A six-year old boy told his father he wanted to marry the little girl across the street. Being modern and well-schooled in handling children, he hid his smile behind his hand and with a serious look on his face exclaimed, “That’s a serious step,” “Have you thought it out completely?”
“Yes, his young son answered. “We can spend one week in my room and the next in her room across the street, so I can run home if I get scared of the dark.”
“How about transportation?” the father asked.
“I have my wagon, and we both have our big wheels,” the little boy answered. The boy had an answer to every question the father raised.
Finally, in exasperation, his dad asked, “What about babies? When you’re married, you’re liable to have babies, you know.”
“We’ve thought about that, too,” the little boy replied. “We’re not going to have babies. When she lays an egg, I’m going to step on it.”
This is a humorous story about an innocent little boy who exasperated his father with his carefully thought out plan for the important arenas in his life. It included:
- Where he would live
Let’s facetiously imagine this little boy at age 51/2 (six months before the conversation with his father) thinking in great detail in terms of the important areas of his life — what might that thinking look like?
- Marriage: I’d like to marry the proverbial girl next-door (someone who is approachable, sweet, wholesome, dependable and easy going. No drama.) Miraculously at age 6 he found such a girl.
- How would our relationship work? We will be able to talk with each other and come to decisions together, and we will have great relationships with our parents and in-laws, and we will live close to them and enjoy their companionships. Who wouldn’t want that!
- Affordable housing: We would find the perfect place in a great neighborhood, close to our family which would provide emotional security for each of us. I could go for that.
- Transportation: Being young and on an allowance we already own inexpensive yet perfect transportation that would cover our immediate needs. No debt -- two possible tight-wads.
- Children: Not going to have any.
As you look at the detail of the goals or vision or future orientation, the character of the person is revealed.
Would criminal behavior fit in this picture?
How about drug use?
When kids get to be a certain age they desire to be their own person, out from under parental authority, they don’t want to obey other people’s rules. So we transition them to goal setting. The key for successful goal setting is to continually push people to activate their imagination.
Oh, you’d like to be married someday. What would that look like? What would your spouse look like? How would he/she behave? Describe the relationship – would it be hierarchical with you making all the decisions or would you be coequals.? What character traits would you have to have to attract such person?
Oh, you want to go to college. What type of college -- local, away, Ivy League. What kind of SAT would you have to have to get in to the college of your choice? How are you preparing for being successful at this school? How will you go about making rules with your roommate in your dorm room concerning distractions like drug usage or having significant others spend the night?
Successful people use well defined goals to give them a big picture vision for their life. The clearer the vision is, the fewer options they have and the easier it is for them to make good decisions. In my Goal Setting Unit, Goals or Good Intentions, I provide an opportunity for students to activate their imagination. Students are asked to think of the big picture for their life in terms of education, career, family, children, future mate, and finances. My purpose is for them to imagine what or could be for their life in high definition (as in HDTV).