Goals are an absolute essential in relation to money and financial responsibility. There can be a lot of discussion regarding goals. Later, kids need to learn about opportunity cost (giving up one thing for something else more important) and refining our goals into SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). We are starting with the basics right now. This is like a brainstorming exercise in goals and an introduction for children. What exactly is a goal and why on earth are they so important? I asked my kids what a goal was and my daughter said it’s what you try to put the ball into when you play basketball or soccer. At first I thought, “Well, I didn't mean that kind of goal,” because I was referring to life goals. Then, before I opened my mouth I realized it’s a great analogy for kids to understand. I explained that the purpose of a game of basketball isn't the dribbling, the passing, or running. In fact, it’s not even taking the shot. It is simply trying to get the ball through the hoop as many times as you can; more than your opponent. All those other things are necessary toward reaching your goals, but if you took away the hoops or nets, we would all be running, passing, and dribbling for no reason. Goals keep you on track and help you do what you really want to do. We decided to make a goal list for the family, especially for the school year since we homeschool, but I said any goal they wanted to write down was just fine. I particularly was looking to teach a bit about goals and learn about what field trips or lessons to plan. I learned a lot about them and I think they learned about themselves too. You could have them write down just some general goals, but expect to help guide them. Unless they are teenagers, I wouldn’t worry about the financial goal idea yet. If they are old enough though, you could use the basketball analogy to tie in goals with their money. If you don’t have a plan with your money, it’s like you are just running around, throwing money at nothing and accomplishing absolutely nothing (ahem- this goes for adults to). Share Some Goals I wrote down some goals of my own and had my husband give me at least five goals. We tried to keep our goals diverse to help the kids do the same. We had goals about things we wanted to learn, do, see (locally), go (further away), and make. Feel free to write down any and all goals but you would probably overwhelm them if you shared them all. If you want to aim for a financial approach, remember that many people are not motivated by having more money sitting in the bank but by the actual use of at least some of that money like a vacation or new home. While I am all for being completely debt free, having a retirement fund, and a large short-term savings, it’s important to be realistic about your motivation. If you were motivated by those alone, you would probably already have all those things. Having fun with goals first can lead to purposeful goals like an ample retirement fund because of the amount of traveling you would like to do when you no longer work. Goal for the Goals I knew my sons would have to be pushed a little or we would be lucky to get five goals. I knew my daughter would write a novel. I gave them a goal for their goals of starting with at least ten. I did emphasize that we would be adding to the list, but we would aim for ten or more, now. I would discourage going any less because at first you will get some very easy, well-known goals. You have to push past those to get to the hidden, creative ones. *I did also tell the children that I wasn’t promising to do all they wrote down. I said some might have to wait until later or they are adults. Enjoy the Discovery I learned one surprising thing at least about each child. My oldest son put down that he wanted to learn more about forces. After a little further discussion, I realized he was talking about aerodynamics because he’s interested in flying planes. Darling daughter wants to learn to surf. I have to say, this one came out of nowhere. If you knew the fancy fairy princess, it would shock you too. My youngest son wants to learn Chinese and guitar. I had no idea about the guitar because we have never thought he was the one interested in music. Also, he had only mentioned Chinese one brief second over a year ago. Encourage Growth Please explain this about goals: they are not binding, you are not setting them in stone. Goals change as we change. Sometimes our likes and dislikes makes a goal undesirable anymore. Then, we must rethink and adjust our list. We can also add to our goals all the time. When you hear them say, “I want to…” help them add that want to their list. This will help them know who they are, what they want in life, and that goals are flexible as well as ever changing. Visit The Tool Shed for a fun printable resource to get your kids started (perhaps you too).