We’re now three months into 2020—a quarter of the way into the year. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Have you kept them all? Cheated a little? Broken them all? It’s important to reflect on these goals not only to keep yourself accountable to them, but to remember why you set them in the first place.

Goal setting is important. Without goals, we’re wandering aimlessly! For most of us, life doesn’t exist without goals, purely because we’re goal-oriented people. I’m one of them. I need goals to work towards, otherwise I’m completely erratic and unfocused. I try to do 1,000 things at the same time and I end up getting nowhere. But with a goal, I have an objective and I can work backwards from it. I can create the steps to get there, then follow them. It’s cathartic.

Goal setting is something I’m teaching my girls early in life, because it took me way too long to figure out just how important it is. I’m hoping that by teaching them to get organized and focused early in life, things will come easier to them as they get older.

Here’s an example. Right now, their goal is to each read 4 books this month—their number, not mine! To understand how to accomplish this goal, I helped them understand the process of working backwards. Here are the steps we followed.

  • They picked four books and we added up the pages (159, 224, 175, 192)
  • We divided the number of days in March (31) by the total pages (750)
  • Rounding down, we get 25 pages per day with one day to spare

After this quick math, I asked my daughters if their goal still seemed feasible. They said yes! They’re motivated to read 25 pages each day to reach their goal of 4 books this month.

Are they going to read more pages one day and fewer another? Definitely. Are they going to skip days? Probably. That’s not what matters. What matters is that they know their goals: micro and macro. They know if they only ready 20 pages today, they need to read an extra 5 tomorrow to make up for it. More importantly, they know what it takes to reach their bigger goal and they have some level of personal accountability to go with it.

Today we’re talking about reading books. Tomorrow, this idea might apply to homework or soccer practice. Five years from now, this is how they’ll learn a musical instrument. Then go college. Then get a job. Then start their own family. And so on! This simple practice of learning how to set goals and identify the path to accomplishing them extrapolates to so many aspects of life.

Not everyone is inherently organized and focused. If my daughters inherent anything from scatterbrained dad, I’m sure it’ll be my ability to pull myself in too many directions at the same time. Thankfully, they’ll also have dad’s goal setting skills to help them get back on track and stay focused.