It is impossible to overstate the importance of having goals; this habit can play such a crucial role in shaping our lives, offering the gifts of direction, purpose, and accountability for our choices. Once children reach a certain maturity level, have age-appropriate conversations about goal setting and pursuit. Be a healthy role model. As they grow, they become more capable of setting, pursuing, and accomplishing their goals. With a father’s encouragement, kids learn valuable lessons, develop self-confidence, and realize the great power in living with purpose. So much intellectual synergy is gained between goals, planning, and decision-making; strength in one automatically supports growth in the others.
People who have goals walk with a tiny bit of extra purpose, even if only subliminal. To achieve our goals, sometimes we need to learn new things, calling upon our resourcefulness. Canadian psychologist, Jordan B. Peterson asks, “What would you be like if you turned on everything inside of you that could be turned on?” The enthusiasm of our pursuit propels us to engage our entire self, helping us discover new capabilities. This process fosters a continual circling of who we might be as we grow closer to who we need to become to achieve the goal. Moving across time, we take small but important steps on the pathway to destiny. Even in difficult situations, things like anger and loss can be repurposed into a goal that flips a negative proposition right side up. By taking ownership of something that truly matters, we live inspired.
True goals are not generalizations such as “get better grades,” make more money,” or “lose weight,” but are S.M.A.R.T.; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. True goals check all of the abovementioned boxes: “earn an A in English next semester,” “make an extra $500 a week by the end of this year,” or “lose 10 pounds this month.”
- Specific. Precisely articulate what we want to accomplish. Specificity defines success.
- Measurable. Is our goal a one-off or are there milestones that must be achieved in a certain chronology? Describe how progress will be measured.
- Achievable. Do we have the skills needed to reach our goal? If not, can we acquire them? With entrepreneurship, for example, we either possess, develop, hire, or partner with the skills needed for the mission. If something is not achievable with the resources presently at hand, confidently seek the needed resources. If we cannot find them, revisit the plan (and the goal) to modify as needed.
- Relevant. Is our goal worthwhile? Does it fit with the big picture we see for ourselves? Does our goal align with things that truly matter to us?
- Time-bound. When will we achieve our goal? By implementing a timeline / deadline, we create accountability and a sense of urgency, motivating us to act now.
Review Our Plan Twice a Day to Stay on Target
Each morning, review the plan. Know what to do—but more importantly—why to do it. Each evening, check in with accomplishments and lessons learned, these inform tomorrow’s plan. Taking notes in a “Goal Journal” to start and finish each day can help us stay on track. With big goals, the target may change from day to day. Be flexible, ready to hit pause and recalibrate the best next steps. Success doesn’t happen accidentally, it is the result of careful planning, resourcefulness, and consistency, an oasis of self-confidence where goal fulfillment is not a matter of if, but when.
Decision-Making for Goal Fulfillment = A Powerful Formula
As with so many good habits, so much synergy is gained between decision-making and having goals; strength in one automatically supports growth in the other. There is a redeeming power in writing things down; to-do lists, short-term and long-term goals, inspirational quotes, thoughts from the heart that light a fire or keep passions burning. Write it down, give it life. Touch it, see it, and revisit it daily for inspiration. Writing Pros vs Cons lists help us visualize trade-offs as we consider which moves to make.
When we decide, one powerful mind hack is to set in our hearts that we will be successful—and to set in our minds that we will enjoy the process. Then, allow faith and commitment to pull us towards fulfillment. Work hard—but don’t be a hamster on wheel. Work smart—but don’t overthink it. Hard work works. Every single choice has consequences. Stay focused on the prize.
Conversely, we can make pursuit much more of an uphill battle by concentrating on pushing ourselves, trudging through obstacles, and enduring the reps as we strenuously crawl and claw towards our goal. When we focus on fighting through the process rather than being carried by the destination, we increase our exposure to getting derailed.
Our mentality can lighten or intensify the load we carry as we pursue achievement. During any journey, consistency, resilience, or resourcefulness can make a huge difference; the combined synergy of these three forces can make someone unstoppable. When struggling with goals, think about the desired outcome, become rejuvenated by why we want it, and do whatever it takes to make our dream come true. Be smart… and then be relentless. Even if we aren’t successful, we will grow from the process. Failure is often the greatest teacher. Celebrate failure, learn, and build upon these lessons to proceed more intelligently; sometimes a step back keeps us on the truest course forward.
Teach Children to Have Goals
One of THE most important things we can teach our children is that they can find direction and inspiration by having goals. Think of a boat leaving a harbor, with no captain or crew to set the course; it cannot and will not reach its destination successfully. The same is true of the human spirit. So many young people, distracted during their teen years are suddenly thrust into the adult world, underprepared to direct their own life path. They wake up and don’t understand how they lost control, a narrative that implies they had control in the first place. Without goals, we are not at the helm. What happens when these young adults feel trapped in a relationship, a job, or a life they hate? Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Goals give purpose.
Teach children to set goals with intentionality—to pursue them with confident expectation. Teach them they can guide their future by having goals that align with the life they want for themselves. Remember, it is totally normal for children and teenagers to have not yet discovered their larger life goals. BUT—there are lots of smaller goals that will provide skills and experiences to improve the chances of living their best life. Teach them to beware of unhealthy distractions, such as excessive screen time or hanging out with troublemakers. Teach them that time is the most precious asset we possess; minimize the time we spend with activities that don’t serve us in meaningful ways. By having goals, we also have an easy-button for enjoying the uncommon trifecta of fulfillment, inspiration, and passion. To the best of our ability, let’s teach children the importance of having goals.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
—Proverbs 19:21 NIV
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.