Allowing Your Children to Become: Goals

Let your children see you work toward the achievement of goals.

Teach them the benefits and skills of goal setting and of goal accomplishment.

I haven’t always been a “goal writer”. I teach goals setting almost every day of my life –now. But–I must admit–I haven’t always been as committed to the process as I am now. In order to become committed to a process–one has to see great results.

Well, I must tell you that once I clearly understood the benefits of goal accomplishment and once I clearly understood how to apply the process to my spiritual, family, personal, and business life, I’m committed to the process. Have I received positive results? Yes. Have I grown personally and professionally as a result of applying the principles of goal accomplishment to my life? Yes. Would I ever stop writing and working toward the accomplishment of worthwhile goals? No. It is as much a part of my life as eating. (Well, maybe not quite as important!!!)

Goal Setting: Why?

Through study with great teachers, extensive study, and practice, I havelearned a lesson of life that is probably the greatest business truth I have ever learned. It was–and is–the core of my personal success and has been the core of the success of my husband, children, employees, and clients.

What is that “hard core business truth”? That developing a clear vision–a clarity of purpose and backing that up with a strategic plan of action–called goal setting/goal accomplishment–is the foundational principle upon which all success is built.

John and I are practitioners of goal setting and have shared that process of goal accomplishment with our dental team, our team at Jameson Management, our clients, and perhaps most importantly, with our children.

When we first started teaching our children about goal setting and sat down together to do goal setting, they teased us for our enthusiasm over something so “off the wall”!!! But, through the years, both Brett and Carrie have been committed to writing their goals, designing a plan of action with the intention of accomplishing those goals, and have kept themselves on course through the thick and the thin.

The kids set their own goals and we set goals as a family. All of us were very clear about what those goals were because we reviewed them periodically. We shared in the accomplishment of goals–whether the goal was a family goal or the goal of an individual member of the family.

All of us have been very successful in our endeavors–whether in business or in school. We have worked hard. We have had trials and tribulations. We have overcome each obstacle and have learned in the process. We have rejoiced with each other in the accomplishment of each and every goal–large and small. Celebrate the accomplishment of a goal—or even when a step has been taken toward that goal. Instead of one of the kids being jealous because the other one “got something” or instead of one of the kids thinking “Mom and Dad like you better than me!” they know that we rejoice in each accomplishment–and that one is not greater than another.

In addition, the kids have been so consistently reinforced for work well done and for accomplishments, they have ingrained that process into their own lives and do the same for each other and for other people in their own lives. They are not only good friends with each other, they go out of their way to congratulate each other, support each other, listen to each other, be there for each other in tough times. They are, now, putting into action in their own lives, their own businesses, and their own families the concepts that were a part of their “growing up” years.

As parents, we are happy to note that both of our kids are quick and ready to compliment their own kids and their business colleagues. They do not “brag” on themselves for an accomplishment–but rather give credit to others for their part in a project. They “catch themselves doing something right” and acknowledge that internally and they are confident enough to “catch other people doing something right” and give that acknowledgement. Therefore, they have learned a key principle of leadership: a great leader provides positive reinforcement for members of the organization—and for members of the family.

I am thoroughly convinced that if more kids understood the principles and the benefits of goal accomplishment that fewer kids would be running around out there with no direction whatsoever. It sounds easy. Write a goal. But it isn’t. Not only does it take a commitment to a process. It takes an intention–a direction–an expectation–an expectation of self.


Brett broke his leg when he was eight years old. He was a junior wrestler and broke his femur during a wrestling match one Saturday morning. John was with him–but I was at the ranch attending to the horses and to Carrie who was only four at the time.

I will never forget that horrible call from John telling me that Brett had broken his leg and that they were at a nearby hospital waiting on the orthopedic surgeon to come and set it. I made my way to the hospital as quickly as possible (It was about 45 minutes from the ranch) and arrived at about the same time as the orthopedic surgeon.

I stood outside Brett’s room as they manipulated the broken leg and cried much more than he did!!! Do mothers always hurt more than the kid? I think so.

For weeks, Brett lay in traction. The bone in the leg had been displaced and , thus, he had to be in traction for many weeks until the bone aligned itself to the point where he could be cast. I slept on a cot in his hospital room. Since I am a teacher by certification, I was able to be his home bound teacher. The teachers in the Davis Public School system were great. Every day they would prepare his lesson plans, gather the necessary materials, and send them to the hospital with John or his mother (who was a teacher at Davis at that time).

Every day, Brett and I would have a routine we would follow: breakfast (the nurses would bring me coffee to wake me from my glorious sleep on the cot!!!), bath, school lessons, lunch, TV, dinner, friends, guests, TV, sleep. Even though he was only 8 years old, he handled the problem like a trooper. He never complained–not once. He knew what had to be done–and he did it.

Twice a day, the orthopedic surgeon came to his room for an examination, conversation, and update. This incredible man, Dr. Jack Howard, became Brett’s hero, mentor, and inspiration. It was not only his expertise in the area of orthopedics that inspired Brett to pursue that field of medicine, it was also his devotion to his patients, his love for his work and for the people, and his commitment to serving–and serving with an unbelievable level of integrity.

At the age of 8, Brett set a goal to be an orthopedic surgeon. He has never wavered from that goal. It has been a guiding light for him. He has known what he wanted and has known what he would have to do to make that happen.

After Brett’s freshman year at Oklahoma State University, where he majored in pre-med, he made the following comment to me:

“Mom, you know, I have been amazed at how many kids don’t have any clue what they are going to do with their lives. They come here to school and have no direction whatsoever. They mess around, goof off, can’t make decisions. They waste their time and their parent’s money. They don’t have much maturity and they don’t have any confidence in themselves.

I didn’t know it, but all this time, you and Dad were teaching me to make decisions. You let me make decisions–and then learn from them–even if I made a mistake. When I become a parent, someday, I want to come and take lessons from you.”

Wow!! What a compliment. The greatest thing a kid could ever say to a parent. I told Brett that, actually, he had already had the lesson. He had learned from us by example. But, he would take the things that we did well–and he would do the same. The things that we didn’t do so well–and we made lots of mistakes–that he would do better. That’s what evolution is all about.

And so, here is this kid who wants to be an orthopedic surgeon. Did he set goals? Yes. Did he set long term and short term goals? Yes. Has he accomplished every goal he ever set? Yes, if it was a goal he truly wanted and one that he had a strong desire to accomplish. You see, each goal must have a strong impetus behind it–a strong impetus called desire. If you want something badly enough you will work hard to get it. If you don’t want it badly enough, other things will take away from your focus and your energy.