By Leo Babauta
Some of you might know that I'm a fan of letting go of goals, or living/working without goals ...
So you might be surprised to know that this week, I decided to encourage my kids to create 2014 goals and a plan for accomplishing those goals.
What gives? Well, I thought I'd use goals as a teaching/learning tool in our little unschooling adventure. I've found goals to be unnecessary for accomplishing things, but I don't believe goals are evil, especially if you use them right. And they can be a useful tool to learn about something.
In this case, I'm helping the kids to learn about achieving things. It can be easy in life, and in unschooling, to let the days pass by without doing anything important or exciting. That's fine if you have a job and are getting a regular paycheck, but if you own your own business or are an unschooler, you don't have that luxury. You can take a few days off, but eventually you're going to have to produce.
And so how do you get motivated to do something good? Well, there are lots of ways. Some possibilities:
- Find a project that excites you and get up each day looking forward to working on it. This is what I do most of the time. You don't need a goal to help you get up and work on something exciting.
- Find a partner to work on something with you. Being accountable to a partner helps you stick to the project.
- Be a part of a team doing something awesome.
- Be a part of an accountability group -- people who are working on different things, but hold each other accountable for what they're doing. This can be a formal group or just your friends checking in on each other.
- Help people. When you have someone to help, it motivates you to do stuff.
- Find inspiration. Surround yourself with inspirational people.
- Declare your goals or habits or project publicly. Report publicly.
- Get motivated by needing to pay the bills. Go out and find clients or customers.
There are other possibilities, but you can see that there's not just one way to get motivated to achieve.
Goals aren't necessary for all of these, but setting and working on goals can teach you about a bunch of them. Once you've learned about how these work, perhaps you can do them without goals if you like. Either way is fine.
So what am I doing with the kids?
Here's what we're doing as a family -- this includes me, Eva, and four kids (ages 17, 14, 9, and 7):
- We reflected on what we did in 2013. This helps us to feel good about what we accomplished, learn about what worked and what didn't, and think about what we'd like to carry on from 2013 to 2014.
- We brainstormed ideas for 2014 goals. The kids didn't always know what they wanted to do, so we helped the two younger ones by throwing out ideas. No bad ideas -- anything is written down. The older kids figured it out on their own, though I did give them a few ideas.
- We picked goals from the brainstorming. I asked the kids, "From this list, what is the one thing that excites you most?" We wrote that thing at the top of a new list. Then repeated the process until they weren't excited about any of the other things. Now we had a list of actual 2014 goals.
- We asked ourselves, "If I were looking back on 2014 a year from now, would I be psyched to have accomplished all of these goals?" If the answer was yes, we had our goals.
- We came up with a plan for achieving the goals. The goals are great, but they don't happen by themselves. Some of the goals are daily activities -- draw every day, or practice Japanese or piano. Others are weekly -- go to yoga class once a week, or sew every Thursday afternoon. Others are big one-off projects, like do a science project or build a warlock kit (not sure what that is, but I'm excited to find out). We wrote down the plan for each of our goals.
- We decided on accountability. So on the 1st of each month, we're going to meet as a family to do a status update on all of our goals. How did we do the previous month? And we have accountability partners that we're going to do a quick check-in with each Friday.
And that's what we did the last two days. I think it'll be good for the kids to learn about all of this, and I'm happy they're excited about what they're doing.
Is this the only way to unschool or learn about achieving? Not at all. But I think it's a fun experiment.
By the way, here are a handful of our goals (not all by one person):
- Make music videos
- Write a novel
- Learn Spanish
- Learn Japanese
- Make one animation clip a month
- Learn piano
- Learn guitar
- Make a warlock kit
- Get cupcake business going (take online orders)
- Do chemistry experiments
- Meditate daily
- Do yoga twice a week
- Journal daily