Setting goals is an important skill to teach children. By reflecting on their interests and abilities and deciding upon areas where they want to improve, children learn valuable self-reflections tools. Goals also help improve concentration, self-esteem and motivation as they provide a focus for mental and physical energy. Having a defined purpose also helps avoid feeling lost, bored or depressed and assists children in feeling stronger, smarter and able to take on even greater challenges each and every day.
While yoga teaches contentment with the here and now, it also encourages us to strive to be our best selves. Two yoga niyamas deal with setting goals. Tapas (self-discipline) encourages making a concerted effort and not giving up easily by developing habits of hard work and perseverance. Svadhyaya (lifelong study and learning) encourages self-contemplation and investigating subjects of interest with an open heart and mind.
1. Create Goals
The first step in setting goals is to reflect upon what you want in life. Allow children to come up with their own goals thereby increasing self-motivation. The role of the adult here is to help them make the goals realistic and attainable being sensitive to age, interests, maturity and resources. Create a vision of what life will be like when the goal is achieved and why it is important.
2. Develop a Plan
Next you need to develop a plan and take focused action. This is where you define the goal, outline the steps needed to achieve the goal, consider roadblocks and how to overcome them and set deadlines. Often children will need to set mini-goals, breaking down big goals into specific, measurable tasks. Be sure to write down the goal and post it somewhere where it can be reviewed regularly (on a desk at school, the bathroom mirror). It is helpful to set an intention and create an affirmation which support the goal and powerfully impact its accomplishment.
3. Build Community
The final step is to build support for turning intentions into reality. Work together to achieve goals, being supportive and encouraging. You are your child’s biggest cheerleader. Tell others about how hard your child is working and how they inspire you through their hard work, willingness to improve and self-discipline. Be an example yourself by working toward your own goals and discussing the things you are learning in open, loving ways. Most of all have fun, enjoy the journey, laugh at your foibles and celebrate success.
Be it at the new year, the beginning of the school term, at the solstices, or anytime throughout the year, taking the time to set goals will help children feel in control of their life and increase their sense of accomplishment.