It’s that time of year again—the time when we reflect on the year behind us and look forward to the year ahead of us. In January, everyone will be talking about their resolutions. Statistics show, however, that the vast majority of people will fall off their resolution wagon before the end of the month.
I don’t believe in resolutions, really. But I do believe in aspirations, goals and objectives.
In coaching Mike Byrd, the founder of The Merger, it has become clear to me that he has a passion for teenagers and their relationships with their parents and guardians. That lead me to think about family goal setting. I don’t know about you, but this isn’t a topic I hear many people discuss, which means even fewer people are actually doing it! Mike and I want to help your family be as effective as you can be.
To create some structure for this blog article, I’m going to use the five famous journalism questions of who, what, when, where, and why. BUT—we’re going to start with the end in mind—we’re going to start with the WHY!
WHY do you create family goals? The goals provide clarity for your family. Your clarity will help you make decisions. When you know why, you’re more compelled to work toward your goals. You are able to have all the members of your family on the same page so you’re all working toward the same goals. When we have goals, we are much more likely to live our best lives and be our best selves. Finally, when we focus on the outcome of the goal, our why becomes too strong to ignore.
Now we can go back to “WHO”. Perhaps the parents have goals as a couple. They have goals as a pair of parents. Each parent may have their own individual goals. Single parents have goals for themselves as individuals, as parents, and as a family. The child/ren have individual goals, or goals as siblings, or as members of the family system. Each individual or couple may have goals, but the family needs overarching goals to work toward as well.
So, WHAT exactly are goals and HOW do we create family goals? To begin, I would encourage each person to brainstorm individually what they want for themselves and their family over the next year. Then when everyone comes together they have something to be able to talk about. Obviously, some young children may need the other members of the family to ask them questions to determine what they want in 2017. Some questions you might ask yourselves are a.) what do you want from your life, b.) what do you want to be different in 2017, c.) what do you want more of in 2017, d.) what do you want less of in 2017, e.) what are your dreams and aspirations, f.) how do you want to feel. In answering these questions, focus on the positive! For example, if you said you want less drama in your relationships in 2017, reframe that to say “I would like more peace in my relationships”. Or perhaps someone says “I want to have less fighting in our household in 2017”. That could be turned into “I want more effective communication between the members of this household”. Once each person has some time to brainstorm their own ideas, the family will come together to discuss them and determine which ones the family will choose to pursue. Aiming for five to seven goals with deadlines throughout the year will likely be challenging and attainable for most families.
Many of us have heard of SMART goals, but Michael Hyatt discusses SMARTER goals. Let me explain. Each of your goals should be:
S-Specific (clear and easy to explain)
M-Measurable (be able to know if that item has happened and to what extent)
A-Actionable/Achievable (you can take steps TODAY toward your goal)
R-Realistic (attainable but just outside of your comfort zone)
T-Timely/Time Bound (create a deadline for the steps and end goal)
E-Exciting/Energizing (it must be something that gets your excited or fired up)
R-Relevant (related to your life, something that would make your life better)
First, you’ll dream a little… How do you see your relationships on your best days? How do you feel when you’re together? What do you hope for your children? Many of your answers will be too big and too broad to act on. These would be visions or aspirations. Write them down. Then choose some things that would have to happen for your vision or aspiration to come true? Write these down. These are likely your goals. Now, determine some smaller steps that would lead to the achievement of this goal. These are called objectives, or action steps. The goals and the objectives should have deadlines attached to them. It’s most effective if all the goals have different deadlines. Making the deadline for each goal as December 2017 means few or none of your goals will be achieved. They are too far away and too easy to neglect or forget to act on.
Now, let’s finish answering the questions and then I’ll give you some examples. WHEN should you create family goals. Truthfully, the beginning of the year is arbitrary! You can make goals any time. Maybe you achieve one goal and that creates another goal. Or your goals need adjusted. Nothing is etched in stone, so make your goals what you need them to be for your family to work on together. It doesn’t matter when you create them, it just matters that you do create them and then work to achieve them!
Finally, the question of WHERE to post the goals. My answer is…everywhere! Post them on the refrigerator. Write them with dry erase marker on your bathroom mirrors. Write them on post-it notes to hang on your computer, in your car, in your wallet. Post signs on your bedroom or office walls, even write them in your journal. Only the things we constantly think about and remember will receive our effort and attention.
Now it’s time to share some examples.
Improve Communications Within the Family (Aspiration)
Spend more quality time together (Aspiration)
Plan a family vacation for the summer of 2017 (Goal)
Research potential locations (objective)
Determine your budget (objective)
Determine possible dates (objective)
Reduce distractions when we’re spending time together (Goal)
No cell phones allowed during meal times (objective)
Hold Family Game nights 2 times per month (Goal)
Plan the dates with the family calendar (objective)
Choose games for the ages of the children in the family
Hold Parent Child dates 1 time per month (goal)
Choose which parent and which child will spend time together (objective)
Choose dates for the outings (objective)
Hold Parent date night 1 time per month (goal)
Determine dates (objective)
Schedule babysitters (objective)
Cook meals together 3 times per week (goal)
Make menus (objective)
When we are angry, we will still communicate respectfully (Aspiration)
Determine what behavior is appropriate when disagreeing or angry by the end of the month (goal)
Commit to doing these behaviors and practice them
Determine what behavior is not appropriate when disagreeing or angry by the end of the month (goal)
Commit to ending these behaviors
Buy a home by December 2017
Determine the amount of money needed by the end of January 2017
Reduce monthly expenses (monthly through 2017)
Reduce eating out from 4 times per month to 2 times per month
Reduce ordering food in from 4 times per month to 2 times per month
Shop at consignment and thrift stores for clothing rather than department stores
Create monthly budgets for food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, utilities, etc.
Abide by the budgets
Obviously, those are just two examples, and neither is completely fleshed out, but I hope it gives you some ideas for your family. If you have any questions, or would like to try out some life coaching, please come to my Facebook page at Grounded Vision Coaching and Consulting. Check out my Facebook Live videos and message me there. If you’re not on Facebook, please feel free to email me at .
Here’s to 2017 being your best year yet. I hope it’s full of love, laughter, friendship, prosperity, support, goal setting, and goal achievement.
Nikki Tobias, PhD, CLC
Grounded Vision Coaching and Consulting
Facebook, You Tube: Grounded Vision Coaching and Consulting