If you’re homeschooling, you NEED goals! Most people would never attempt to navigate a major journey without a road map or GPS. Yet most people don’t intuitively recognize the importance of having such a “road map” for their daily lives. And even if they do recognize its importance, they likely don’t follow through on goal setting in any organized or significant way.
Goals help us focus and achieve. Setting, documenting, and reviewing your goals regularly ensures you have a “road map” to get where you want to go in life. Without a proven system of goal setting, we risk getting “lost” along the way. We risk never achieving the outcomes we value most. In fact, there’s a good chance we’ll wake up 5, 10, or 20 years from now and wonder how we ended up where we are. All because we didn’t have a plan to get where we had wanted to go.
This is especially important for homeschool families because you’re taking your children’s education into your own hands. We already know that schools aren’t going to teach our kids much in the way of useful life skills, that’s one of the thousand reasons we homeschool! We’re preparing them to navigate the waters of the “real world”. They will be the ones to suffer later if we end up “getting lost” along the way. The easiest way to ensure that they end up where they intend to go is to practice setting and achieving goals on a regular basis.
Many people are aware of the SMART acronym for goal setting. SMART goals are recognized as one of the most effective ways of setting and achieving goals.
Goals must be…
- (S)pecific: Describe exactly what you want to accomplish, be as specific as possible. “I will write a book proposal for what will be my next book, Living Forward” instead of “I want to write a book”.
- (M)easurable: “I will lose 20 lbs” instead of “I want to be more healthy” or “I want to lose weight”.
- (A)ctionable: Starts with an action word – “I will write two blog posts per week” instead of “I want to be more consistent in blogging”.
- (R)ealistic: Goals have to be realistic for us and in the timeframe we set. They should not be in your comfort zone (no easy goals), but they can’t be in your “delusional zone” either (impossible goals). They have to fall somewhere in between in what Hyatt calls your “discomfort zone”.
- (T)ime Bound: Every goal must have a due date. This is the difference between an aspiration and a goal. Deadlines create urgency, which drives action. Each goal should have a unique deadline.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and an American author, entrepreneur, and productivity expert, describes 5 main principles we should follow to succeed at setting goals.
1. Keep them few in number. Michael recommends limiting your goals to no more than 7 to 10 goals that you are working toward at any one time. Otherwise, Michael argues, you just can’t stay focused. Make sure you balance these goals to include work-related goals, relational goals, and self-care goals.
2. Make your goals SMARTER. Michael takes the SMART goals principle a little further and makes them SMARTER, adding these last two principles:
- (E)xciting: Your goals have to be compelling to YOU. If it does not excite you, you’re just not going to follow through.
- (R)elevant: Must be relevant to the season of life you’re in. Just because someone else is able to pursue a specific goal doesn’t mean that it will work for your season of life. If you have five kids at home and work a full time job, you may not be likely to spend an hour in the gym every day.
3. Write them down. Hyatt believes this is critical to achieving your goals and can benefit you even if you never follow through on a goal setting plan. He references Henriette Anne Klauser’s book Write It Down and Make It Happen.
4. Review them frequently. You can review your goals daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on your preference. Reviewing your goals allows you to generate action items that allow you to move forward and achieve your goals.
5. Share them selectively. Hyatt talks about a TED Talk by Derek Sivers, who makes a compelling case for why you shouldn’t go public with your goals. He claims this can actually make you less likely to achieve your goals. Therefore, Hyatt believes in sharing your goals to a select few trusted people, which helps to keep you accountable.
As a homeschooler, I am always looking to discover and recommend new online educational resources. In that spirit, I highly recommend checking out Michael Hyatt’s podcast This Is Your Life.