In this my 33rd year, I have achieved some of my childhood dreams that just a few short years ago would have seemed impossible. I am marrying my best friend, my soul mate, an awesome guy. I went back to school and actually forsee finishing this time. I had an awesome year working with my "kids" at work, seeing progress, learning together. I just bought my childhood dream car, a Jeep Wrangler! (ok, as i child I did not envision it having 4 doors, but as a mother I see the practicality in that) I finally feel that I am back on track both personally and professionally. I have learned some lessons along the way. Lessons I hope to share with my own children (both biological and the ones I borrow from year to year from the parents around town :) )
I will be the first to admit, my life has taken many twists and turns that I had sworn I would never make. I swore I would never put my children through a divorce. I swore I would never quit something once I started it (grad school). I swore I would always make sound choices both professionally and personally. While thse lofty oaths were admirable they were unrealistic. I have learned not to swear to an oath anymore (however righteous or admirable it may be) but rather set and work towards goals instead. Setting and working towards goals allows for flexibility in the path to achieving them. It requires you to process check and adjust when necessary. Swearing to an oath does not allow this flexibility therefore setting you up for failure from the get go.
Last September, my class and I set goals and displayed them in the hallway. Each student was asked to set a goal for learning, for personal growth, and for fun. We had a brainstorming session on how to set goals and created lists of example goals. I really think they did an great job and many of my students saw their goals through to achievement. This year, I plan on taking it a step further and having my students progress monitor themselves quarterly on where they stand in regards to thier goals. I realized this is the missing step that needs to take place. It is the difference between dreaming big and achieving big. A dream is cast out almost wistfully whereas a goal needs to be set, coaxed, finessed, and often reworked to see success.
An example of this is my new car. It was a childhood dream of mine to own a jeep. I cast it out there and let it flounder on its own for years. I did nothing to work towards actually achieving it. In fact, by not cultivating it and actually setting a goal with a plan to achieve it, I actually took myself further and further away from ever realizing this dream. Meeting my fiance and learning many life lessons over the past few years has taught me that if you want something you need to set a goal, develop a plan, and see it through to actually get it. Eric and I began talking about getting this car a few months ago. We set a plan to see if a budget allowing for a second car payment would work, researched what we really needed vs. what we really wanted, and readjusted when necessary (did we really need all the bells and whistles or could we spare a few and save a bundle?)
Going through this whole process we learned alot about each others style for saving, spending, and planning. Setting goals and learning the process to achieve them is something we both feel we missed out on learning. It is not something that was inherently taught to us as children. It's one of those things that was assumed you learned. How many of you remember being asked what is your life goal as a high school student? Did anyone ever sit you down and help you create a plan allowing for process check points or times to reevaluate that goal? My guess is no. My goal is to teach goal setting this year. To walk my students through the entire process. From choosing a realistic yet challenging goal, setting a path, process checking progress, and hopefully the actualization of their success. It needs to be taught and modeled for it is not something that just happens. The dream of being a professional athlete, singer, actress (my classes favorite career choices) does not just happen. I'm not saying it can't happen, but it takes work, setting goals, creating a path, and even more support to achieve than todays young children think. So my goal is to teach them to dream big and set challenging goals that will get you there, but not to be afraid to adjust when necessary.