Thursday, March 24, 2011

Goals For Today, Success For a Lifetime

What is the framework for success?  What motivates us?  What works in helping us stay on track and experience success?  And most importantly, what makes us WANT to accomplish something?  

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 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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.  
  3. 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.  
  4. 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. 
  5. 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
Self- Control

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?  



  1. Great idea, and great post! I often forget charts and behavior driven incentives-on busy days they get left behind-and suddenly one day adds to a few months! I might have to try your idea.

  2. Oh.My.Goodness. I love this! I've grown up in a family that is HUGE on setting goals, both individually and as a family. I love it. I love the unity it creates, the hope and the excitement that comes with it. Way to go!

  3. Your teaching and mothering talents blend together so beautifully! These are wonderful pictures of a fantastic family activity. We've done some similar things…and they work! Why do we not stick with them? Lol
    Goal-setting has historically been a key element in my life. I'm not too sure where it's been lately :P. Sometimes I write them down but most often I don't. I think I should start writing them down again :)

  4. Great Idea to start all these important habits at a young age. I may have missed certain blog posts, but do you home school and thats why there are so many activities planned? Otherwise you're just an awesome mom (we'll either way you're an awesome mom... you know what i mean)

  5. Thanks ladies! Lisa, you're so sweet. No, no homeschooling for me. I am a teacher on leave so maybe it is the teacher in me that feels the need to do this kind of thing. :) You can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can't take the teacher out of my heart. :)

  6. Charts are awesome and fun - so I think this is a great idea! I remember our teacher in first grade kind of doing things like this with us, and we would really band together as a class because we wanted to do the best we could.

    I haven't written goals down, but I just like to track what I do. For my runs I obsess over the numbers. I'm not a high mileage runner, yet, but if I chart the runs and see visuals it always helps me want to strive for more and improve and my distances and times.

  7. Wow. This is an awesome post. YOU are an example of a mother I hope to be. You should write a book! I'll buy it!!

    (And when I have kids, I'm totally doing that chart idea. Brilliant!)

  8. I LOVE this! You are definitely still a teacher at heart :) What an amazing way to help teach your kids responsibility. Even though I'm far from being a mom, I can't wait to read more about how this works with your kids! I especially love the kids' illustrations of the traits. I'm definitely filing this idea away for when I have kids FAR in the future :)

  9. I am going to have to file this away for baby girl when she is older! What a fantastic idea!

  10. This is a wonderful post, I am thinking I need to bring back some sticker charts :)

  11. What a good mom you are! My behavior management is darn good in the classroom (if I do say so myself lol) and SUCH a weakness at home. I'm much more effective at getting my students invested in the things I want for them than my own kids. Of course, for a lot of my students, they have to want it bc their homes aren't necessarily the most educationally nurturing. Your kids (and your students, when you're back in the classroom) are lucky to have you.

  12. LOVE THIS POST!!!!!! i have a huge chore chart in my kitchen,but i dont have a behavior/resposibility chart like the one you posted...
    i am SO GOING TO DO THIS!!
    have been getting tired of always feeling like im nagging and saying,dont do this,stop that,quit this,yadda yadda yadda...
    thank you so much for sharing!
    you rock!!!!!

  13. This is great, Amanda. I'm a person who needs a framework to work within, so seeing all of this plotted out is really helpful to me as a mom. I never seem to be able to bring these types of things to fruition because I let myself get caught up in all the anal details (that is just so my personality). My kids LOVE to set goals (especially my daughter) but I'm not the best at facilitating this. I know that I need to give up some of my "power" and give my kids more control over themselves. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Hi there!' are SOOOO a teacher slash school counselor! That was my job 24/7!;-) luv it;-)

    and uh me some goals, writing em' down, collages, the works. You're a speakin' my language baby!';-)

  15. If I am ever a mom, I hope a am half the model mommy you are. Way to empower your kiddos making them part of the project!

    Your goals and journal inspired me towards mine--you are amazing Amanda!

  16. All of your words are truly wonderful to sweet. Thank you. Blogging is good for the ego. ;)

  17. What sweet kids, and such a good idea! I'm constantly writing things down. Happy Friday!

  18. All these things are such important things to be taught as a child. A 17 year old relative of mine has never been given boundaries, never learnt responsibility, never been taught to goal set and has not been made accountable for his actions. He is not a very happy boy.

  19. i love the artwork! the "bed" especially. :)

    glad the lesson is going well!

  20. Missed this:) Wow, you are REALLY a great mom. That's not a "feelgood" comment either. Effectiveneness of've really sparked some self-reflection here. You're so right! Ownership of behavior, working toward success, feeling accomplishment are so important to kids and I think 've really been caught up in this busy lifestyle and ignored the importance of these things. Thanks, on behalf of my kids, for opening my eyes here! I'm going to forward this blogpost to my sister. She would love it (she's also a teacher)

    I imagine you will have just an unbelievable relationship with your kids as they get older. When they fully get a chance to appreciate how much you love them and how much you do for them. I'm betting those 3 babies grow up to be confident, creative, passionate, amazing individuals just like their awesome mama:)

  21. You are an awesome mom! I hope you know that. And I love the idea of ownership--something all little people need to learn. That lesson will carry them so far in life!

    I spent some time with a parenting counselor about a year ago b/c my daughter can be really hard to handle sometimes. One of the things she taught me was ownership and it has been really key in behavior modification. And you figured it all out on your own!

  22. Wow.. I loved this post. Hope you don't mind if I steal some of your ideas, I have never even thought of doing something like this but I can totally see how it would work! You deserve a sticker on your chart for being a great Mom!

  23. My family has always said that I would have made a great teacher although I pursued a different path because I have my walls devoted to sticker charts, chore boards, individual art display cork boards to feature great work and we keep all of their school goal charts on the fridge. I think direction and being held accountable and REWARDED are things that really allow children to keep a great balance between a creative mind and a responsible character. You are so amazing! Hope you know that!

  24. Amazing..can I copy you?? Totally going to try! I need this as well! Connecting with my 10 year old on responsibility has been tough! THANKS!

  25. wow..that seem like a lot of work. Regular beatings are WAAYY easier.

    KIDDING!!!!!! : )

  26. Such a teacher =D

    I am so sorry...I have not been a good blog reader this week.

    I love that you remember doing the "fruit of the spirit" activity when you were young. It is interesting to ponder what our kids will remember most. Recently I had nathan do a writing assignment based on Ephesians 4:32- "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." He drew a picture of himself reading a favorite book to his brother. Made my heart warm. :)

    Your daughters will grow from this structured encouragement! Great mom you are!!

    It's funny you mention our life goals..I don't really plan out my life that way. I have tried to put more time into planning my day to day activities as of late, though. It really helps my sanity.

  27. You are so organized I feel like a hoarder with an eating problem. My life goals are getting shorter as I get older, just because I 've gotten a bit more realistic about what I can and want to accomplish. Instead of 10-20 years, I focus on 1-5 years.

    And teaching your kids to be organized, along with teaching them to cook and keep a house are some of the most important things you can do!

  28. lots of times my goals are my prayers. I think if they are sincere, then they need to be shared with God, ya know?
    Thank you again for this encouragement. I need to work on the nagging.....for my husband. hehe.

  29. Hey Sue,

    I have to write back really quick to let you know that my mom read your comment and was cracking up that you called me organized. She then proceeded to take pictures of my messy house and take a video of my chaos so I could show you the real thing. Pictures might be coming! Ha ha! I look better on my blog than real life. :) :)

  30. I am impressed on so many levels:)

    I can't believe you actually got the kids involved in this. They did such a great job with the charts, and they look like they really want to "play along". Wish I could "sell" something like this to my son. He is all about extrinsic motivators and everything intrinsic goes way over his head, even when it should not.

    I don't nag, but my husband does. My son has learnt to block it out. I tend to use a lot of negative reinforcement (taking away stuff), which works, but does not teach him why it is important to listen and follow rules.

    OK, rambling here, loved this supermom! I think you should go get that PhD in Education:)

  31. This was just so cute. Awesome job Mom. I loved this, "Bro Bro". I have one more suggestion for your goals: Write it down and then create a blog about it. As an example: BQ or Die. At least express it in our blogs. Proclame it for the world to see.

    For instance: I am going to start a Blog called: Beat Amanda to 3:20. And another one that it is called: Beat Amanda to sub 20 5k in 2011. It's now what I live for.

  32. What a great mom you are!! I soo remember those days of charts. Now I'm battling hormonal teens and preteens.. UGH! Somedays it seems all those words I filled them with are no longer in their heads. I wish I was back in the old days.

  33. YOU are just brilliant and you should write some type of parenting book that includes the word "organic" in it's title. I LOVE the way you have your kids take responsibility for their behavior and actually represent their own goals in the different areas. Truly, WRITE A BOOK!!! Speaking of which, I want to send you the BEST book for your kiddos at home. SOmeone just gave me a copy and it has been invaluable in our classroom and I know you'd love it. Please send me you mailing address again via email!! I can't find it from the last time...I'm kind of batty right now!
    Hugs, keeping on using your "home" time organically and to the max!!

  34. What a great idea for your children! They look like they really enjoyed the project. You are a very creative and talented mom! Awesome!! I write my goals down pretty regularly. It helps keep me focused and motivated.

  35. This is wonderful girlfriend - you inspire us all! Well done and well thought through!

  36. i LOVE IT! the picture of them putting up the stickers is my favorite :)

    i do have goals and i am 100% more likely to achieve those goals when i track my progress, whether it is on a chart or in a journal (depending on how public those goals are :)

  37. What a fantastic idea!! I am totally stealing it for my almost 4 year old! I think I am good at catching him doing good things but I think he would love some direction from me about what is expected of him....this is perfect!

    Thanks so much for the great post!

  38. This is awesome! Truly, I cant wait to try this. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible idea! Well done!

  39. Gosh this is good. You inspire me. I feel I may have left this late - I'm not sure how to tackle something like this with my 13 year old. But I'm going to talk to her about it.