Goal setting is an amazing but underused tool. How many homeschool moms actually set goals for themselves and their families? I’m not talking about goals like, “finish the math book by the end of May.” I’m talking about real goals. Do you know WHY your homeschooling? Do you know what you want your children BE LIKE when they’re finished being homeschooled? Do you know what you want YOU to be like when they are finished homeshooling? These are important questions that we often fail to ask. Here’s the truth. If you don’t ask and answer these questions you may not achieve the best results that God has for you and your family. Sure you’ll make them finish workbooks, but will they get out of the homeschool experience the best you have to offer. Sure you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing it over, but at what cost? Will you be proud of what you have actually accomplished or will you just be relieved that you actually survived?
Set your goals! Take some time to look at the big picture. Look at your children, your spouse, your spiritual life, and your educational or occupational goals. Look at your friendships and your children’s friendships. Look at your marriage, and those marriages around you that you admire. What do you like about these things? What do you not like? What can you change? Now look at your Bible. What does the Holy Scripture say about your character, or your children’s character? What does the Bible call you as a parent to be like? What does it say about being a husband or wife? Lastly, pray. Pray for guidance. Pray for inspiration. Pray for God’s best.
Many of us are homeschooling our children in the first place because we take VERY seriously the mandate given by the Lord to be responsible for the education of our children. There are so many places in scripture that “bringing their children up in the way of the Lord” was an issue. Often it was mentioned because the Israelites did not do it. Every time they did not do it, there were dire consequences. In Genesis 18:19, the Lord’s reason for choosing to bless the entire world through Abram was explained, “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Abraham was chosen BECAUSE of his faith. He was chosen SO he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord. God had a job for Abraham, as a father and leader. He needed to “homeschool” his entire household. He has the same job for each of us. We are to direct our children and our household after us to keep the way of the Lord.
Now we still have just a vague idea of what we are doing and why, but that’s not a goal. Our goal needs to be SMART. It’s an acronym that I find fun and helpful.
|Specific||It needs to be unique to you. It can’t be somebody else’s goal for you. You spouse, your pastor, your mentor, your parents can all contribute advice but they cannot dictate your goals. The only way to make your goal attainable for you is for you to make your own goal. My young friend is an amazing lady and she has a goal to be a published writer. I would love to be like my young friend in so many ways but I cannot take on her goal to be a published writer just because I admire her and want to make her goals mine.|
|Measurable||Ideas lead to goals but they are not goals in and of themselves. Goals must be concrete. You must be able to count something or compare something to see if the goal has been met. Getting in shape is a good objective but it isn’t a goal. Enrolling in & completing the Danskin Triathlon (1/2 Mile Swim, 12 Mile Bike, 3.1 Mile Run) by May of 2011 is a specific, measurable goal.|
|Attainable||This goal must be reasonable. Goals that require hard work are difficult to meet but not impossible. Hard work is commendable. But there are some goals which some of us cannot meet. I get nauseated at the site of blood or mere mention of certain body processes, so becoming a medical professional is not an attainable goal for me. With a great deal of hard work and study, I could obtain a PhD.|
|Relevant||You goal must mean something to you. You have values. You have priorities. Your goal must reflect these things. You goal will only be attainable if you have no conflict between your goal and your priorities. I love the Lord and wish to honor him in everything I do. A goal to be so rich that I can sit around and do nothing would not honor the Lord. A goal to have enough money to support my family and bless a ministry which is really serving the kingdom of God would.|
|Time-specific||Like making your goal measurable, your final “schedule” for your goal must be specific as well. You must assign time constraints to your goal. A goal of reading through the Bible is concrete enough but you really need to add a time frame. I will read through the Bible in one calendar year is a good goal.|
Now finally let’s look at what we will include in the goal. You goal must include your spiritual life, your family life, your work life, and your educational life, which includes homeschooling and personal education. Make clear statements which include all of these. Don’t leave out any of them. While some things are more important than others, these are all very important. When you make goals for your family life and your homeschooling, include what you want their character to develop into by the time they are adults.
Don’t ever forget the season of life you are blessed to experience at the moment. If you have young children revel in the chaotic excitement which surrounds you. If you have teenagers, enjoy building friendships with these young brothers or sisters in the Lord who are living with you. Always remember that motherhood is the most important job in the world so make sure that mothering your children is always reflected in your goals. If you need to get some education yourself in order to accomplish this, set a goal. If you need to change your fitness level to accomplish this, set a goal. If you need to cut back on outside commitments to accomplish this, set a goal.
Having clearly defined goals brings clarity to what we are doing. It brings purpose to our daily activities. It brings motivation to complete unwanted tasks. Whether you’re just starting to homeschool or you’ve been doing it for years without goals try setting some now. You will find your days running smoother with few doubts about your own competency. You will find better explanations for those curious students who always seem to NEED to know why you’re doing anything. You’ll find that you are blessed.