Each year on December 31, I surround myself with piles of magazines and begin to update my vision board for the fresh, new year to come. Last year, my daughter wanted to do one alongside me so I used the opportunity to introduce her to the importance of setting goals and the power visualizing the things we want.
Even though she was only seven years old at the time and bounced back and forth between dreams of being the next Taylor Swift and a construction worker, depending on the day, it’s great for children to feel a sense of responsibility for the things they want, no matter the age.
When we started, the only advice I gave her in crafting her own vision board (she used sparkly poster board) was to turn the pages of the magazines and tear the things out that made her stop and feel something. I wanted to make sure I had no input on the things that caught her eye because I did not want to take the fun out of the activity and also, wanted her to feel in complete control over her desires. Instead, I talked openly about my own board and the aspirations I had for the months to come. I made sure to include phrases about being committed to the work in order to get results and being flexible about obstacles that may arise.
In an essay about goal-setting, Dr. Michele Borba writes:
“To help children feel comfortable talking about goals, we parents need to share our own aspirations. So take time to share a few of your dreams and wishes and the resolution you plan to set for yourself like losing those extra pounds, learning to text, finally reading and finishing Moby Dick, taking that gourmet cooking class. Whatever!”
One of the best things about doing this activity together was the conversations that stemmed from the different things we cut from the pages. We talked both realistically and imaginatively about far away places we’d like to travel and what it would be like to own a bakery or start a podcast. If nothing else came from this evening together, we exercised our creativity and bonded while reenacting some of the over-the-top advertisements we came across.
When we sit down to update our boards this year, I want to talk about what we accomplished, what we changed our minds about and what will be different in the year to come.
On her site Kiddie Matters, LCSW Yanique Chambers writes:
“Children are more likely to work towards their goals when they see progress. They can track their progress by using a sticker chart, graph with tally marks, a spreadsheet, etc. Make sure the child can readily see the progress they are making towards achieving their goal.”
Since it was her first time doing a vision board last year, I didn’t really think about using a way to measure her goals because I simply wanted her to enjoy the process. Now that she’s in third grade and has some consistent extracurricular activities she’s into, I plan on choosing a date every couple of months to “check-in.” Again, I want to make sure it’s something she gets excited about, so it’ll be kid-friendly with fun treats and maybe some Taylor Swift in the background.
After all, a quarter of the time, she still wants to be a pop star.