A couple of years ago, I had the ambition to get my youngest son Seth more focused. He was 9 at the time and I admit, I may have been a little too ambitious. I sat down with Seth and explained the importance of doing a weekly “to-do” checklist.
While I explained why it’s so important to have goals and to write stuff down, Seth was looking around at the walls and ceiling. He was “sort of” paying attention to me, but was in full Seth-mode. He was looking around to see what there was to be curious about. He wasn’t invested in what I had to tell him.
I asked him to write down three things he was going to get done for that week. I handed him a pencil and piece of paper and let him loose.
A little later, I came back to check on his progress. He showed me he had, in fact, put together a checklist. He drew checkboxes, and next to his checkboxes he wrote his goals for the week, over and over again: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
So, while he may not have been looking directly at me, at least I knew he was listening. He did, in a sense, do what I asked him to do. And, I suppose, he did capture the weekly goals of a 9-year-old and let me know where his priorities were.
As we take our first steps into 2015, and think about New Year’s resolutions, this story popped into my head. It is important to make those resolutions, set goals, and write them down—create that checklist—but it’s also important to be curious and excited about what might come next. As adults we tend to lose a lot of spontaneity, and that childlike wonderment.