Experts pretty much agree that people who set goals are more effective at actually getting what they want. If you want to know more, check out Anthony Robbins’, Unlimited Power or Caroline Miller’s, Creating Your Best Life, to mention only two. I practice goal writing each January and I highly suggest that parents not only practice it themselves but that they institute it as something their kids will want to do.

Keep in mind: a goal is something YOU want for yourself (not what the coach wants, or your dad wants, or your girl friend wants for you)…so if you attained your goal, you’d be delighted!

In last week’s The New York Times “Well” section, January 6, 2015, Tara Parker-Pope suggests that having a personal mission statement may be even better than having personal goals. Writing a mission statement serves to clarify what you’re about, what the most important thing is in your life.

Examples of two missions statements I’ve heard recently are:

  • To work less, earn more, have fun, do good.
  • To love God to my best ability; to love others; to love myself.

Parker-Pope suggests that we begin our thinking about mission statements by asking ourselves several questions.

  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • How do you want people to describe you?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • Who or what matters most to you?
  • What are your deepest values?
  • How would you define success in your life?
  • What makes your life really worth living?

You may wonder why I bring up mission statements or goal setting at all. In my work of family coaching, I often have families come to see me with teens who’ve gone “off track,” one way or another. In coaching the teens, hopefully back on track, I often ask the questions above. “How do you want your classmates to remember you? Do you want to be remembered as the meanest kid in your class?” Or, “What do you want to be? Are you planning to graduate from high school? Has your effort this semester moved you that direction? Do you need to change your goal or change your effort?”

Parker-Pope suggests that if we aren’t clear about our mission, making resolutions for this little habit or that new behavior amounts to moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic. She further suggests that one reason our resolutions are not usually successful is that they are not tied to deeper meaning, things we really value.

Here are some ways you might implement something new this year:

  1. Talk over with your kids what your family mission is;
  2. Challenge yourself to answer one or two of Parker-Pope’s questions above;
  3. Challenge your teen to choose one or two to answer; then share your thoughts;
  4. Choose one question above; answer it; then write one or two resolutions of actions which will lead toward your mission fulfillment.

While all the experts agree that thoughtful goal setting yields greater success, NO ONE says it’s easy. Set aside time to give this some consideration. At a minimum, it gives your teen a role model for a thoughtfully-lived life.

May 2015 be filled with all your truly hope for.