Beyond Resolutions: Transforming Children From Dreamers to Visionaries

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. ~Michelangelo

As we enter into the new year there is so much hope for the future. Many of us are in the process of beginning our New Year’s resolutions. Optimism is at its peak and we are primed to make changes that will transform our lives. Although this is important, have you also considered the vision your child will be working to fulfill this year? This may sound like an odd question but it may be one of the most important questions you consider for next year. How do you encourage vision and goal setting that will make a lasting impact in the life of your child?

Let me first start by clarifying the difference between dreams and visions. According to Webster’s dictionary, a dream is something you have very much wanted to do, be, or have for a very long time. Dreams are similar to fantasies. They stay in the mind. Visions require plans, commitment and hard work. Visionaries turn dreams into reality.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps that can help your child move from the realm of dreaming to making their visions happen.

1. Dream. Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” said, “Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you’re going.” The first step to making progress is knowing what you would like to do. Discuss and determine some goals that your child would like to accomplish this year. These goals can be categorized in multiple ways such as short-term, long-term, academic, personal, athletic, spiritual, etc.

2. Create a vision board. A vision board is a visual representation of what your child wants to achieve this year. It can be created on paper using visuals cut from magazines or digitally. The finished board should be prominently displayed so your child can be reminded to stay focused on the goals he or she wants to achieve.

3. List the steps. Help your child come up with a list of steps needed to achieve these goals. They may or may not know all of the steps, but writing them down helps to get them into the mindset that work needs to be done in order to achieve these goals. For example, if your child wants to raise his grade in Algebra he would need to, A. Determine the concepts that are unclear, B. Ask his teacher for help, C. Find supplemental resources that will allow him practice skills, D. Find a tutor, etc.

4. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Your child must ask the fundamental question each day, “What am I going to accomplish today, this week, this month?” This sets the agenda. If you don’t know where you are going you won’t know if you have arrived at your desired destination. Help your child develop a roadmap for success. They need to know where they are going or they will get caught up in the minutia of the day. Even worse, they may end up following a totally different agenda.

5. Keep goals manageable and realistic. This will allow your child to stay encouraged along the way. If too much is put on their plate they may become overwhelmed and quit altogether.

6. Identify and eliminate mental blocks. Sometimes children may have internal struggles that may be keeping them from achieving their goals. There could be lack of confidence, fear, feelings of inadequacy, work ethic, low self esteem, etc. Help them identify possible roadblocks and come up with ways to overcome these obstacles that can hold them back.

7. Get it done! – There is a proverb that says, “The appetite of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the appetite of the diligent will be abundantly satisfied.” Make a plan to meet with your child periodically to check progress. Consider discussing goals weekly or monthly. Be flexible because plans and even dreams can change.

8. Celebrate successes along the way. As your child begins to make progress towards fulfilling the vision, celebrate the accomplishments. This can be anything from small treats along the way to publicly praising them.

Vision gives purpose and clarity to dreams. It gives them a reason to wake up in the morning and satisfaction when they lay their heads down at night. As parents we play critical roles in shaping the discipline and habits our children will carry for the rest of their lives. We lay the foundation for developing people who can make a difference in our world.

[Article by David Bailey]

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