As I mentioned in my introductory column, this space is dedicated to helping parents raise happy, healthy (in all aspects of health), productive, loving families. To that end, I believe the best place to start is at the beginning, which is to say, LONG before you have a family. Dr. Steven Covey suggests beginning with the end in mind, “Where am I headed? What do I want when I get there?” We are going to use a modification of the process I use with audiences around the country. This column, and certainly its author, have limitations; hence the necessity of modifications.
The questions I pose are more difficult for people to answer than you might think. When I ask audiences how many of them periodically go through this process in a formal way, less than half in the audience will raise their hands. The people who raise their hand are almost always eliminated after the next question, “How many of you write down the results?”
Given the price of gasoline, before starting on a long trip you would probably look at a map, especially if you had not traveled the route before. This goal setting exercise is nothing more than making a map of your life; deciding on a destination, and then planning how to get there. I also suggest you read a bit on the subject; I like Dr. Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.
After reading, reflecting, and answering the first two questions I have posed, take out nine pieces of paper and write one of the following headings at the top of each sheet: Broad or Overall, Spiritual, Service, Family, Physical Fitness, Career/Financial, Education/Self Improvement, Battery Charging/Fun, Mission Statement. If you find one of these headings do not apply to you then replace it with a heading more useful. Keep in mind, spiritual goals do not just mean church, and education is not just formal schooling.
Once you have written down the appropriate headings, write down, in any order, your fondest dreams and wishes for your life. Do not worry about if you think you can achieve them; you CAN, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The most important part of the process maybe what you DON’T do. Do not listen to those that would tell you that you are wasting your time or that your work will not bear fruit. Sometimes people we know and love tell us such things because they have been hurt or disappointed in the past, and in wishing to spare you their pain will try to discourage you from taking a chance; and sometimes people are just jealous, petty, and mean.
After you have completed this part of the process, I want you to set these papers aside for now; we are going to revisit them in our next column.
You might be tempted to skip one or more of the steps I have just outlined. DON’T! This process can be difficult and require a faith you are not sure you have; however, the reward for the process is the first step toward a life of success in all you choose to do.