In the first post of the family goals series, I introduced “the taxi driver” – the part of our mind we need to work with to make changes. When we want to make changes, it’s like directing a taxi driver to take us to a desired destination. I shared a list of questions we must answer to give our “taxi driver” good directions.
In the post on family goal setting, I explained how to use the answers to those questions to write goals and how to write them in the way that will help us make the desired change.
In this post, I would like to talk about how focus helps the driver navigate the ride to suit your needs and get to the destination faster.
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many people say that they know what they want, but they don’t know how to get it. It is true that sometimes, the goal seems so far-fetched or hard-to-get that people feel overwhelmed and freeze. It is as if they know the destination, but don’t know which path to take to get there.
The thing is you don’t need to find the path. You just need to focus on what you want, and the “taxi driver” will do the rest. If you dedicate time to clarify your goals, that will help your taxi driver achieve them for you in a way that aligns the most with what you want.
Remember, the conscious mind oversees only 10% of our decision making. Our subconscious mind oversees 90%. We often feel out of control because subconscious thoughts and feelings really are out of our control.
Some coaching and spiritual theories claim that all you need to do is write your goal and read it twice every day until your subconscious figures out how to get you there. I believe that also using conscious action helps us feel that we are involved in the process. Again, to feel that we are involved.
Reading goals twice a day requires ultimate faith in your subconscious, and faith is something very complicated that cannot be taught. It is a personal thing that people rely on and not something they can give or receive.
Taking action empowers people to deal with the extent of their goal and helps the subconscious find your solution. It beats distraction and keeps the taxi driver focused on the goal. The best way to come up with a list of actions is to break down a goal to many small steps. This way, even if one step is not completed, there will still be movement towards the goal.
In the context of family goals, parenting is all about coming up with actions. You have to make the decision on how to react to things, how to educate, how to set boundaries, how to keep your kids healthy and so on. You do it anyway, why not do it with awareness?
Examples of goal-supporting actions
What you need to do is find 3 things that you can do, to bring you closer to the family you want. Here are some of my examples:
- Talk to your partner about their definition of the ideal family and agree on something that you can both live with. This will bring you closer because, if there are contradictions between you, the kids will become more confused than before, and will fulfill their needs in dysfunctional ways. (Use more screen time to drown their confusion). If you have special family setting and share the custody of the children across two homes, talk to your partner and find common ground. If you don’t agree, just let your partner (or ex-partner) know that this is what you are planning to do in your house. Kids are very smart, and they will use disagreement between you to get what they want. For example: “but Mom allows us to…”. Remember that you are one of the two captains in charge. Say: “I understand. In our house, this is what we do”. You’ll be surprised how much confidence kids get from what you say when you say it calmly. Avoid bad mouthing your partner and stick to the rules you have created.
- Spend some time with the kids over 2-3 settings and talk to them about their definitions of the ideal family. It is amazing to hear children’s perspectives about families. At first, they tell you all about the kids they are jealous of. For them the ideal family is when kids are allowed to do whatever they want and get whatever they want, and it is funny to listen to them. If you continue to listen, motivate them to talk and hold your opinion, at a certain stage, they will start changing some of their thoughts. If they don’t reach that point, it is always a sign that you should listen to them more and give them more opportunity to express themselves. You might hear some things that you can adopt as well. I’ve been in a search for ways to get closer to my children for 29 years. Every one that shares something that works for him/her, I check if it matches my belief system. If it does, I try it! Get ideas from your children and from others on how to make changes that will match what your kids want and what you want for your family.
- If you figured something that you, your partner and kids agree on, it is time to write action steps together. It is a to do list that you can do every day, once every two days or once a week that will make sure you all go to the same direction. In our family for example, we agreed that it was inappropriate to answer phone calls during meal times. So, our action was that everyone would put their smart phone away before sitting down to eat. It was hard, but since everyone agreed on the rule, when the phone rang during meals, we would all remind each other that it was meal time and let the phone ring. It became something that involved the whole family rather than being a decision from the parents. If you realize that only you and your partner agree on something, tell the kids, “Mom and dad talked about it and we decided that in our house we do not bring mobiles to the dinner table”. When dinner times come, say in a calm voice “we are having dinner now, please put your mobile in its docking station” and repeat this phrase in a calm voice. This action step is to remind the children in a calm voice to put their smart phones away during dinner. Other action steps can be: alternating who reminds the kids, arranging a docking station and rewarding the kids for respecting a family rule. The reward can be a kind word, appreciation, gratitude expression, or even a dinner out after a week or two of having dinner without smartphones.
Join me next time, when I share with you some of my personal family goals and how I have achieved them.