I have a bunch of odd, lofty goals to set… but I always wonder…
What is the right setting to perform the task?
What is the best “vehicle” to get there?
Where do these goals live?
How often to review them?
The questions are endless…
But really, the simple act of setting goals is where the magic begins.
I am a huge believer in the process and power of goal-setting, and I truly think that odd things happen in the background or “the universe” when you are intentional about the setting of them.
I also think it is a great exercise for kids, and sadly, it is one of the many life skills that should be taught in school that is completely missing from today’s curriculum. On top of that, there’s all the dumb stuff adults do to crush creativity and wonder in kids in favor of safety and predictability.
But I started my kids young on goal-setting. I tried to make clear to them that just because they set a goal, it wasn’t a guarantee that it would come true.
But at the same time, sometimes, the world conspires to make it happen.
The best example came when my oldest, Reece, sat down as a 5-year-old to do his annual goal setting with me.
He was a huge fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, our local NHL team, and his favorite player was a guy named Joffrey Lupul. I told Reece to think big when he set his goals, and he said, “Okay, I want to meet Joffrey Lupul from the Flyers…”
I was so excited to teach him the process, but didn’t want to crush him when it didn’t happen. Obviously, that was a tall order right out of the blocks… but hey, the process is the process. The goal was set. The die was cast. Choose your metaphor here!
Fast forward about 3 months.
The Flyers have an annual fundraiser that attracts about 15,000 people, and part of that is the chance to get autographs. The most popular players are sold out months in advance, and because I am Reece’s dad, the chance of us even having any player autograph session reservation in advance is, yes, zero…
So we go to the event and I did what every good, well intentioned parent does… I squashed Reece’s dreams before we even got there, in an effort to “protect” him.
I told him not to get his hopes up—there are 15,000 people there, blah, blah, blah…
So, no reservation for autographs and a horde of other fans. Off we go into the arena. There are games, and face painting, and lots of fun stuff all around. But the players were mostly in the autograph areas, which were off limits to us “unprepared” dads and their kids!
Good news though, the lower-level players, who will likely not be in the league very long, are open without a reservation. So, we get in line to meet one of those guys and get something signed. Cool! Check that one off the list!
As we wind through the line Reece is excited to meet the player, and I am thinking“that’s great he won’t be disappointed!”
Here is where it gets interesting…
The autograph area is set up in the luxury suites, and you literally wind through the seats and the player is sitting at the ledge that serves as a bar during games. They bring the players in from the hallway into the suites… perfect.
As we are 2 away from signing, a lovely young intern tapped our player on the shoulder and whispered something to him, and he got up… oh man…”is this another disappointing moment” —was all I could think…
Then, I watch in utter amazement as Joffrey Lupul(!) sits down for his scheduled signing session.
I turn and look…
…and 1000 people are in line behind us!
30 seconds later, Reece introduces himself to Joffrey Lupul, gets his stuff signed, and actually tells Joffrey that it was one of his goals to meet him.
He’s 5!!! Epic!!
I have tears in my eyes, and Reece turns to me and says, “See Dad, I told you I would meet him. I wrote it as a goal.”
Reece will turn 21 in a few months, and goal-setting is a central part of his life. He takes it incredibly seriously, and we still talk about that amazing moment 15 years later.
So, my takeaways are simple: teach your kids (and yourself if you need to!) to set goals. Then let them succeed and fail (and don’t rain on their parade trying to be protective!)
Let them feel the feels… It matters