By Jen Murphy
Every successful business has a mission statement. So why don’t families? Just like a business, families have goals, dreams, and a sense of purpose. Maybe it sounds a bit silly, or over the top, but families can create mission statements to establish or maintain goals, too! Creating a mission statement isn’t hard, and it can play a huge role in building a purpose-driven life.
In our family, we love to travel! So, of course, our mission includes creating a supportive environment for one another and for the world — exploring new things and traveling to different states and countries. We have found that talking about these ideas always gets us excited, provides a common purpose that we can all agree on, and gives each family member a sense of responsibility in the process.
For instance, one of our current goals is to visit China next year. In order to reach this goal, there are things each of us has to accomplish: My husband and I need to stay committed to living frugally to save extra money. My son and daughter need to save their spending money. We all need to research areas we would like to visit so we can plan our itinerary together, and each of us is going to attempt to learn some Chinese (at least a few words)! Sounds like a tall order, but we check in on each other regularly, report our accomplishments, and celebrate them as steps toward our goal. This process has been so rewarding, and I can hardly wait to see our goal realized when we board the plane for Beijing!
Here’s how you can build your family mission:
Be inclusive. Include everyone in the family. If some children are too young, have them listen and the parents can direct the conversation. The important thing is for each person to consider what the family would look like if it were the best family it could be.
Consider your options. What do you want to accomplish as a family? To have fun together? Establish loyalty to one another? Be supportive of one another’s dreams? Create a spirit of generosity in the community? Travel the world together? Your mission can include as much or as little as you’d like. It’s yours!
Make it fun. Vision boards are a creative way to express thoughts and feelings. Have a brainstorming session – use a dry-erase board or a giant sheet of paper. Have everyone shout out ideas that pop in their heads as goals. These can be academic goals, goals for participation on sports teams, or other extra-curricular activities. Write down every idea (you’ll organize them later). And don’t forget pictures… photos, magazine clippings, and hand-drawn pictures are all great options!
Organize. Once a mission is established, make a plan! What goals do you have? What steps can you take to reach your mission? What does that mean for each family member? Assign responsibilities, and hold everyone accountable for their part – a family needs everyone to reach its goals and achieve a mission!
Change as needed. If any changes have to be made, feel free to make them. After all, it’s your family’s mission, and it needs to work for everyone in the family!
Celebrate accomplishments. Check in on your goals. Use dinnertime, Saturday mornings, or whenever to give each other a pat on the back and acknowledge the good job everyone is doing.
Jen Murphy is a working mom with two teenagers. She has more than 20 years of experience working with at-risk youth and is a former middle school teacher. She and her family love living in northern Michigan with their chickens, goats and bees.
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