At the start of January, there is talk of resolutions and personal goal setting. We feel motivated and excited by a new year and so resolutions are made for a healthier lifestyle, better work-life balance and a happier family life. For many of us, these resolutions either feel unachievable or are forgotten in the busyness of the day-to-day. By February, our personal goals seem like a distant idea. But what if we turned personal goal setting into goal setting as a family? In lieu of focusing on just our goals, we would instead acknowledge that our personal and family goals are interconnected and dependent on one another.
In this post, I share the power of goal setting as a family and how to put your New Year’s resolutions into practice while getting the whole family involved.
The Importance of Goal Setting as a Family
The ability to goal set is a helpful life skill. It empowers you to reflect, make changes and progress. Unfortunately, traditional goal setting is individualistic and in a family setting, very trying.
Being a family is about being a team and working together to create a happy life for the whole family. Goal setting as a family helps us do just that. It also has other benefits. There is more shared responsibility, more encouragement and more accountability. Each member of the team plays a part in reaching the family goals and benefits from the process. It also teaches children the invaluable practice of setting goals and working toward them.
While individual goal setting has its place, goal setting as a family is important for growth as a cohesive and contented family.
Steps to Goal Setting as a Family
The below steps explain goal setting as a family. Know that you can either go through these steps with your partner or as a whole family depending on the age of your children.
Know your Values
Before you start goal setting as a family, you need to think about your family values.
Values are bigger themes in your life while goals are specific actionable desires that fall into those themes. Before you can decide on specific goals, you first need to have a clear picture of what your values are.
Start by writing a list of all of your values. Write out anything that comes to mind. You may share some of the following values or come up with your own: Family; Friendship; Community; Physical Health; Emotional Wellness; Romance; Financial Security; Personal Development.
Once you have your list of values, look it over and choose 3 values that you want to focus on this year.
I recommend doing this step separately and then sharing your values with your partner. You can then agree upon 3 values together. You may find that you share very similar values and have just worded them a little differently.
They say that you need to know where you’ve been to know where you are going. Think of reflecting as gleaning a deeper understanding of where you have been. Reflecting is a very important aspect of goal setting as a family because it helps you move forward.
When reflecting, think about what worked this year and what didn’t. Think of your values. What aspects feel awesome and healthy within a specific value? What aspects feel toxic or chaotic? What habits or routines just don’t feel right?
Be honest in your reflection about what is and isn’t working.
Again, this is an activity that you can do individually and then share with your partner. You can also involve older children by asking them specific questions to prompt reflection. Younger children have more difficulty reflecting back on a big chunk of time. It’s better to ask them how they feel on a daily basis to model reflection.
Set your Goals
After reflecting and discussing as a family, you should have a pretty good idea of what changes you would like to make this year.
Write down one specific goal for each of the 3 values. For example, if one of your values is health, your current goal may be to eat healthy and nutritious meals.
You are going to set a total of 3 goals. Typically, we set too many goals and don’t have a realistic way to achieve them. Instead, you will set one specific goal within each of your 3 values. This will allow you to really focus on achieving your goal through a series of reasonable actions.
When choosing your goals, keep in mind that they should be specific, realistic, worded in the positive and they should be YOUR family goals.
Depending on the age of your children, this can be a step that they are involved in.
Older children can brainstorm different goals that may be personal or related to the whole family. Younger children can help write out the specific goals you decide upon and post them in a prominent space so the family is reminded of the goals.
Make an Action Plan
Writing goals down is one thing. Putting your goals into action is another. That’s where your action plan comes in. Think of your action plan, as the activities that help you reach your goal.
I recommend brainstorming 3-5 actions for each goal that you make.
Example Value: Health
Goal: Eating healthy and nutritious meals
Action: Meal plan as a family.
Action: Go to neighborhood Farmer’s Market after meal planning.
Action: Make a dinner schedule taking turns cooking as a family.
This is a great step to involve children in. Your children can help brainstorm actions to help the family reach its goal (what they can do personally and what the whole family can do). Of course there may be times that you have to set some actions or rules and children will have to get on board. Other times, children will be the ones leading the charge.
Once you have the actions written down, go over them as a family and discuss how you are going to implement those actions. You can break your actions down even further into who is in charge of which aspects of the plan.
Get organized so that you can meet your actions within the first week of setting them.
Now it’s time to be consistent and get started on those action plans. I recommend checking in on goals weekly especially at the beginning. It will help keep everyone on track and also keep everyone accountable.
How do you feel its going? How do your children feel? What actions are working and what actions need a new strategy?
Remember the action plans are the whole family’s responsibility. It’s not one parent’s responsibility to keep everyone on track. While it may take some reminding at the beginning, it’s important that the whole family be involved.
Delegate responsibility with chore charts and give children differently responsibilities each week to help meet the family goals. This way you are acknowledging that it takes the whole family to reach the goals (and taking some stress off your shoulders).
Celebrate and Reassess
As time passes, know that your family may feel that it has reached the goal. That’s awesome! Take a moment to celebrate and acknowledge that success as a family.
Talk about what you’ve been enjoying about working toward that goal. Ask your children what they have enjoyed and how they feel. It’s amazing to ask children such a simple question and then listen to really hear them express themselves. It’s also a powerful process for children to be able to express themselves.
Know that you can reassess certain goals. You may want to add a new goal under the same value or focus on a completely different value. Reassess as a family knowing that life is in constant flux and we have to bend with the changes.
Goal setting as a family and making changes are always possible. You can start new habits and practices at home any time of the year.
I would love to hear from you! How do you set and implement goals as a family in your home?