I was talking to a group of parents recently and they had identified a couple areas of need for their child, but they did not know where to start. As we continued to talk, I discussed prioritizing goals with them.
When talking about priorities, I like to give the analogy of signing up for a gym membership. Let’s say I sign up for a gym membership and I make goals of going to the gym three times a week, losing weight, becoming stronger, taking a yoga class, and being able to run 5 miles. It is awesome to have these goals to make sure I maximize my time at the gym and to receive the results I want. However, having so many goals to try and accomplish at one time can be very difficult. As a result, it can lead to feelings of discouragement if we are unable to accomplish as many things as we have hoped. In this example above of signing up for a gym membership, it would be more realistic to say, “my goal is to go to the gym two times this week.” Once I am consistently able to go to the gym two times per week, then I can add on another goal and say, “now I want to go to the gym two times per week and take one yoga class a week.” By prioritizing my larger goals into smaller achievable smaller goals, the end goal is more attainable. With each success we have, it will further provide additional internal motivation for us.
It is the same way when addressing any concerns we have for our children. We may identify multiple areas of need, but we want to prioritize those areas of need to set ourselves (both our child and family) up for success.
There is nothing wrong with saying I want to work with my child on shoe tying, writing his name, transitioning without meltdowns, decreasing his sensory aversion, and having my child be able to sit at the table for a meal without getting up numerous times. It is great to have these goals, and these are all goals that we can eventually work towards. However, for the child above we may identify transitioning without meltdowns and decreasing sensory aversions as the biggest areas of need and the areas we want to address immediately. Once we make some progress on those goals, then we can address shoe tying, writing their name, and sitting at the table.
When we prioritize our goals we are simply identifying which goals are most important to maximize our time and resources and decrease any discouragement.
I hope this concept of prioritizing works well for you and your family this week. Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you soon!
Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
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