Teaching your child to set goals

March 17th, 2014 @   -  No Comments

Goal setting is an important part of the journey of success. As someone once said, “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”

How can you help your children set and accomplish their goals?

Incorporate your goal into your self-image

One of the best ways to achieve a goal is to envision yourself having already accomplished it. For instance, if part of your self-image is being an honest person, you are less likely to lie.

Building this self-image is easier for children than adults because children have a more malleable view of themselves and the world. If done correctly, parents can have a big positive influence on the child’s self-image and in helping their children achieve future goals. For this to happen, parents themselves must work with certain goals in mind. Many parents focus on satisfying their children’s material needs but do not extend their goals beyond that. They have no idea in which direction they want to raise their children let alone how they will accomplish that goal.  

What is within your control?

To achieve their goals, children must learn to focus on what they can control. Most people who make little or no progress focus and lament on the things they cannot control.  As a result, they feel powerless to do anything and develop a negative mindset that only attracts negative results. On the other hand, individuals who focus on what they can control are more likely to be successful because they do not waste their time and energy on the things outside of their control.

Adaptability in goals

It is good to have goals and be persistent in achieving them but flexibility is also crucial. It is important to accept that goals can change and that it might be for the better. Goals that we initially think are great may not be the best for us.

“It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (Quran 2:216)

Goals are not static and can change with time. Michael Jordan started off in baseball. His goal was to become one of the world’s best baseball players. He recounts how he used to wake up very early in the morning for practice, but no matter how much he practiced and how disciplined he was, his baseball skills and game remained lacking. Then he switched to basketball and realized that he was much better at it than baseball. Had he been inflexible with his goals, he would not have become one of the greatest basketball players in history. Goals are not set in stone; they can be adjusted depending on the factors around us.

The process may be more important than the goal

Sometimes it is not the end in itself that matters but the process. We can learn a lot while trying to achieve a goal. What we learn during the process can allow us to do things that we did not even plan for or consider doing. Sometimes we fail to accomplish a goal but achieve something even better.

Guidance and support versus force

What if you set goals for your children that they do not agree with? Do you force your goals on them? Many children complain about not being allowed to follow their interests, especially in their choice of a career, because their parents are forcing them to pursue something else. Many of these children are miserable because their life goals are not their own. Parents have had the opportunity to live their own lives and they should allow the same for their children. If the parents were not given the opportunity to lead their own lives, they should not repeat the same mistake with their own children. Give your children guidance and encouragement to be the best that they can be, but allow them to define that for themselves.

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