Some typical things I nag my kids about on an hourly basis:
* Stop bugging your sister
* Share with your brother
* Use kind words with each other
* Calm down and say that in a different way
* Clean up your mess
In the midst of normal nagging and chaos this morning, I started to question myself as a mother and the effectiveness of my nagging, continual reminders and harping on my kids to do things the way I wanted. And then it dawned on me. Where was the ownership for them? Where was I providing any kind of structure for them to OWN their behavior and work towards success? Something to be proud of and accomplish? Somewhere along the road of motherhood, I forgot about the sticker charts and intrinsic and extrinsic incentives. Instead of setting them up to take control of their behavior, I've turned into a dictator that holds all the power and hence all the weight of trying to make things happen. I've resorted to bossing around, modeling poor behavior (yelling at them to not yell, losing my cool when I'm telling them to be patient, etc.), and expecting them to do things because I said so without putting the ball in their court to take control of their own actions.
I started questioning the things that motivate me to work towards success. What makes me tick? What makes me work hard to improve...be better at something, succeed in something challenging, push myself to keep climbing and becoming a more fulfilled person? I've always been a driven person and when I set new goals for myself, I usually meet them or change them as my life changes. And that's when I realized... for as long as I can remember, I've lived my life with GOALS! I live a goal driven life and I work hard towards the goals I set for myself. Setting goals, visualizing them, and working hard towards them has been the framework for my life.
Some strategies I use to help me keep my goals fresh in my mind so I can visualize them and make them a part of my daily living:
- Write them down! This is always the first thing I do when I'm setting new goals for my life. Seeing them on paper is the fist step to breathing life into them and seeing them grow into a reality.
- Put your goals up somewhere where you can see them. When I first write down my goals, I write them in one of my journals. I save my running goals for my running journal and personal goals are usually in my personal journal. My husband and I even write our marriage goals in our shared journal.
- Create vision collages. I create my vision collages with pictures from magazines, books, real life, etc. that create a visual to remind me of my goals and things I want more of in my life: love, peace, healthy eating, to be a better athlete, spending quality time with my children, travel, spiritual growth, etc. I put these collages on my bathroom mirror and in my journals.
- Self Affirmations. I often write power statements to motivate myself. I put them in places where I look often. Notes of affirmation might include phrases like: "You are beautiful and wise. You will run fast! You are helping creating a magical and memorable childhood for your children. Smile often. Today is a joyful day to be thankful for!" You might find these notes of affirmation on my mirrors, cupboards, walls, journals, car, etc.
- Celebrate success and progress. I encourage myself and celebrate my accomplishments and new goal setting.
Helping Our Children Live a Goal Driven Life and Experience Success
Our children are people too. Little people, yes! But they need the same types of structure in their lives in order for them to learn to live a goal driven life, feel successful, and take ownership over their accomplishments and hard work. One of my earliest memories is when my mom had us illustrate all the fruits of the spirit from the bible. She drew a box for each trait: Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Self- Control, etc. and we talked about them and then illustrated what each one looked like in our life. This really helped my five or six year old brain make sense of what these characteristics meant for me in my life and to this day I think back to that day as one of the starting points for realizing how powerful goal setting and visualizing the life we want for ourselves can be.
Charts Charts Charts!
I've always been a fan of creating sticker charts with my kids to help them work towards goals. We've done this with potty training, chores, working towards earning a trip to Disneyland, etc. However, it has been awhile since I've created a sticker chart and I'm not sure why I've let it go for so long since it works SO WELL with my kiddos! A huge thing for them is SEEING their progress and having the visual reminder of their goals.
So, today we made a chart with some of their biggest goals. We talked about what they wanted to improve on and decided that the most important things were:
Being Kind and Loving
Then we brainstormed what each of these characteristics meant and what it would look like in their daily life. We included some of these on the chart (more as a reminder for me to be on the lookout for these things so I can reinforce their positive behavior).
After our brainstorm session and typing up of our chart, they wrote each characteristic in a box and then drew a picture that shows what this characteristic might look like in their personal life.
We made sure to post these pictures along with the chart up somewhere in their room where they can see it every day! Now my part will be to remind them of their goals and remember to "catch them" putting their goals into action!
I was highly impressed with how seriously they took this activity. And how excited they are about it! I instantly noticed them catching themselves and changing their own behavior. For example, my oldest daughter caught herself when she was about to chew her sister's head off for something and instead, she calmed down and said it in a very loving and nonthreatening manner. The great thing is that they don't expect anything other than stickers and an encouraging word. They were not promised some big prize or treats of every kind. I'm sure at the end of it all, I might take them to do something special like get a cupcake and hot chocolate but the biggest reward is that they get to feel PROUD and SEE their accomplishments. They get to SET their own goals and feel how good it feels to meet their goals and feel successful in life! This is the true prize!! Personally, this is what keeps me driven in life...the feeling I get from accomplishing something and doing things that make my life better for myself and those around me.
Do you make goal setting a part of your life?
Do you write your goals down?