I’m not one to establish an annual “New Year’s resolution”. I realize if I don’t have the motivation to challenge myself or change a habit during the year, I unfortunately won’t mystically attain it come January 1. I don’t like setting myself up for failure!
When it comes to setting goals, I’m less motivated by the first of the year and more motivated by both internal rewards (we call this intrinsic motivation) and natural consequences.
Internal rewards: It feels satisfying to have a clean bedroom, so I put items and clothes where they belong.
Natural consequences: If I eat too much chocolate, I feel sick. Therefore, I (mostly) limit myself.
So while I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I do realize we all have New Year’s Day and resolutions on the brain—it seems a natural time to talk with our children about setting goals. Let’s share with them why we choose to pursue goals (boiled down to feeling good or to avoid feeling bad) and what goals we choose to pursue. Share a few successes and share a few failures, as well as how you handled them. They need to know how to handle both.
Next, help them recognize goals they already pursue to feel pleasant and goals they already pursue to avoid unpleasant outcomes.
Take it a step further. Help your child realize what he or she is motivated to change and teach your child to problem solve a solution. The solution can then be refined into a main goal and accompanied mini objectives. This is key; substantial goals are overwhelming, while mini objectives are achievable.
Tell them our lives are like train cars and the train tracks are the goals we choose to pursue. Without them, we’re without a course and where we end up is haphazard.
No need to leave our destinations to chance. While we’re not in full control of every outcome, we can decide where we want to be and set goals to get there.
- Reading and writing development in preschoolers
- Learning screen-magnification software
- Acquiring the skills needed to make friends
- Job-exploration for blind adolescents
Happy goal-setting and a very happy New Year!