By Jenny Ang Dy
Ushering in the New Year is such a hopeful time for everyone. A blank page and a fresh start, we can’t help but look forward with optimism and come up with New Year’s resolutions during this time of year.
Unfortunately, most resolutions don’t even make it past February for many different reasons. So instead of making resolutions, our family sets aside a few hours during the Christmas break to write down our individual goals together. This exercise helps create a stronger bond among our family members as we find out what’s important to each other and, later on, decide on how to support one another as a family. It also helps us pray for each other and hold each other accountable in achieving the goals that we’ve written down.
Time to set goals
When you’ve taken the time to plan and write things down, it somehow brings what’s written down to something that’s seen, heard, and eventually realized as you create more concrete action plans to support each goal. New Year’s may be the prime time for setting goals, but this can be done anytime of the year, which is exactly how ours started four years ago.
At that time, my two older daughters, Catreese, 7, and Jianna, 6, just got out of school. In order to make the most out of summer, I asked them to write down everything they wanted to do. Instead of a list, I told them to make it look like a picture. Jianna wrote hers down inside circles and Catreese, who just wanted to get it over with, used lines. Their goals read something like this: Read 10 books, do ballet, take up swimming lessons, play piano twice a week, take up art classes, learn 100 new Japanese words, learn how to cook spaghetti, and do a garage sale.
It was random activities that followed the smart way of goal setting or SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound. We posted it on the wall so that they could see the list and achieve everything written there before school started.
By the time summer was over, the kids had completed most of the things on the list. The goal board enabled us to hold them accountable and enabled us to follow up on their progress. It encouraged them to try new things, read more books, explore, and even endure summer programs that they felt like giving up on after they tried it.
Two years ago, we were inspired by Financial Quotient or FQ mom Rose and her husband Marvin Fausto to do goal setting overseas.
My husband saw an opportunity to use family vacations as a venue to do our family goal setting activity in order to make it more memorable for our kids. A different setting with no distractions. Armed with colored pens and illustration boards, we would set aside some time during our travels cooped up in a hotel room to create a goal board before the end of the year.
How to get started
The first step in creating our goal board is to think back and write down what you’re grateful for in the past year. In our case, we decided on a list of 12—one for each month. For my youngest daughter, Chloe, who is only five years old, I wrote down the words “Thank you, Jesus” so she could just complete the sentence. She also drew little pictures to make it more fun. I let the older two kids create their own as long as they wrote down a list of twelve. We then proceeded to present each board for others to see.
Reminding our kids to be grateful is our way of killing entitled mindsets. This way, we can remind them that everything is God’s and we are mere stewards, whether those are material gifts, privileges, or talents. We want them to keep in mind that it is our duty to be good stewards of all the blessings that are given to us.
The second step is to write down your goals. But instead of putting down the word “goals,” we put down “Prayers for 2020” because we believe that while we can make our own plans, we should let God be the one to direct it. I like how Rose Fausto put it—“Jesus doesn’t need anything material so what can we do to improve ourselves to be more pleasing to Him?”
You can categorize your goals using different areas in your life such as Family, Career/School, Spiritual Life, Sports, and Personal Growth. For Chloe, I helped her draw herself and just put bubbles around it, so she could write down her prayers inside the bubbles. At this age, what’s important is for her to participate and feel encouraged, to help give her a sense of purpose to build her confidence. You can ask questions like “What do you want to be better at?“ or ask them how they can improve certain tasks? Like packing away, brushing their teeth, or reading more books.
After the prayers are written down, each one is again asked to present. Talking about your goals and prayers to another family member just pushes the commitment to act on what you’ve written down one step further.
Going the extra mile
This year, I added another step to help us reassess our goals. I asked them to draw a self-meter, which is basically a bar with a range of zero to 100. After they finished the second step, I asked them, “Based on the things you put on your prayer list and your grateful list, which are for yourself and for others?” and “How do you rate yourself based on what you are praying for?”
I’m sure you have an idea of how this question was answered because most of us will really have selfish goals. But wouldn’t the world be a better place if we thought less of ourselves and more of others?
If we have company goals, shouldn’t we set family goals as well? To drive our families further instead of just going with the flow? This year, may we not only live for ourselves, but live for others just as Christ wanted us to. Happy goal setting, everyone!