Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the weather and all the activities we get to enjoy outside. Summer also means our routine is thrown out of whack. When our family doesn’t have a lot of structure, it’s harder to be productive. So when school begins, it seems like we get back to our routine and are potentially more productive. I say “potentially” because a routine doesn’t necessarily mean things are getting done. One way that we can change that is by setting goals.
We help motivate our kids as they head back to school by talking about goals in our family devotion. Currently we are reading through Acts together, and it has been very fruitful, specially the night we covered Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphire die because they lie. Talk about a good honesty lesson. Any time we sense a little lie in the family, we just mention our friend Ananias, and all the kids sing like a canaries.
That night we also talked about our kids’ goals for the new year at school. We helped them list academic goals, spiritual goals, and athletic goals. Since we have made this a habit every year, I started by sharing their previous goals from last year. It was fun to remind them and to see their smiles light up when they realized that they had accomplished their goals. We cheered with every accomplishment. My oldest wanted to make all A’s and B’s in school, and she did it. My seven year old wanted to have a lot fun, and evidently she did. So we cheered! There were one or two goals that weren’t met. Failure is a great motivator if you let it sharpen you and not defeat you.
For goals to be effective they need to be clear, focused, and honest. One of my son’s new goals is to grow spiritually. That’s great, but it’s very general. We clarified and focused his goal a little more, and he decided to read the Gospel of Luke and journal for the first time. Great goal! My daughter said she wants to grow four inches this year. We talked about how that kind of thing is out of her control. She had to be honest with her goal. For a goal to be effective, it needs to stretch you and sometimes feel impossible, but if it’s not a realistic goal, you are setting yourself up for failure.
To help create clear, focused, and honest goals use the SMART acronym. I’ve used this acronym for a long time and it has served me well. When you begin to set your new goals make sure they are “smart” goals.
I have always been a goal setter in my life. They hold me accountable. I write them down and share them with my wife and mentors. I wake up and see my goals daily. My goals regularly motivate me to keep working and stay focused. When I get discouraged or experience a setback, I return to my goals. When I’m struggling to reach them I don’t let self-doubt rule my thoughts. Ultimately, I want my goals to help me steward my gifts and calling from the Lord. I want to steward my resources, my body, and my calling well.
What does God want your kids to accomplish this new school year? How about you? Share your goals with your kids and bring them up regularly to help your family stay focused on God’s will for your life.