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What's Next? - Issue 327
December 28, 2013
Hi there! ....

Well, Christmas has come and gone - We had a fun day as a family and then enjoyed a houseful of friends in the evening. Boxing Day is usually spent watching the cricket in our house but this year we had a lovely reprieve as we did a girl/boy split with friends; all the boys at their house watching cricket and playing backyard cricket during the breaks, and all the girls here watching a few movies, and keeping our hands busy with different creative projects. It was a lovely day, and one our family hopes to repeat next year!

This week is a holiday week for us and even more lovely cause it has been overcast and drizzly for days so the weather is just lovely. We love a wet Christmas (tropical wet isn't cold).

Live life with your kids!

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What's Next?

As soon as Christmas is over people start thinking about the new year – we certainly have in our family. What’s next? What’s next year going to look like? What are your plans?

The turning over of the new year brings a flurry of new year’s resolutions – which we know, in our heart of hearts, we are not going to achieve! New Year’s resolutions are generally emotional decisions based on a guilt that we didn’t do enough in the year past, that we missed opportunities, and lacked self-control. Though I believe in assessing how we went, and where we didn’t do so well, I also believe in acknowledging extenuating circumstances that influenced and changed your direction, as well as focusing on the things that did go well, the things that you did achieve, areas you did grow in, and opportunities you ran with.

This way of thinking is more in keeping with setting goals. Mind you, setting goals can be equally immobilising and pointless, unless we use them and keep them active. We are probably familiar with the concept of setting SMART goals; it is a business quip that has been around for many years (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, time bound). Do a Google-search on images for SMART Goals, and you’ll find a few variations, all with some valid tweaks. As I scrolled through all those charts and ideas I started to formulate what will help me with my goal setting this year. It may be different for you – but here are the prompts I’ll be working with:

Specific – What my goal is (be precise)
Meaningful – The reason why this goal is important
Action based – What actions need to be taken – break it down
Realistic – Have I considered this goal in terms of the other goals I have
Time bound – When I want to achieve this by.

There are a few reasons goal setting often fails :

  • We are too vague
  • we set too many goals
  • our goals are driven by guilt not vision
  • we give up when life throws a curve ball

In light of this we must Review & Revise – We cannot know what lies ahead, and as a mother, my goals are closely intertwined with my family, even my own personal goals will be affected by family life. If I start out knowing that to be the case, I can be more realistic in setting the goals and more flexible throughout the year. Being flexible doesn’t mean we wipe the goals all together and just wing it for the rest of the year, but rather, we review and reset goals in light of new information. This is such an important part of setting goals I think we should all set a few dates in our calendar so we are reminded to look at our goals again. Waiting till next New Year’s Eve will be a sure-fire way of letting our goals slip into oblivion. I set aside a day in our ‘study break’ (school holidays) to review goals – look back/look forward.

How to set a goal? I personally find it hard to set goals, it is something that I have intentionally taught myself, or disciplined myself to do. I would much rather live by my emotions (like many people orientated, arty people do!) and do whatever I feel like. I smile as I see these things in my daughter – but I know, and I hope to teach her, that if you want to achieve things in life, sometimes you have to overcome your natural tendencies!

Some people find it easy to set long term goals, but if you can’t get to that point, just look at the immediate. What is on your heart for now? If you can envisage life in 5 years time, start there and break it down to yearly, 6 monthly, monthly goals to get you to the bigger goal.

We have set a family vision statement, or identity statement – these are the things that we want to be in our lives, so each year we can review those things, see how we are going, set new goals or tweak old goals to keep us on track in the things that are important to our family.

Another prompt that we have talked about with our kids this year has come from Do Hard Things by Brett and Alex Harris, to grow in the areas of Character, Competence and Collaboration. Another way at looking at those headings is: Relationships, Skills, and Community.

The framework that I used to set goals for my kids in years past has been: Relationships (God, Family, Friends), Intrapersonal growth, Responsibilities, Talents, Academics (see more about these headings on my website). This is a way of looking at the different spheres of life – your spheres may be different. You may want to look at Family life and relationships, Education/Career, Financial, Social, Community, Sport/Health, Creative outlets etc…

Though I am reluctant to set goals based on guilt reality is disappointment, discontent, frustration are elements that motivate us to change. This can be a good thing – but this is the reason why I selected “Meaningful” as my second prompt in SMART goal setting. We need to take these emotional responses and look for the objective goal not the emotional response to negative feelings.

Over the last few years I’ve chosen ‘one word’ or a theme for myself to think and ponder about throughout the year. In a sense it doesn’t really fit the SMART goal idea because it is pretty vague, and has no real substance. For example, this year, 2013 my word was “Shake it up” and this directed lots of activity in our year, this year my theme is going to be “learn new things”. This is more an attitude towards the year, rather than a specific goal, but I mention it here as another thing for you to think about as it may work for you.

Work on it - You could take any one of these ideas and use that as the framework for brainstorming goals for you and your family for the coming year. Or you could brainstorm each of these prompts and then combine and see if you have a common thread. This is a process that Pete and I have gone through several times – you brainstorm from various angles, and then see if you can combine any ideas to simplify and clarify your thinking.

Over the last few weeks we have had a couple of dinner time conversations with our kids about things that they would like to do or achieve in the coming year, we haven’t asked for specific goals but rather just tossing ideas around. Not only did we get to hear our kids’ heart and ideas, the kids had the opportunity to hear each other as well which means, not only are we, the parents, working with our kids, but they are working with each other; supporting and encouraging each other in their endeavours. So if you have older children, let me encourage you to not only include them in your thinking and planning, but do it as a family.

If all this is too hard, too overwhelming, then a good place to start is a good review on last year. Be honest, but be generous with yourself as well. Take any one of the categories I’ve suggested for goal setting and reflect back on last year and see what happened and convert that into last year’s goals (retrospective goal setting!) This will get you into a realistic frame of mind as you see your family for what it really is: it really is a family with 4 little kids, it really is a family with teens and young adults going in every which direction, it really is a family where dad works away from home, it really is a family that deals with sickness, it really is a family that is dealing with certain issues. All of these things shape our family as much as working on goals will. It is easy to focus on goals or resolutions at this time of year that are completely disconnected with reality. It is also easy to think that you have to have 10 goals for the year. This is not where it is at – set one goal, set three goals, set more or less – the number doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we sit down, reflect and consider where we are going and be intentional about living next year.

To summarise:

Live life with your kids! Intentionally!

During the week I blog at
Live Life with Your Kids! I've been pretty quiet on my blog lately - it will pick up soon.

Or maybe you'd like to read something from my website:

  • Christmas Debrief Taking a moment to consider how your Christmas celebrations went this year will give you a kick start for next year. My Christmas Debrief helps sort out what went well and what didn’t.

Check out other homeschool and parenting issues over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool

My Bookshop

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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