Begin Goals with Children and Youth

Begin Goals with Children and Youth

Hi, Welcome to Goals With Kids, I’m LeAnn Hunt and this is our first blog about the Children and Youth Initiative coming from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We’ve all got to start somewhere. I’m starting with podcast number one April 5th. The day before General Conference 2019. We’re right in the middle of all these changes. Remember 2 hour church change to support home centered gospel learning? That was just 4 months ago for me. Remember home teaching changing to ministering? That was last year. Missionaries calling home and wearing pants, new temple language, the reversal of some LGBT policies, the way we use the name of the church, 11 year old deacons and beehives and YM and YW changing together as classes. So many things have changed. I can’t wait to hear what changes tomorrow during April Conference. We could discuss for hours how all of the changes are combining to create this one great unified whole. It’s amazing to watch it unfold. 

So why am I starting with this piece of history and grounding you in the past when you will be listening to this far in the future? Because I want you to know I’m starting this Goals Podcast 9 months before the January 2020 Rollout of home-centered goal setting. How do I know that’s going to happen? Because they announced it. Remember the big “scouting is going away” announcement? That’s when they also announced the Children and Youth Development Initiative. It immediately got a website and everything. Childrenandyouth.lds.org (or as the new tech is in the middle of rolling out – it will be childrenandyouth.churchofjesuschrist.org). 

I have paid close attention to the announcements as they gradually add more and more info to the website because I serve in my Stake Young Women presidency and I was responsible to train our wards on how to plan activities with a purpose. As I researched – I found the cool activity planning tools on youth.lds.org that no one seems to know about or use. Then I found the Teacher and Priest version of the activity planning tools and realized they were different and focused on setting goals and planning activities for Spiritual Social Physical and Intellectual activities. To make a long story short – I got very very interested in goals and this 2020 rollout. I teamed up with my daughter, who is a brilliant award winning author, and set out to write Goals With Kids – a book to support parents in home-centered goal setting. We’re in the middle of writing it now. We are meeting with Deseret Book and Covenant Communications in May and are hoping and praying that one of them will publish it! If not – plan C and we will do it ourselves because we believe in Goals With Kids and are so excited to launch it January 2020. 

We’ve all got to start somewhere. I started with this podcast #1 that you’re listening to now. You’ve got to start somewhere too. I started without knowing the end from the beginning. I just acted. I was brave and vulnerable and I might be guessing wrong about what’s going to happen in January 2020. I don’t know what the initiative is going to look like; only 4 pilot stakes in the world do right now, but I’m willing to take that risk because true principles are true principles no matter what. These principles in this podcast and in the book and whatever else we create around Goals With Kids are true principles. They will work and make a difference. They are grounded in the gospel and they are grounded in research.

I love how Joy Jones, the General Primary President said it – BEGIN. That’s her whole first sentence in her video on the childrenandyouth.lds.org website – BEGIN. As a parent, how can I build a gospel centered home? Begin. I loved her message -BEGIN. Just begin in the simplest way. 

I began. You can too. In business they call it an action bias. In research on hope in goal-directed pursuits, Snyder calls it agency. I call it a single step of faith. A few years ago I spent an entire semester unpacking faith with 90 women (and occasionally a few men) in our adult institute class from Lectures on Faith. We learned that Faith is a principle of action. Sitting their holding your breath is not faith, that’s waiting. Joseph Smith taught that faith, in order to actually be faith, is a principle of action, otherwise it’s something else. So BEGIN is great advice. To BEGIN is to exercise faith. It really doesn’t matter which step you take. Start small. Start simple. Take a step of faith into the dark and begin. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. None of us do. The end is not guaranteed. However Faith is also a principle of promise. The promise of power and of change.

Here’s how we like to look at it at Goals With Kids. 

Goals get you from A to B.

But B, the outcome is not guaranteed. So why bother then? Why bother going for a goal, or acting with faith, if the outcome is not guaranteed. Even Shamrock, Meeshack, and Abednego while they were standing in front of the fiery furnace didn’t know what the outcome of their faith would be. They said their God would deliver them, BUT IF NOT, they would have faith anyway. BUT IF NOT – those are really powerful words. What they mean is I can have faith no matter what the outcome is. I am willing to take action no matter what happens. We can’t predict outcomes with Faith, but we do know that Faith provides assurances. God assures us that if we act with Faith things will change. Not right away. And Not in any predictable way. But they will change.

So Goals get you from A to B. AND B is not guaranteed. So Why do a goals loop? Wait – there’s a new term. What’s a goals loop? You might explain a goals loop to your child or youth like this: First you choose a goal. Make it specific – could you make a movie of someone doing this action? Do you need a reminder? Do you need a way to track it? Then off they go to do (or not do as the case may be) the goal. Then later they come back and you evaluate the goal. What went well? Why do you think that part went well? What didn’t go well? What did you learn? Then you get to decide – do you want to choose the goal again, change it in some way, or say goodbye and let it go? And all this happens inside goals conversations between parents and kids. That’s a goals loop. In Goals With Kids we celebrate every time we finish a loop! Doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail at the goal at first – because right now all you’re doing is changing your thinking and to do that, you have to be willing to engage in goals loops and goals conversations.

So back to the Goals With Kids model – Goals get you from A to B. B is not guaranteed. So why do a goals loop? 

For a lot of reasons. 

Goals make B more likely. 

Goals conversations can build relationships. 

Goals can build life skills.

Goals also direct your brain’s attention.

Goals direct and inspire action.

Engaging in goals, whether you reach them or not, builds character and capacity.

Engaging in goals, whether you reach them or not, builds resilience.

Engaging in goals, whether you reach them or not, builds self efficacy. That’s the belief that you are up to the task in front of you.

By engaging in goals I don’t mean – set a goal, try it for a few days, then quit. I also don’t mean set a goal, keep at it no matter what until you are done. What I mean is engage with the process. We’ll learn to teach your children and youth how to choose a goal and ask themselves a few questions to make the goal more likely. We’ll learn to back off until the next goals conversation to give them some space to succeed or fail on their own. We’ll learn to evaluate and finish the goals loop by asking questions like What went well and Why? What didn’t go well? And What did you learn? At the end of the goals loop you adjust the goal by choosing it again, changing it up a bit, or saying goodbye to it and letting it go. Then yay! Celebrate. One goals loop completed! Doesn’t matter in a single loop if you succeed or fail because you engaged. You had conversations about what they learned in the process. You unpacked a little of what is happening in the middle of their goal. Engaging isn’t about finishing. It’s about paying attention and being aware and curious about the process of going after the goals we want in life. 

Going back to Snyder’s research on Hope that I mentioned. He describes a goals loop as a feedback loop. You take action and that action gives you feedback. For Snyder hope is about having agency and pathways, or more than one way to get to your goal when you hit a roadblock. As you take a step of effort, you get feedback. It either goes well and you move forward, or it doesn’t go well and you find a new pathway. That’s what hope does – lets us use our agency to find new pathways when we don’t reach our goals.

All of these benefits I just listed about character and capacity, resilience, self efficacy, and life skills are backed by research that I’ll be sharing in future podcasts.

Many of these benefits are exactly the reason the January 2020 Children and Youth Initiative is happening. How do I know? It’s already on the website. The purpose of the initiative is to “build faith in Jesus Christ, build character and resilience, develop life skills, and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.” FYI this is also where it says it will be a home-centered, church supported initiative.

So we’re on this journey together. The Church’s Children and Youth Family Initiative rolling out in January 2020 and Goals With Kids. I have 10 clients right now beta testing the ideas and principles in Goals With Kids. I’ll share their stories and others as I continue to coach parents and kids through their goals loops and goals conversations. 

Think about the families in your ward or branch. Some are doing Come Follow Me at home and some are not. And each family that is doing it is doing it in their own way. We are all different. At some point, every one of those families had that moment of beginning. Of deciding. Of having their very first Come Follow Me moment around the dinner table or sprawled out on the couches and floor. It’s the same for the January 2020 Children and Youth initiative. When setting goals with your children, just begin. Begin what? Begin anything around Goals With Kids. Begin a goals conversation. Ask your kids when you’re driving them around what they want in the future that they’re willing to put effort toward? Ask them what they are interested in. Ask them what they think their futures look like. Start in the car on the way home from school. Start at your Come Follow Me scripture moment. Start on a drive to McDonalds for a drink. Ask and listen. Don’t give advice. Don’t even set a goal yet. Just begin. Just listen and see what comes up. That’s your first assignment from Goals With Kids. Begin. Then come back and we’ll explore everything about setting goals with your children in the coming episodes.

For more information about the Children and Youth Initiative visit childrenandyouth.churchofjesuschrist.org.

To learn more about our workshop, click here.

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