To catch a vision for your family in the year ahead first requires a brief look back. What worked in your family this year and what didn’t? What rules, priorities, or thinking could use some fine-tuning? If you could do the last year over, what decisions would you change? What decisions moved your family forward? Where did you over commit your time and what areas need more attention? Candidly assessing the wins and losses can be a wonderfully powerful tool as you step into 2015.
In the spirit of starting fresh—with that oh-so-beautiful, crisp, white slate—here are 7 tips to boost your family goals in 2015:
- Include everyone. It’s tempting as a parent to simply establish and communicate the decisions you deem best for your family each day. However, when it comes to goal setting, it’s essential to your success to include input from every family member. When individuals feel ownership in goal, they become invested in the process of reaching it.
- Get brutally honest. Get real with your expectations and ask yourself: Is this goal really doable? Am I setting the bar too high? Can our whole family really hit the gym together three times a week with our current schedule? Instead of three times, start with one time a week and enjoy the accomplishment of meeting an achievable goal together. Increase the day to two days as the family progresses together.
- Consistently communicate. Have you ever set goals in place and failed in the long-term simply because you did not communicate them to everyone else in your family on a consistent basis? I know I sure have! In a family setting, it’s imperative to communicate goals clearly and often. In addition to verbal reminders, post the goals in a place everyone sees daily.
- Aim for balance. Enthusiasm at the beginning of a new year is great . . . but it will only carry your family so far. Practice balance in any goal you set. Balance pads your goals with grace—grace to be imperfect along the way and to overcome obstacles that rise up.
- Discover the power of ‘no.’ Experts agree that when we learn to say ‘no’ to the wrong things (i.e. unnecessary purchases, time commitments) we will have the emotional, financial, and physical bandwidth to say ‘yes’ to the right opportunities that come along. When an outside influence threatens to thwart the goals you’ve set for your family, remember ‘no’ is a very acceptable—and powerful—answer. In his best-selling book Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud clearly moves this concept forward and writes, “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options.”
- Follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal method: Get Specific with the goal, (i.e.: a family vacation to Hawaii, July 7-14); make the goal Measurable (i.e.: we will save $200 a week); make the goal Attainable (i.e.: you know you can’t go to Europe, set your goal as Hawaii or even a camping trip to a nearby lake); make the goal Relevant to your family. For example if your goal is to build unity and spend more quality time together ask yourself if a family vacation will further that big picture goal. Set goals that are Time-Related or goals with a due date (i.e.: build a vacation cushion of $500 by May).
- Write a family mission statement. This is the perfect time of year to write a family mission statement, which is simply a guiding set of values that define the goals and character of your family. Author Andy Andrews says “unless you have a process in place for guiding your choices, at best you can hope to make 50% of your choices right,” and offers this great outline that will help you shape your own statement here.
We hope this plan helps you launch your family goals in 2015. And remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child—just parents committed to sharing together, learning, and improving along the way.