How To Set Parenting Goals

Welcome, welcome everybody!! Today we are talking about goals.

As a society we often talk about our fitness, financial and overall life goals. Where’s the talk about parenting goals? We should be talking about these around the kitchen table with our partner, with our family members, with our kids, but we’re not. That’s why we’re talking about it today. It’s an important part of Connect Method Parenting.

The craziest thing happened as I was getting ready to write this post. I was getting ready for the day and I noticed that my eyebrows were completely disheveled.

So I went downstairs to go fix the brows, ended up doing laundry and dishes, then I headed back upstairs. I was about to start again when realized I had totally forgotten why I went downstairs in the first place. and had to go back down again to fix my brows. This is a very trivial example, but it is a good illustration for what we are talking about today.

I’m really glad that I put my sheets in the laundry this morning and that I did the dishes and that I gave the dog a treat, all beautiful things. But none of those things were the reason that I went downstairs. I did some great things, but I somehow forgot to complete the one thing I intended to do. We need to have a clear focus for our brains to be able to progress in our goals without getting too sidetracked.

There’s a couple other misnomers surrounding goals that I want to address right off the bat. Often times we think that if we set a goal and we accomplish it that it is going to make us happy, that it’s going to bring us so much joy. There is definitely some sense of satisfaction that comes from setting and achieving our goals, but learning to be happy, learning to be satisfied, that’s an inside job. That comes from our thoughts and beliefs, not from reaching our goals or getting the new shirt we wanted.

The Truth About Being Happy And Validated

Looking for external validation to create happiness and satisfaction within ourselves is going to create problems. A lot of times people set goals from a place of scarcity. They set a specific goal because they need the goal to happen for them to feel worthy or good enough.

It is never a good practice to be in a place where we need to accomplish things to prove our worthy or value. We’re going to turn that around today. We’re going to talk about setting goals from a place of abundance instead of scarcity. It will make a huge difference in how you set the goal as well as your ability to accomplish the goal. It’s powerful!!

Goals

I just wanted to lay that out on the table. Take a deep breath. Consider it. Goals do not make us feel better and are not productive when they’re set from a place of scarcity. Goals allow us to discover more of who we are. They allow us to progress as humans on this planet, especially as parents.

One of our purposes on earth as humans is to continually evolve and become the best versions of ourselves. As we become better versions of ourselves we are able to help our children better. Not to mention that it just feels so dang good. Goals serve as catalysts for our growth, inviting us to expand and grow in ways that we never could have imagined.

They allow us to challenge ourselves to break through self-imposed limitations and tap into our true potential.

I want you to keep reminding yourself of the true purpose of goals as you read this post. It’s about the journey of self-discovery and self-realization, not about the destination. It’s about who we become in the process, which is what truly matters. It changes everything.

Altering our mindset and creating lasting change takes time. I like to think that it is similar to water falling on soil, especially in Arizona, where the soil was so dry, it would take a minute for that water to soak into the soil. And that sometimes what happens to my brain when I’m thinking of concepts that are challenging my preconceived notions, that water just takes a little bit to soak into the soil.

The magic lies within this understanding. When we contemplate a goal or a dream that we have, it may initially feel very daunting. It might seem beyond our current capacities. I want you to know this is normal. When someone has the goal to run a marathon, for the most part, unless they are already a consistent marathon runner, they are not ready to run the marathon that day.

That is totally okay. When we create our parenting goals they might feel like a big stretch compared to our current abilities. The best goals should be a stretch in your present capabilities, but not too much to the point that it is unattainable. It is also important that your goals don’t feel extremely easy either. You want them to be in the middle somewhere.

Biologically, what’s happening when we hit this happy medium is that our dopamine kicks in, which pushes us to movement when it’s an appropriately challenging goal.

In fact, there’s a research paper called the 85 percent rule. It talks about when we’re stretching towards goals about 85 percent of the time we should be able to do the things that are leading up to it. It should only be around 15 percent where it feels frustrating and outside our comfort zone.

We want a goal that stretches us the right amount, not too much and not too little.

The Big Mama Goal

In League, my connective parenting group, we call this the Big Mama Goal. It’s the equivalent of signing up for a marathon. It’s our goals for six months or a year into the future. After we build our Big Mama Goal, we start creating baby step goals. This is the equivalent of creating a training regimen to prepare for the marathon.

As you initially contemplate your goal it’s going to seem a little daunting. It’s definitely going to be a stretch goal. It’s not going to be within your current capabilities. This is where the magic lies. First you get to envision what your life will be like when you accomplish that goal. It’ll be so fun! Then you’re going to document the goal and write it down, this is where you let yourself feel the excitement and anything else you might feel while thinking about your stretch goal.

If you’re having trouble dreaming about this new possibility for you and your parenting, that’s absolutely normal. Oftentimes there is so much chaos with the kids that we forget how to dream and think about what we really want. It’s totally normal, sit with it, and challenge yourself to create this beautiful goal and the vision that goes along with it!

I also want you to be realistic with your parenting goals. You’re going to have obstacles, and I want you to envision those with as much clarity as possible. I want you to think about things that could get in your way and what will happen if you let those obstacles derail you from your goal. This is important because it will allow you to see what your life will be like if you don’t accomplish this goal.

Biologically, we are programmed to run away from things we don’t want or that could hurt us. We also have the desire to go towards things we want. However, the instinct to retreat is stronger. Science has shown is that if we have a very clear vision of the cost of working towards our goals and failing, we are more likely to achieve the goal.

I know this feels counterintuitive, but it’s been powerful for me to adopt this practice and be very clear on what is my life going to look like if I continue to live in whatever cycle was keeping me stuck. I had one of these come to moments about a year ago, actually. Earlier this year I examined my physical health and I took time to realize that, if I continued. to eat out all of the time and to exercise infrequently that I would never going to miraculously get healthier one day (shocker right??) I was looking at the scale and saying, what the heck is happening? I do not like this. And I had to sit in the reality of if I continued down this course, my health would never improve.

It wasn’t just about the weight. It was about me wanting to do things with my kids and have a healthy life without my current limitations. I sat in that reality and I was so motivated that I finally made a change. Just envisioning this physically fit body and eating healthy was not enough for me.

I really had to lean into what the cost would be to my life if I didn’t pursue a more focused goal on health. It works. I was motivated because I took the time to envision my life if I didn’t make a change and it helped me realize how badly I wanted to improve my health and fitness. I can see the evidence of it in my personal life, but I love that the science supports it. Take time to understand what your life will look like when you pursue and achieve the goal and if you don’t achieve the goal. It will help you immensely.

Take The Time To Asses Your Life And Aspirations

By setting goals, we are providing our brain with clear direction and deliberate focus. We can fully focus on what we want to create with out lives because we know exactly what we don’t want to create as well. We’re going to be pulling away from what we don’t want, and we’re going to be moving towards what we do want.

We want to elicit both of those drives inside of us, just like we’re guiding and supervising our kids. We need to do the same for our brains and goals serve that purpose. They become a compass. They’re guiding us towards the parenting experience we most desire. I want you to drop into abundance as you’re doing this.

I want to point out the importance of constraint throughout this process. People are more likely to achieve their goals if they have less constraints, or goals, that they’re focused on. As I was growing up and I would set 20, 30, 40 goals every January for my new year’s resolutions, I wasn’t able to accomplish anywhere close to half of them.

I honestly don’t know if I did any of them. Maybe I got a couple done, but it’s less likely we will accomplish any of our goals if we have a whole laundry list of goals to check off the list. Generally it is a good idea to have somewhere around three or four goals. This will be different for each individual, but that is that ballpark. I would encourage you to focus on in different areas of your life that you want to improve and chose one goal for each area. This could be one parenting goal and one physical fitness goal, or one maybe financial goal and stay focused on those. You are more likely to achieve the goals if you keep the list relatively short.

Pick ONE Parenting goal

I want you to just have one parenting goal, this is the Big Mama Goal. If you’re in League use the app to document your Big Mama Goal. In League, we have this beautiful app that helps you create the Big Mama Goal as well as your Baby Step Goals to help you implement the framework of Connect Method Parenting and accomplish your parenting goals.

At first, when parents are new to Connect Method Parenting and have been using corrective parenting methods (think consequences and punishments), it’s hard to bridge that gap and know how to deal with behavioral issues or cranky teenagers at home without using punishments. League, alongside your Big Mama Goals, will help you navigate all of your parenting issues in a connective way.

If you’ve thought of a couple potential goals, try to distill them down to the one you feel is most important. Remember, it’s the equivalent of the marathon, so it can be a sizable goal. Its due date, so to speak, is far away. Generally, we give our Big Mama Goals a timeframe of a year or so.

The Want-Have-Want List

Put that big goal on the back burner for a minute. We’re going to do this exercise. It’s called the want-have-want list.

This is an exercise to help you counter scarcity, which is something many moms (including me) sometimes struggle with while making big goals. We tend to think, “I need to improve the relationship with this child because it’s not good, and if I don’t repair it, everything’s going to go to pot”. That’s a very scarcity/lack mindset. It might be very important for you to improve the relationship with your child, and I would not at all deter you from making that your number one goal, but to believe that everything is ruined if you don’t accomplish your goal is only going to hurt your chances of actually getting to the finish line.

It is best to create goals from a place of abundance, not from scarcity. By creating from a place of abundance I mean that you should be in a mindset where you appreciate and acknowledge all of the beautiful things in your life already. If you are living in a place of abundance, you can absolutely want to change your current situation, but you also realize that your life is already full of amazing things and acheiving your goals won’t necessarily make everything better in the way you want.

I want you to create a list of 25 things that you want, but here’s the twist, you need to have all of these things already. For example, I’ll give you a couple for me.

  • I want six beautiful, healthy children.

Well, as you can see right here. Those are my six beautiful, healthy children, and I have them. I’m so grateful for that. This is a want that I have.

Then I would maybe say,

  • I want to live in the woods.

I grew up in the desert, and during COVID, we moved to a cabin in the woods by a creek with seasons in the mountains. I absolutely love it! This is my happy place.

Those are two examples. You’re going to create a list of 25 things you want that you already have. If you want to do it right now, pause and then come back, because there’s a twist. If you’re writing this out, leave a space in between each item on the list.

After you finish the list, I want you to sandwich, in between two things that you want that you have, something that you want that you don’t have. It could be a smoother bedtime routine with the kids, or something else you want. You are mixing the wants you already have with those you are still working towards.This exercise can help shift you into a place of abundance, instead of lack. It’s crucial. It’s everything. It’s one of those hidden gems that we don’t talk about. It will make the biggest difference in the energy that is fueling your goal.

I want you to write it in first person and present tense. For example, if bedtime was the focus, that was my Big Mama Goal, you might want to word your Big Mama goal like this:

“I am creating an amazing bedtime routine where I spend time connecting with my kids, helping them stay calm and go to sleep. I’m willing to attempt it 300 times if necessary to figure out how to create the best bedtime routine for my kids.”

The more specific and detailed you can be, the better. Specify timeframes, dates, even amounts, if that’s applicable. At this stage, you do not need to know the how. Got it? We just are addressing the energetic component of abundance.

We want to be in a place of abundance. We want to be visualizing what happens if we don’t follow through with the goal, what our life will be like. That’s the important part right now. That’s as far as I want you to go.

It might sound like a simple task, but when you transfer your goals from your mind to your paper, or if you’re in League, from your mind into the Big Mama Goal section of the app, you are making them tangible and real. You’re taking them outside of imagination and you’re solidifying your commitment to them.

Now, here’s what might happen along the way. It happens to everyone so prepare yourself. Your brain will happen. Your subconscious brain is this bullet train. It’s really powerful. It wants to keep things the same. It wants to be efficient. It likes things to stay the same, even if it’s not working great because you’ve survived and you’ve been safe. It’s going to work against these goals.

We’re setting ourselves up for more success by stating our goal in present tense and from our perspective. However, our subconscious brain is still going to try to keep you safe by not allowing the change to happen. Thoughts are going to start popping into your head. Thoughts like, “I don’t know. I’m not sure. Maybe this isn’t the right thing.”

Your brain will feed you thoughts that will steal your dreams faster than anything else. It will try to put you into a place of confusion and doubt and fear. If you allow them to dominate your mindset, you’re not going to move forward. Many clients I’ve worked with have blocked their own dreams by simply saying, “I just don’t know.”

Strategies To Override Your Subconscious Brain

This is part of the process. It’s not a problem. The best thing to help you work through these dream-stealing thoughts is to do a thought download. That’s my go to. Write down all of your thoughts, good and bad, about your situation and goals. Look at the thoughts. Allow them to be there. Don’t believe them. Don’t judge them. It might help to imagine yourself from the future place where your goal is accomplished.

Looking at the thoughts will allow you to disempower them so that they don’t get in your way any longer. This is a powerful process. It allows you to meet your own mind from a place of knowing. If you’re embodying this future vision of what your life will be like, and you’re encountering these thoughts of doubt and fear and confusion, you’re meeting them from a place of knowing.

What would you do or think or believe about those thoughts if you knew you couldn’t fail? If you knew inevitable success was yours? If you knew that was the case, how would you approach those thoughts differently? What would you do or not do about them?

Envisioning your goal as already accomplished allows you to gain clarity. It enables you to approach the icky thoughts with clarity and confidence. Once you have this clarity and you’re able to address the thoughts, you can create the action plan.

In order to get to that mental headspace, you need to drop into your imagination and embrace the person you will become when you achieve your goal. You start by imagining yourself as your future self, who has already achieved the goal, and reflecting how that version of you would have accomplished your goal.

I know this might sound strange if you’ve never done it before, but you have to try it. It’s so powerful. You will unlock so much wisdom that was hidden inside of yourself.

Connect Method Parenting will help draw on that information and begin to create lasting change in your parenting, form deeper relationships, a smooth bedtime routine, or accomplish whatever your goal is. If your goal was to have a peaceful bedtime routine with your kids, you’re going to start by envisioning that it has already been achieved and then reflect on the steps that you took to make that happen.

Maybe you implemented a clear start time. Maybe one of the steps was to get really clear on what you needed to do personally to prepare yourself emotionally and physically to create a beautiful bedtime routine. Maybe you iterated on the conditions of the bedroom, mood lighting or calming music.

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

Take bedtime for example. Maybe your current bedtime routine looks like the kids running out of the room. That was for sure the way it was in my house when my kids were little. They would run out of the bedroom. It was bonkers. I needed to learn how to address the issue instead of letting myself foolishly hope that my kids were going to change drastically overnight. I would think things like: “I hope it doesn’t happen tonight. Please, pretty, please. I hope it doesn’t happen tonight.”

It’s much wiser to acknowledge the issue and focus on taking steps to overcome it than to hope for improvement without taking any substantial action in the right direction. When you’re thinking about these obstacles from this future version of yourself, you’re going to be able to drop into more wisdom of how you can tackle these obstacles in realistic ways.

For example, when your kids run out of their room you could say, “okay, how can I address this issue? How does the version of me that has created a beautiful bedtime routine address this issue?” That version of you might start by thinking or believing something like:”This is okay, I can handle this. This is not an issue” or something along those lines

Those beliefs may help you feel firm, compassionate energy to lead them back to their room and help them know the limit is we don’t come out at night. You would have felt capable and confident, not frustrated and frazzled like usual. The solution is to take the time to problem solve the things that future you would have done to overcome the obstacles, and then implement those changes into your life today.

You’re going to be amazed at your genius because you are amazing! You have so much wisdom inside of yourself. You just have to set up the parameters and the environment so that you can discover it. You can think of these goals as a GPS that guides you to your destination. It provides you with a road map for where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

It serves as a compass to give you focus and helps you make decisions that are aligned to your desired outcomes.

In our lives, even when we have big goals, it is extremely easy to get distracted by small things like the laundry, the fighting, the dinner and the errands, that we don’t focus on making consistent progress towards our Big Mama Goals. Think of your goal as a compass, giving you a sense of focus and helping you make decisions that are aligned to your end target.

For example, imagine that your 12 year old is consistently refusing to do chores and becomes angry when the topic is brought up. This might be drawn on a personal experience here,. It was so challenging for me, and by setting a goal to address the issue and taking time to think about what my life would be like if I finished the goal and what it would be like if I didn’t accomplish it, I was able to move forward to find the solution I needed.

If you were tasked to hire for a position and you were willing to interview 300 applicants for the job, you have a pretty high chance of finding a really good fit for the job. The same is not true if you only interviewed five applicants.

When you are dealing with your child’s resistance to chores or bedtime or whatever the issue is, approach it with a similar mindset. If you only try a couple of strategies, it’s less likely you’re going to be successful.

If you’re willing to try as many times as needed, you have a significantly higher chance of success. It might be helpful to set a goal to explore every different possibility to help your child have a more pleasant attitude around chores, thereby increasing the chance that your child changes their attitude towards their chores.

In the process, you are going to learn so much about yourself.

What if you were determined to create your dream life and you were willing to try 300 different thing to get the result that you want?. Your chance of success is pretty darn good. And ultimately you want that regardless. Who cares how many times it takes?

By taking these intentional actions and trying different methods, you increase your likelihood of finding a successful solution.

I want to be very clear that the person you become through the process is just as important as actually achieving your goals. The things you learn through the process are called strategic byproducts or secondary gains. They are the skill sets, emotional capacity and resilience that you gain along the way. You get all of those things. which you can then bring with you to other goals and situations that you are navigating with your kids and with your life.

So this is powerful. You’ll face your doubts, your fears and your frustrations head on. It’s inevitable that you’ll grow.

What Do You Want To Create?

I was talking with a parent who really was trying to create a better relationship with their kids, and they were willing to do 200 one on one dates with this child to build a stronger relationship. That was their goal. Now, by one on one dates they didn’t mean always leaving the home, but dialed in experiences with that child that were very intentional. We have a very specific way of doing one on one special time with kids, and he was willing to put in that work.

Not every outing went great, but the process itself led to so much growth and transformation. Inevitably, the relationship improved. Through the experiences, the parent gained incredible insight into their child’s world.

Even if they didn’t achieve the exact outcome they had in their mind when they started, they became a better version of themselves in the process. I have to say it actually was better than they imagined.

This holds true for all of us. It’s through the pursuit of these goals that will shape us and change us as parents. We learn so much how to manage our thoughts, how to be more deeply connected to our kids and even how to manage our emotions.

I invite everybody to dream big, that’s your challenge for this post, dream big, pick a very specific Big Mama Goal. Write that sucker down, allow all the fears, doubts, and shame to come up. Acknowledge all of those negative thoughts.

Your subconscious brain is going to want to derail you and confuse you. Acknowledge them. Tap into the wisdom of your future self who has successfully navigated the challenges and achieved this desired goal. From there, break down your goal into actionable steps so that you can create consistent action towards your goal and be willing to give it 300 attempts.

Be willing to put in the time, the energy and the effort necessary. Even if this doesn’t work keep in mind that it will lead you to so much personal growth and deeper understanding of yourself as a parent. It will be beyond worth it.

Step outside your comfort zone, embrace the power of a Big Mama Goal as a parent.

Your desires and aspirations for your family are essential for you to create the parenting experience and the life you want with your children.

I will be cheering you on every step of the way!

If you enjoyed this post, come check out League, my Connect Method Parenting coaching program, where we take this material and we apply it using my proven formula.

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Andee Martineau

Andee’s a mom of 6, reformed yeller, and the creator of Connect Method Parenting. She’s on a mission to help moms feel in control, bring the fun back into parenting, and ditch the yelling, corrections, and endless feelings of failure!

Can you imagine your kids happily listening to you, helping around the house, confiding in you, and getting along with their siblings? She’s got you covered with simple, scientifically-sound steps to do just that (that actually work. For real!)

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