What kids can teach us about Goal Directed futures
Our son has just celebrated his fifth birthday and although we don’t make a huge fuss about milestones (the kids get a party every second year), there’s no doubt that he is learning about desired future outcomes and goals. I doubt he is different from most kids in his ability to spot something and declare with wholesome intensity ‘Ohhh – I’m so gonna get that…’. What I enjoy is his reaction when he doesn’t in fact ‘get that’.
He just moves on. What he is learning to do is separate the desirable from the worthy and that is a clue many of us can take from kids. The REALLY desireable goals can lead to kiddie meltdown whereas the distracting short term ‘so so’ goals hold minimal emotional attachment. The lesson adults can remind themselves of, is the ability to ignore the distracting and focus on the big issue. Setting goals may require small steps to achieve a large one, but it rarely requires getting lots of small things in order to achieve a large thing.
Activity versus productivity. Kids by and large live and let live – they move easily onto the next thing at hand. As parents our key jobs might be ensuring we do NOT teach them to get hung up on the minor things that aren’t that important. Most responses kids have are learned behaviours – from the fear of the dark, phobia of spiders, and even the foods they eat, kids typically build most of their understanding based on how they see us react and act.
If they see us all frantic and impulsive that is a key attribute they learn to mimic. If they see us not plan or see us fail think about our own future, that too is a habit they learn to mimic. If they see us setting goals, working hard to overcome obstacles and importantly, showing that we are able to discern the important from the merely attractive, it is likely they’ll also mimic that approach to their own world.
Right now our son Flynn is learning about being Goal Directed. Thankfully to date, he can focus on goals that matter, not just goals that are interesting – I hope we don’t teach him ‘out of’ that approach to the world.
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