We are quickly approaching the new year, which can mean a year of thoughtful change for your family and the start of a new direction. Let go of the perceived failures and letdowns of the past year and instead embrace the hope of new beginnings. You’re familiar with New Year’s resolutions, but we want to encourage you to instead imagine a more purposeful direction for your whole family.
While it’s valuable to strive for personal change and growth, we’ve seen firsthand the positive outcomes of a family united behind a common plan for the future. When you have a goal in mind as a family, decisions become easier, there is less anxiety and stress and thoughtful and compassionate teamwork among your family members will become the norm. Creating a family philosophy statement is the key to making those changes stick, so read on for our favorite tips. Here’s how:
Call a Family Meeting
Arrange a time for the whole family to sit down together and discuss your family’s direction and goals. Assign someone to take notes. Everyone in the family should have the opportunity to voice his or her opinion, even the littlest ones. If all family members feel like they are important, then you are more likely to have a cooperative, positive experience. Working as a team also sets a framework for the rest of the year and helps ensure you’ll follow through as a family on your goals.
Make a List of Goals
Discuss what you would like to accomplish as a family this year. Perhaps you want to travel more, save money for something the whole family needs or serve together in your community. Write down all your family’s ideas and then narrow the list down to three. Depending on time and financial limitations for the year, you might need to narrow that list down to one major goal. A family vote is the best way to ensure fairness and that everyone is on board.
Design a Family Mission Statement
From that list of goals, write a family mission statement for the year. This statement should be specific and measurable. For example, if your family decided to serve at a local homeless shelter, you might write a statement such as: “We will joyfully serve at the homeless shelter one day per week, unless we are traveling or sick. We will also give five percent of our net income to the shelter monthly.”
Or perhaps your family really wants to foster community and build connections around the dinner table. So your statement might read, “We will welcome another family into our home for dinner two times a month. We will cook the entire meal, engage in thoughtful conversation and be sensitive to others’ needs. We will set aside $100/month to pay for the dinners.”
The family statement is not a straitjacket for the year but a guiding light for when times are tough and you want to give up on your goal.
Give it Visibility
Place the statement and your goals in a prominent place in your home where everyone can see it. Some families type it up and frame it, others write it on a chalkboard wall and some leave it in a few places around the house so that it’s always visible. Do what makes the most sense for your family and refer to it often.
You will want to review your family mission statement and goals from time to time. Are they still motivating? Are they reasonable for the amount of time and financial resources at your disposal? Remember, the goal is not to burden or guilt your family with an impossible goal but to inspire and encourage. The more often you goal-set as a family, the easier it will become and the stronger your family unit will grow. Cheers to a new year and new direction as a family!
Kate Saffle and Melissa Risenhoover, two best friends who met as neighbors in Oklahoma City’s Belle Isle neighborhood, share a passion for guiding families toward stress-free parenting through simplifying. They host the Cohesive Home Podcast as well as offer resources for crafting a happier, values-driven home. Find out more on Instagram @cohesive_home.