In homeschooling and writing, things have a way of intertwining themselves without any sort of prior intent. Here are two topics that I’ve written about before:
Topic #1: learning about goal-setting is of particular importance to teenage homeschoolers. [Read more here.]
This summer: The melding of two of my favorite topics.
I decided [why, oh why do I decide these things?] that first of all, I was going to write a book on goal-setting explicitly for homeschooling teens.
Secondly, I decided that I would offer an online class in the fall based on the book. [Read about it here.]
So, what did I inadvertently do? I set myself a goal, and then forced myself to be accountable for it. Paying students are already listed in my classroom, expecting to get their copy of my “book” in October.
I actually do know why I do these things to myself: When I was young, I thought that people “just did” things and how their work got out into the world was a mysterious process that hopefully I’d be swept into at some point.
In other words, I had never noticed that people who get things done actually set goals, figure out the steps to get there, and make themselves accountable in some way for reaching those steps and, hopefully, the final goal. This is not something I’d ever done, not as a child, a teen, a young adult, or even a mother of small children. I apparently thought that whatever life threw at me was what I would get.
But homeschooling (and parenting in general) has a way of getting you to look at yourself and notice things you hadn’t bothered to think about before.
Why didn’t I set goals? Why didn’t I make myself accountable for them? What was stopping me?
I’m not going to psychoanalyze myself (fear of failure? low self-esteem? the alignment of the planets?), but I have noticed a change since I’ve been forced to look more carefully at how I’m raising my children. I’ve started to look at the things I’m doing with a little more of a critical eye. It was a huge step for me just to go through a series of simple questions:
- Is this activity fulfilling for me?
- Is it taking up time that I should be using for something else?
- Is it leading me in any particular direction, or am I just spinning my wheels?
- Do I have any particular goal here?
Thinking like this got me to making a few changes in my life. I self-published my chapter book, Hanna, Homeschooler, knowing that it wasn’t really suited to a mainstream publisher, anyway. I am spending more time on music and less on trying (futilely) to help every organization I come into contact with work more efficiently.
Writing this book on goal-setting is sending me full circle back to what I think is most important about goal-setting: being self-reflective, focusing our attention on what matters, and realizing that “success” is all about feeling like we’ve done our best, and not at all about being declared “successful” by someone else.
I still spend plenty of time on non-goal-oriented activities (never discount the value of a glass of wine with family or friends in helping you reach your goals!), but I feel more focused, less like I’m putting out fires and more like I’m setting fires for myself!