“Thank you, mum. I’m so happy!”

That was my son in August 2016 as we went home after purchasing a new mobile phone. He had been waiting for this phone for one year and his dream had finally come true.

Here are lessons on goal setting and achievement that I learnt from my then 12-year old son. These are strategies I teach and use, but it was different re-learning them from a child.

7 goal achievement lessons from a 12-year old

1. Clarity

Once he decided he wanted a smartphone, he researched different models until he got clear about the features he wanted in his phone.

While the exact phone was not clear, he was sure that it was a smartphone and knew approximately how much it would cost.

He also set a deadline for achieving the goal and identified where he’d purchase the phone.

2. Single-minded focus

He had no other goal for that year except getting a phone. And he never veered from this.

That year wasn’t an easy one for the rest of the family as he made sure that we all kept his phone at the top of our minds.

His brother and I started dreading going to the mall with him because we had to pass by the Safaricom shop and check out the latest phones and offers.

We did this every single time we were in the mall until it became a habit.

The phone was on his mind at all times. So much so that he talked about this goal to everyone he met, even strangers.

3. Determination to succeed

There were no conflicting ideas in his mind…there was only one way forward, which was to get the phone.

He started by saving money and soon realized that it would take a long time to save enough money. So he asked for extra chores in the house, but there wasn’t enough work to beef up his savings.

One day, he asked me to help him think of ways to get more money. We came up with a great idea: why not ask relatives to donate bonga points?


The next thing I knew, he was on the phone calling his uncles, aunties, and grandparents. He reminded them of his goal and asked if they could sambaza (donate) bonga points to mum’s phone.

He did this over a few months and kept calling once in a while to remind those who hadn’t sent him the points. He also kept track of the points we received and updated people about his progress.

A few days before the deadline, he made one final round of calls to everyone, including those who had already sent him points, and asked if they had points they could donate.

These calls got him a lot of bonga points!

He got the extended family thinking about his goal. His cousins also got into the game and asked their parents to contribute money for the phone.

So he got bonga points and money.

4. Constant, consistent and correct action

He didn’t sit and wait for the phone to come to him. Once he realized that it was up to him to spearhead his goal achievement, he swiftly moved into action mode.

His actions were consistent and he involved other people as he set to achieve his goal.

He was also following a plan that he’d laid out in his mind. When he noticed that his plan was not working, he changed track until he got a plan that worked.

And when he got enough money and bonga points, he went and got the phone.

5. Feedback and gratitude

When he bought the phone, he called everyone once more to tell them that he had gotten it. He also thanked them all, including the ones who hadn’t contributed anything.

This was a big lesson for me because many times, I forget to thank all the people I’ve asked for help. It’s easy to remember to thank those who’ve helped you and forget to update those who didn’t.

6. Celebration

I’ve never seen someone enjoy a phone the way he did. He even allowed the rest of us to use it a few times – just to get a feel of it.

7. Mapping the way forward

Once he achieved his goal and celebrated it, it was time to move to another goal. A week later, I overheard him and the brother sharing their new goals…

Next step…

This isn’t the first time I’ve had lessons on goal achievement from my children. In fact, they used an almost similar process to get me a phone for my birthday this year.

However, this was the first time that I deliberately took a step back to watch things unfold and learn from the process.

An interesting observation is that most of the results happened in the last month of my son’s plan. It’s almost as if the cumulative actions suddenly got a thrust and the goal took on a life of its own.

As I look back at these lessons, I wonder how many times I’ve missed out on my goals simply because I didn’t have as much focus and dedication as my son.

And I wonder how many other people struggle with goal achievement, when the process is simple enough for a 12-year old to follow through without any training.

I wonder…

(Image credit: Unsplash)

    4 replies to "Goal Achievement Lessons From a 12 Year Old"

    • Jane

      I totally love this story! Simple guide to achieving goals……well put and so pratical! Thank you for sharing!

      • Caroline Gikonyo

        Thank you Jane. There’s so much we can learn even from children, if we take time to slow down and connect with them. It’s my pleasure to share my experiences.

    • Winny

      I remember being embroiled in that phone acquisition process, he was so passionate and certain he would achieve it and when he called me to donate points he described that phone so vividly I could picture him with it. As I read this I realised one of the reasons we fail to accomplish our goals is having too many at the same time instead of focusing on one at a time…great food for thought.

      • Caroline Gikonyo

        Totally agree with you Winny. And thank God for Aunties with soft hearts, bonga points, and open wallets… BTW I’d forgotten how vividly he described the phone and what it could do! Thanks for your comment and it’s great knowing that this article was helpful.

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