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How setting goals are like treasure maps for a child's mind.

Your brain is like a giant computer that’s designed to help you solve problems. It loves to figure things out! It loves to win! It loves to dream really big dreams and it hates it when it doesn't know what it's supposed to do!

Your amazing brain doesn't automatically know what you want it to do so it waits for your instructions. It wants goals to achieve and problems to solve so it can WIN! Since your brain hates not having answers it will try to guess what you want by watching what you do and then it puts all its thinking power into making what you do its goal... even if it's counterproductive! This is how behavior cycles are formed. Nothing changes because nothing changes.

Goals create a new game plan for your brain to win which requires a new behavior path. Unfortunately, your brain is SO GOOD AT WINNING, it creates habits to keep current behaviors automatic. Once those habits are set your brain won't automatically override them... this is where your "will" comes in. Your goal becomes the treasure map for your brain to follow and your will is the fuel that inspires the change. You can't accomplish a goal unless you want it more than the work required to change your habits.

Championeers! taps into this remarkable problem-solving ability to challenge a child's brain to think... really think. We don't hand children the answers to our questions, or tell them the end of the Championeers! Adventure Theater episodes, but instead we create tension to force the amazing brain to want to release the tension by coming up with a solution.

No tension—no solution.

People do not automatically know how to set and achieve goals. Since our brain is wired to win and hates to lose, it doesn't like the risk of change. It's happy winning at the current game you've given it. If there is no tension for change, your brain won't. To overcome the change-resistance mechanism, small victories along the way are imperative. When we set a series of goals, our amazing brain sees each step as a total "win." Winning is good, and since our brain loves to win, it rewards us with happiness, and since our brain loves to be happy it doesn't resist the next step as strongly as it did the first. Goals literally create a winning path of mini-treasures for our brain to follow. It's not the end goal that motivates change, it's literally the happiness we get from reaching each micro-step.

That's why a series of little instant wins are far more motivating than one big, long-term reward. Next time you create a goal for your class create a treasure map of tiny achievable wins that lead your students down a happy path to your ultimate goal. Make them as instant as possible, and then use those instant wins as steps to daily wins, that lead to weekly wins that lead to ultimate wins. Not only will your students reach their goals, they'll be much happier along the way, and much more likely to maintain their goals and the process it took to achieve them.

For Happy, Healthy Schools!


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