Happy New Year! You’ve had a few days to settle into feeling out 2021 and hopefully you’re settling into the new year nicely. I intentionally saved this blog post for after you were into the year a bit because there is nothing magical about January 1st. Goals and intentions can be set on any day of the year and honestly you should set / adjust goals multiple times through out the year to keep them focused and in front of you.
Why set goals at all? Well, if you don’t know where you want to go, you certainly aren’t going to get there. Sometimes it is nice to just meander through the woods. In fact, I quite enjoy just walking around and seeing what awesome creation God has before me but at some point, I want to get back home. My goal for my meandering is to see creation and eventually get back home. It seems that even though there are plenty of detours and breaks in my day in the woods, I still set an intention, a goal. The same is true for our homeschooling. We take plenty of side trails, rabbit trails and dead end trails through our time but we still have some goals for where we want to be at the end of the week, month, semester and year.
Anyway, off my high horse for why we need goals at all and back to practical doing.
How does setting goals the smart simple way work? You start with the end in mind. Reverse engineering goals isn’t new. In fact, you’ve probably heard it put in several ways but hang with me. When we set homeschool goals we start big. Our big goals include how we want our house to feel while we are schooling, our ideal day, subjects / topics we want to understand by the end of the year and what it looks like to have covered a year of information. Then we chop it up. To get to where we want to be, where do we need to be half way through the year? Where do we need to be by the end of the first quarter? The first month? The first week?
Want an example? Okay, here you are. In our house, we want everyone to spend at least a two and a half hours a week reading something for fun – no curriculum books, no assigned readings, just fun, choice, independent time reading whatever strikes our fancy that day. Our oldest took this goal and obliterated it by October. It was in his wheelhouse. He loves to read and finding him with his nose in a book is just the normal. The other boys, while they are good readers, they would rather be building with Legos, running through the creak or taking apart something that isn’t working to fix it. So for them, we looked at the goal and decided that to get there by the end of school year, they would need to be reading 100 minutes a week just for fun by Christmas. Then we went back further and said by October, they should probably be doing about 75 minutes a week. For this one, we didn’t break it smaller because it isn’t a goal that making tiny divisions is super helpful for. Moving forward from Christmas, they decided to hold at 100 minutes a week in January. Why? They want to maintain where they were for the month because there are so many other new things to be working on right now. I’m cool with that. They are choosing to put other goals first right now but they know they will come back to it. In fact, it is their intention to add 15 minutes a month to their weekly reading goal each month after January which actually has them surpassing our 2.5 hour goal by 10 minutes a week – shhhhhhh, I don’t plan on telling them this until they have done it and then we can celebrate smashing our goals and set a new one.
Staring with the end in mind and backing up to find a mid-point and starting place works for goals for the kids and works for goals for me too. Last year, I set a goal that I would have all of the books, papers and materials for the week prepped before I went to bed on Sunday night. Then I backed it up. By Christmas, I would have Monday and Tuesday of everything and all of the reading and math prepared on Sunday night. By October, on Sunday I would have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday ready for reading and math and Monday ready for everything else. By the end of the first week- so looking into week 2, I would have all of the subjects ready the night before I needed them. Bit by bit I chipped away at my goal. Bit by bit I became the person I wanted to be so that there was less stress and chaos in our home. Bit by bit our weeks became lighter and easier. And because I made the chunks manageable and because I allowed myself to celebrate each and every win as I moved forward – I made it.
We celebrate each accomplishment toward our goals – the big ones and the small ones. Each step is one step closer to where we want to be and that is worth celebrating.
Sitting down and making goals isn’t suppose to be scary or hard. Let it be easy. Let it fit into your life. I certainly wouldn’t recommend writing a goal for every single area of your life or homeschool on one day – that sounds like a recipe for overwhelm. Add them over time. Focus on getting momentum on one goal before adding a new one. Keep it smart. Keep it simple.