Many parents mistakenly think that setting family goals begins and ends with the adults. Yes, the adults better understand the logistics of how to make a family function. The adults set the tone of the family. If the adults are stressed, pessimistic, and negative the household will be a ticking time bomb of volatile emotions. If the parents are kind, generous, patient and hopeful that will rub off on the children as well.
No matter how great your parenting is there are universal behaviors of children that make them particularly well suited to being involved in family goal setting conversations. Children are impulsive, curious, and big dreamers. Your kids are far less likely to stifle their dream based annoyances like other people’s opinions or practical complications like not having enough time or money.
Children are the yin to the parents yang. They will amp up the boldness of your family goals while the adults tone them down with all their practicalness. But your kids will never have the opportunity to bring their big visions if you don’t include them in the conversation.
Personal Goal Board
If you have never done a vision board before, I strongly suggest you make your first one. You can call it a dream board, goal setting visual aide, or manifestation collage, I don’t care. What you decide to call it is of no consequence. The point of the creation is to get ideas out of your head and onto paper.
I like to use poster board or foam board, whatever is on sale at Office Depot. All you need is a glue stick, scissors, and stack of magazines. Ask your social media friends or post on a neighborhood group asking for old magazines if you don’t have any.
Start by jotting down in pencil directly on the poster board:
- 2 money goals (Something that money can buy. i.e. new car, kitchen remodel, family vacation)
- 2 personal goals (Something about you. i.e. losing weight, reading books, eliminating a habit)
- 2 relationship goals (Something about you and another person. i.e. spending time with an aging relative, re-connecting with a college friend, taking time for date nights)
- 2 professional goals (Something about your career. i.e. attending a conference, taking a class that will increase your income, landing a promotion)
Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish for this year, open up those magazines and start cutting. This is your board, so don’t overthink it. Find letters, colors, or images that represent your yearly goals. Nobody else needs to know what your collage means.
Family Goal Setting
Now that you have the hang of the goal board process, it’s time to involve your family. In order to be on the same page, all adults in the family should come together and discuss what the year will look like. Big changes like new babies, moving, or changing careers should all be discussed prior to involving the children.
Set family goals big enough to get everyone excited and detailed enough that the path to execution is clear. Don’t spend this time getting weighted down by every obstacle preventing you from reaching your family goals. Instead, treat this conversation like a brainstorming session.
There will be enough logistical junk making your goals seem impossible, don’t squash the possibility of success before you even try.
Talk to Your Kids
To begin with you will explain your individual goal board. Discuss openly with your kids the ideas you have for the upcoming year. Focus on not being a “no” parent. Be open and encouraging to big, bold, beyond reasonable goals from your kids. Don’t shoot down ideas during this dialogue.
Think of your role as the art gallery director. You’ll see a lot of art and it is your responsibility to pick the best art to hang on the wall. When you hear an idea that seems a little crazy but at the same time doable, try to encourage your child to focus on that idea. Ask them questions about your preferred vision, give them positive reinforcement, and focus on how you can work together as a family to make that come to reality.
Your family goal board will be larger because it includes more people. Include one professional, money, personal, and relationship goal from each adult. Children will contribute one money, personal, and relationship goal. As children get older they may start to create professional goals like launching a business venture, be open to that.
On the poster board, give each person an area to decorate with their 3-4 family goals. Write in pencil what that person had finalized as their professional (not for young children), money, personal, and relationship goals. Then get to cutting.
Set Yearly Family Goals
I try to re-focus my family with this activity every year. It’s not always so organized to happen right before New Years. We feel out the vibe and flow of our family and set family goals whenever our last goals come to their natural conclusion.
When the kids were little their money goals looked like local amusement parks or popular toys. Their personal goals were usually about reading or breaking a habit. Relationship goals often were about getting along as sisters or spending time with a particular friend.
Now that the kids are getting older the goals have gotten bigger. A money goal now looks like spending the summer in Dominican Republic or getting an Apple Watch. Personal goals this year include stop biting nails and learning to do the splits. Now that we move so often, relationship goals are now focused on staying connected with friends from around the globe.
Dream Everyday as a Family
Once you get in the habit of creating family goals, you can make it a daily habit. When anyone in the family has an idea, talk it out as a family. Ask how it could happen, not why it should happen. One member of your family wanting it should be enough of a why.
Be a family of problem solvers instead of problem identifiers.
I remember once, my older daughter was frustrated that there was no Starbucks near where we lived. She announced she wanted to open a Starbucks in our city. A quick Google search revealed that franchises were no longer offered by her favorite cafe. But, I didn’t let that be the end. We drove around all morning scouting possible locations and discussing details like access to clean water or how to hire staff. Follow the dream and problem solve solutions instead of knee jerk no reactions.
Your family dream will be as unique as a snowflake. Find the time to let everyone’s voices be heard and valued during the process.