In 2 previous articles, we discussed 6 “evergreen” strategies to help children become excellent, self-confident adults that would be able to contribute positively to their future spheres of influence. In this article, we will share 3 more strategies for parents, teachers, grandparents, coaches and mentors to incorporate into their plans as they help children develop into healthy young adults.
Strategy #7 – 1 Goal per day – 5 Goals per week
Kids need to learn the simple discipline of setting valid goals and reaching them on a daily and weekly basis. Kids who learn the discipline of goal setting, tracking and achievement can carry this skill into adulthood and become better leaders. The easiest way to get them started, and empowering their sense of self-accomplishment is to start with 1 goal per day.
This daily goal should be relevant, challenging and age-appropriate. It should not take all day or even several hours to accomplish. A general rule of thumb is that children’s attention span in minutes is similar to their age in years. Giving a 6 year old a simple goal that takes 6 minutes or less to accomplish might be appropriate. Giving a 15 year old a goal that takes longer, in the 15 to 20 minute range, would also be appropriate. As long as the goals are age-appropriate, they can experience success in goal setting and achievement. The principles here are that they are learning to take initiative, realize they have the power to choose and set the direction for their daily lives, and are experiencing small but significant successes early in life.
According to Tim Scholten, success coach and author of “The Focus5 Advantage” and the Focus5 App (a leading productivity app), ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results and personal breakthrough by starting with just 5 goals or steps per week. He has helped countless individuals and teams achieve best-in-the-nation results by using this simple Focus5 process, as he reports in his book. By prioritizing and tackling 5 tasks per week that are aligned with your goals, Tim says that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results because they are making daily, visible progress toward their goals. The people and business teams he has coached have been amazed at the progress they make in a week, a month or a quarter by applying the principles of Focus5.
“When people write their goals down they improve their chances by 3 times. When they employ accountability for these same goals, they improve their chances of success up to 10 times,” says Scholten. “Most people don’t reach their true potential and see their goals realized because they think the task is too big, so they do nothing. By starting with 5 steps per week, which equals 1 per day, ordinary people can gain momentum, personal belief, self-confidence, and see faster results, which encourages them to keep going. Pretty soon, they accomplish much more than what they believed possible by simply taking 1 step per day. After that, they realize they can accomplish more and they add to their goals. When they apply goal tracking and accountability, their results go off the charts! People who do this consistently reach the top 5% or better in their industry or profession because these success principles are Universal disciplines. Anyone can leverage them to break through personal barriers and reach their highest potential.”
This principle of setting 5 goals per week is completely applicable to children and teens. Teaching them the disciplines of success, tracking, accountability and goal setting early in life will help them be more mature and have better character development for the challenges they will face as adults. The earlier they can develop these success habits, the more these success disciplines will be a part of their natural fabric, giving them much better chances for success as adults.
Strategy #8- Eat the Frog principle for kids – doing the tough stuff first
Brian Tracy wrote a best-selling book, “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” The main idea behind the phrase “Eat that frog” is that after listing one’s tasks and goals, they develop the discipline to tackle the tough and ugly tasks first. There are many psychological advantages of tackling your tougher items earlier in the day and week and not procrastinating.
When we put off the tougher items in our task lists, we add to the psychological weight and burden of the task, adding to our personal stress and draining our energy for other tasks. When we tackle it early and fast, we lighten our psychological load, feel better about ourselves and are more energized to do other, easier tasks as they are less cumbersome or difficult.
Teaching kids the discipline of “eating the frog” will help them to grow in self-confidence while developing quality leadership skills by reducing procrastination and improving their performance and ability to tackle challenges that life will always drop on their path.
Children who learn to avoid difficulties their entire life and to procrastinate confronting them will find it more difficult to adjust to the twists and turns that life throws at them. Children who learn to take challenges head on will develop confidence more quickly, leadership skills more effectively, and they will also look at difficulties and challenges as opportunities versus setbacks.
Strategy #9 – Just Get Started
There is a success principle that many leading business owners and coaches live by. . . “take action”.
While the rest of the crowd stays stuck in making decisions, planning, and editing minute details of a plan, many leaders say they will take decisive action sooner in the decision-making process, with less information. Granted, they may make more mistakes than those who are more detail-oriented and tend to fuss over small details of plans and strategies, but more often than not, they learn to take decisive action sooner and become very skilled at making the right decision with less available information and details. In addition, they often have more confidence in their ability to make corrections along the way and are able to lead others through those corrections to a successful end.
By doing this, the “take action” people win the sale or the business more often than those who get stuck investing too much time over the details. They would rather get in front and take the lead, then figure out how to tackle problems and adjust as needed. If you sense that you are working with a child who hesitates and strains over details, and always seems to get out of the starting gates slower than others, you can try another strategy, which is the opposite of “eat that frog”.
For some children and teens who have a hard time taking action, it is better to start them with the smaller, easier, but just as important tasks in the beginning of the day. It is also good for adults to use this strategy when they are not feeling motivated, are feeling mentally foggy or a bit tired at the beginning of the day.
It can be compared to the snowball effect. Start with something small and manageable and help the child get some quick and early successes. Sometimes, having a few quick victories or accomplishments checked off of the task list for the day can help spark a little sense of accomplishment and begin their success momentum. Once they have broken their static inertia (being idle) and begin accomplishing things, they are primed to take on bigger tasks. Their mood begins to improve, their mental fog, if any, begins to lift, and they are moving forward versus being indecisive.
Some days it is best to “eat that frog”, but on others, it is better to eat a few pieces of cake first! A little sweet taste of victory and accomplishment is often enough to give someone the energy, focus and confidence to tackle the bigger, more complex tasks that they know lies ahead in their day. As children continue to grow in their self-management skills and awareness, they will become better at starting out their day with the right type of task. They learn to become more successful each day by starting the day with the appropriate task, whether it be a small piece of cake or a big ugly frog.
For example, when learning how to play a musical instrument, such as a guitar, it can be daunting for anyone, let alone a child. In order for a child to become the best beginner guitar player they can become, it is often best to start them with very simple and quick successes, like playing simple notes, or playing chords that only require 1 or 2 finger positions. When they learn to be successful very early, and can have a lot of fun, they are more likely to stick with the instrument as they grow and begin to learn more advanced chords, scales and other complicated techniques. One would not begin teaching a child how to play a complex chord or classical masterpiece. In this case, they would not “eat that frog” for a long time. When the child becomes a more intermediate or advanced player, and their commitment is beyond the point where they will become discouraged and quit, they can be asked to tackle more complicated skills and techniques. Their sense of learning the instrument and overcoming challenges is much stronger because they have experienced multiple instances of success. They believe they will be able to figure out more difficult techniques because they have a long history of success with the instrument, and they have developed a much stronger self-confidence.
In all, the skills and strategies shared in this 3-part series are based on decades of success and talent development research that has been proven to work for individuals and teams across multiple socio – economic statuses, countries, languages and age ranges, as well as other factors. In other words, regardless of where a person is in life, they have the ability to learn and grow, or to settle in mediocrity with their comfortable excuses. Each day is an opportunity to grow and improve, and the choice is up to the individual child.
Success and goal achievement strategies that are “evergreen” can always be discovered, learned, developed, practiced and mastered. As parents, teachers, coaches and mentors, our job is to give the young ones in our lives the best chances for success in a disciplined yet very loving environment. When we do this, we will have fulfilled our roles and our mission to create a better society in the future for all of our children.
About the author: Aaron Schulman is a proud husband and father of 3 girls. He and his wife enjoy teaching and loving their girls and believe their primary goal in life is to help their children become successful, caring, responsible, servant-hearted adults. Aaron works as a full-time Internet publisher and consultant, helping businesses with their content strategy and marketing funnels by providing complete strategies, email marketing reviews and much more. He also enjoys composing music, golf, cooking with his wife and kids, and writing for parents and kids.