SMART Yaks, and other tips for a better year

by Kathy Kuhl

Yaks aren’t known for great intelligence. But smart, rational yaks are my new reminders for better goal-setting in 2015.

Because running a home takes serious commitment (even if you don’t have a child with exceptional needs), I’ve been gleaning from business leaders to see what goal-setting tools parents can use to help their children succeed.

First, our goals for our kids should be SMART. (Many have written on this; I like Michael Hyatt’s summary here.) SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific: Saying “I want my child to learn addition” is a vague goal for 2015. If you mean, memorize their addition facts, say so. But perhaps you meant two-digit addition with regrouping, or adding fractions. Be specific.
  • Measurable: You wouldn’t say your child had mastered spelling for ever if he got all ten words right on a spelling quiz one day.
    What’s your goal? 95% accuracy from a standard spelling list at his grade level? Maybe, given his learning disabilities, reaching 85% from a lower grade level would be great progress. Think about it, and set a goal. (You can change it later if you need to.)
  • Actionable Active: Actionable is an awkward excuse for a word; let’s say Active instead. Goals should use action verbs. Don’t aim for your child to just “Be more punctual.” Don’t you want her to “Be dressed and ready on time for music lessons, soccer, and church, with her gear packed”?
  • Realistic: I wanted my fifth grader to master long division, but since he still struggled with simple division and subtraction, I knew he needed some support. Don’t provoke your children by setting impossible goals. We all want our kids to excel, but for some kids, a C is a great and realistic goal.
  • Time bound: Set goals you can meet this spring, and goals you have a good change of reaching by the end of May—or whenever seems reasonable for your child and your family.

Second, to make your resolutions more powerful, list the reasons (the rationale) why you are setting these goals. In his ebook, Set Yourself Up for Your Best Year Ever, Michael Hyatt quotes Lewis Howes, “I set myself up to win by setting a clear vision for what I want to accomplish this coming year and why I want to accomplish it.” Hyatt has pointed out in his podcasts that making notes of your rationale for wanting something can help when rekindle your motivation.

You can engage yourself and your kids with these motivators. Say to your teen, “You want to develop computer games, right? You need these math classes and this logic course to take the computer science classes you need.” Or “You want to be a mother/athlete? You’ve got to learn about nutrition to keep your family healthier/to give your best performance.”

Third, yaks. Seth Godin writes a pithy blog, in which he explained a useful, fun computer geek term: “Yak shaving.”

Ever started to do one job, realized you needed to first something else first, which required a trip to the store, a phone call, and took you down six other rabbit trails. You find yourself at the zoo, shaving a yak when you were supposed to be planning the science fair. Yak shaving can be especially tempting for those of us who are easily distracted. What was I supposed to be doing? How did I spend 45 minutes on this other thing?

Read Seth’s short blog here. Don’t shave that yak.

So even those we aren’t CEOs (not most of us), the business leaders’ tips can help us at home with our kids.

My biggest goal for next month is launching my new book, Encouraging Your Child. Make sure you are getting my newsletter to learn about bonuses for those who purchase it the day it comes out.

What goals are you setting for 2015? Please share in the comments below.

Wishing you a 2015 free of yak-shaving!

Kathy Kuhl

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