the discussion. When confronted about it, tears welled up in his eyes and he blurted out, “The problem is, nobody will show me HOW.” It was an emotional moment for the student and the teacher. Then the teacher said, “What if I show you HOW?”
For the next few minutes the class brainstormed on the goal the boy had set. They talked about what he needed to do to reach his goals and the various things that might trip him up. Then they talked about the timing. They discussed when he wanted to accomplish the goal and how would he measure the progress. It was a valuable lesson in education because he now for the first time had hope that he could reach his goals.
A few things I have learned about goal setting that might help you, your kids, and anyone you might be teaching:
- Goals definitely need to be written down. There is something about putting it in writing that gives it birth.
- Make sure the goal is realistic. You might want to play in the NFL but if you don’t have the skills then that will never happen.
- A goal should be measurable. If you can’t determine whether you are making progress or not, you need to redefine the goal.
- Have a deadline for when you want to reach the goal. No deadline, no value.
We are churning out too many graduates that have not defined their goals. They got a degree and now are wondering, “What do I do now?” The missing link is this: we need to help kids identify their gifts in their early years and give them opportunity to explore them. What can you do to help them identify their gifts?
- Observe what your kids gravitate to. If they are gifted athletes, let them try sports. If they love music, let them play an instrument. If they are avid readers, give them books they like to read.
- Identifying someone’s gifts is not as difficult as you might think. You will see that some kids have natural leadership skills and others tend to follow them. Just make sure they use their gift for good.
- Other kids will show great mechanical ability. They can take a set of blocks and create a monument. Introduce them to engineers so they can see what that lifestyle looks like.
- Some will show the ability to cook, write, hunt, fish, sew, or do public speaking. There are a million gifts and each of us is wired uniquely with different gifts.
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to help them identify their gifts. Once they know what they are good at, they can create a goal and a path to get there. You may be the one to set them on the road to fulfilling their destiny.