Inside: Setting family goals is a fantastic way to move your family forward with intention, in ways that align with your families priorities and values.
There is just something about it. The crisp papers with perfect palettes of pastels to ease my racing mind, straight lines giving order to my scattered thoughts and plenty of open space to give me the hope that maybe today, even for just 5 minutes, I can get my s*#t together.
I have lists everywhere. Grocery lists, ‘to-do’ lists, ‘people to call’ lists and ‘books to read’ lists. Lists keep my goals and intentions alive when the chaos of family life threatens to bury them in a heap of diapers, toys, and laundry.
I know I am not alone. Many of us have goals for ourselves whether they be daily, weekly or annually. Despite this, the vast majority of parents I talk to have never given thought to encourage their child to set personal goals or be intentional in setting goals for their families.
What could account for this disconnect? Well, quite possibly the boatloads of work parents already have laid at their feet.
But we push past that for everything else, right? Being intentional about our goals and vision for our family is a process no family should go without, and I’ll explain why.
If we don’t look ahead as a family we won’t move forward
When we take the time to reflect on how we’d like our family to grow, we invest in our family’s success. Research tells us that if we don’t take the time to develop goals for our family, it’s highly likely we won’t take the steps necessary to move closer to them. When families come together to work toward a common goal, they’re more likely to succeed.
Thinking about goals prompts us to think about what matters
It’s far too easy to get caught up in the chaos of family life, moving from day to day without stopping to consider what’s of main importance to us. What behaviors and values do you want to model and emphasize as parents leading your family? What goals or accomplishments are of utmost importance in the upcoming year?
When we have conviction in the ‘why’ behind our goals, we’ll be more likely to follow through with them. Having a clear concept of our families mission and goals also increases our intrinsic motivation.
When we work together we strengthen our relationships
When family goals are set collaboratively, it provides space for the thoughts and concerns of both parent and child to be expressed. When we hear and understand the perspective of other family members, we’re more inclined to understand and empathize with each other’s ideas. This sets a tone of mutual understanding and respect while building family morale when we work as a team.
When we develop goals our children learn important life skills
As we navigate through what’s important to each member of the family and deliberate goals and intentions, children learn invaluable communication skills that they’ll carry with them throughout their lives. Children also learn self-discipline, commitment, and perseverance when they strive toward a longer term common goal.
Family goals help families feel a greater sense of personal agency
Many variables in our child’s life are outside of our control, whether it be the friend they cling to on the playground or the teacher they get for third grade. Goal setting leaves both parent and child feeling a sense of agency and intention in both their personal and family lives.
Here are 5 foolproof tips for family goal setting
1 | Be S.M.A.R.T.
The popular SMART framework is the gold standard in business for breaking down goals, so why not use it for our family? It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and timely. In short, the guidelines will help to keep your goals realistic while focusing on the how as much as the what. It’s helpful to differentiate short term goals from long term.
2 | Everyone helps
Plan a time for the whole family to sit down and discuss goals together, whether it be a family meeting or pizza night. Parents can plan out ideas and main points ahead of time, and allow each family member to provide their own thoughts and suggestions as well.
3 | Visibility is key
Write down goals and keep them out in plain sight. For younger kids, drawing pictures aids in their processing of information and well as committing the goals to memory.
4 | Focus on the process as much as the outcome
Of course, attaining a goal is a success, but don’t discount all the other good stuff that comes along the way. Small efforts should be positively reinforced, and setbacks can be viewed as opportunities to encourage each other and develop a growth mindset.
5 | Follow up
Research tells us that the more we review and reflect on our goals, the more likely we are to achieve them. Decide how often you’ll follow up, and stick with it. Strategize what’s working and what’s not, and adjust from there.
While it will take a bit of extra effort and what few brain cells you have left at the end of the day, taking the time to set family goals is well worth the investment. When we become intentional about what we’d like to accomplish as individuals and as a family as a whole, we’re not only creating a more meaningful life, but we’re also providing inspirational roadmaps for our child and family’s futures.