Many homeschooling families feel a bit lost without a planner or schedule. Using these tools is a form of goal-setting. But, we often fail to see why goals are important in other areas. We make vague goals that are really only dreams. Or, another popular idea these days is making a bucket list of things we want to do before God calls us home. Again, this is little more than a list of dreams that will never become reality if we don’t learn how to set goals.
While it’s certainly fun to imagine ourselves doing wonderful things, the reason why goals are important is that they force us to act. Action is the key to change and change forces growth, improvement, and so much more. Think of Romans 5:3, Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. So, let’s get in to how goals are important to our mental health.
Why Goals are Important to Mental Health
Setting Goals Helps You See Your Mission
Setting goals forces you to clarify what you want. If you don’t do this, it will be difficult to determine what kinds of steps that you’ll need to take. Without goals, everything feels overwhelming and that leads to anxiety and discouragement. Banish those feelings by forming a plan! To get started, it’s a good idea to brainstorm and list all of your goals without judging them. That way, you can make some choices about which ones you want to pay attention to first. One great way to do this is with a vision journal. Grab mine!
Get the entire family involved
Encourage each member of your family to do this. Start by asking them to find a quiet place where they can be alone and without distractions, especially from electronic devices. To make this happen, make sure no one has any appointments or outside classes or camps. You don’t want any interference or influences from others. After all, kids sometimes express interest in something simply because their friends are doing it. We want them to really spend some time on this. In addition, they may need to do a brain dump to help them drill down to their core self.
You, as the parent, may want to pray and ask God for guidance as to what each child’s core needs are. What new goals would address each child’s true self, true purpose? Write everything down and then you can come together as a family to discuss what each of you wrote.
Come to a consensus about one or two family goals and one main goal for each person to work toward achieving. This whole exercise helps clarify what your family is all about, what you really want, and how you can help each other. It goes beyond bucket lists and dreaming of that someday that never comes. Keep these lists and vision boards, though. Once you’ve accomplished the first goals you’ve set, you’ll want to go back to this list. To help children think about goals, check out our Goal Setting for Kids pack.
You’ll Make Better Use of Your Time
Do you know how much time you and members of your family waste every day? According to research about time wasters appearing on BroadbandSearch.net, people waste more than two hours a day on social media and an additional nearly three hours on television. As people, most humans feel the need to be busy to keep themselves distracted from unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Plus, boredom is uncomfortable. Constantly making choices about what to do is exhausting. So, many times we choose the path of least resistance. We choose entertainment instead of a productive learning pursuit or other meaningful activity.
We do this because we don’t have a plan for our days. Many times, we have some vague ideas of what we wish we could accomplish, but without a plan of action, nothing happens. And, unfortunately, we or our children end up watching too much television or playing too many video games.
Then, we feel bad about spending so much time on media and we engage in negative self-talk. After that, it just spirals downward. You can see that one of the reasons why goals are important is that it prevents this spiraling downward.
One of the first things that you’ll notice after taking a few moments to organize and prioritize your goals, is that you’ll make a massive improvement in how you utilize your time. It will be easier for you to see how much time you and your kids waste and what is possible with a bit of direction. And, when you stop wasting time, you see real results much faster. You become much more conscious of how you’re spending your time as well. This, in turn, motivates you to set new goals as you see all the positive progress you’re making.
Improves Your Outlook
How many times have you felt defeated because you didn’t accomplish anything in a day? How often do you start filling your mind with negative self-talk because of your perceived inability to get anything done? What effect does a lack of planning and goal-setting have on your overall outlook on life? Let’s turn that around with some goal-setting! Even small goals for you and your family will give you a new sense of positivity and accomplishment. We’ve already mentioned how setting goals sets you up to defeat discouragement, frustration, overwhelm, and wasted time. As you set goals and reach them through careful planning, your view of yourself changes. You begin to see yourself as someone who gets things done, as someone capable of great things.
Helps Fight Stress
Writing down your goals, the act of getting it out of your head and on to the page, actually reduces stress. That’s because you no longer have to keep all that stuff in your head, trying to remember, and trying to make decisions on the fly all the time. Getting it down on paper also makes it more real. It forces you to deal with it and decide how important it is to you, effectively ending procrastination.
Why Writing Down Your Goals Boosts Your Chances of Success
In life we all have dreams, ambitions we want to achieve. However, it is entirely in your power whether they remain dreams or whether you will actually set out to make them a reality. If you think of a dream, you know it is more like a hope; a wish not yet fulfilled. Your child may want to be a computer programmer or an author. Those are great but just having dreams won’t actually help you or your children achieve them.
As already mentioned, writing dreams down can help increase the chance of them becoming a reality. The very act of committing them to paper makes them more real and concrete. Fleshing those out turns them into goals or end-points. When your child says, “I want to program computers,” writing that down and turning it into a goal means that now, you can investigate the steps it takes to get there. It also helps if you and/or your child can articulate why that particular goal is important. For example, did he set that goal because he perceives that it’s an in-demand career? Because he loves computers? Because he wants to start a business? Or, he wants to make a lot of money? Understanding what drives a goal or dream plays an important role in deciding the true objective and the true steps to take.
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of finally realizing a goal that you’ve had and worked hard to achieve. Even if you start small, that small success will inspire you to plan bigger. Being intentional about life enables us to stand before the throne of God and hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
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