Busy Lives Can Frustrate Family’s Ability to Set Goals

CERRITOS, CA (February 1, 2013) – Editor’s note: Sheréa VéJauan serves as director of children’s ministry at Newsong Los Angeles Covenant Church and also heads her own public relations/marketing agency. She guides The Goal Setter’s Club, a coaching organization that teaches goal-setting to youth and families. This month’s column focuses on the family.

By Sheréa VéJauan

It’s an understatement to say that today’s family is busy. Individual members spend most of their time working, going to school, and engaging in extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, most of these responsibilities and pursuits seem to always compete with the family’s face time, which leaves little room to focus on goals as a unit.

In 2010, I started a tradition to combat the demanding life that my own family was leading. Every year in January we have a goal setting workshop. (Even though we start in January, you can start anytime). The idea is to open up the lines of communication and help each family member to know each other’s visions, goals, and dreams.

The first two Saturdays of the month are set aside for personal goal setting. The third Saturday is all about family, where we focus on what we want to accomplish together in the coming year.

The workshop kicks off with a huge family breakfast. Planning with hunger pains is futile, so I also schedule a couple of breaks for snacks and lunch. To get the creativity flowing, I place baskets of magazines, markers, construction paper, stickers, glue, and scissors, along with a few different goal-setting worksheets out on the tables. We also start with a brand new goals journal that we use to help keep us on track to having a successful and prosperous New Year.

During our workshop, we set goals in twelve different areas of our lives, including financial, spiritual, and personal development. The highlight of our goals workshop is the making of vision boards, which are decorative and pictorial reflections of each goal. And, of course, we end with food just like we started – successfully concluding our workshop with a big family dinner in celebration of anticipated success. These workshops have been amazing and life changing for my entire family, and I hope to continue them for many years to come.

Here are a few tips to help you begin your own family goal setting routine:

  • Start small – You don’t have to make your goals workshop as grand as we do, but start somewhere. When you first begin, try planning a single afternoon. It doesn’t have to be long to be effective or memorable.
  • Stay simple – If you are new to this, first wet your feet with no more than three meaningful yet simple goals. For example: walk together each evening, save loose change to buy a gift for a needy family, attend church together as a family, learn a scripture each week, have dinner together at least once a week, create a family cookbook, plan a family vacation together
  • Get visual – Tap into your family’s artistic side by making a vision board. Use photos, drawings, clip art, stylized words, etc. – whatever it takes to inspire you and your family to keep moving towards your goals. Hang it in the family room or other common area as a constant reminder.
  • Enlist support – We all need encouragement. What better way to stay accountable and reinforce your family’s resolve than to recruit another family to join you? Host a joint goal-setting workshop and sprinkle other fun and purposeful activities throughout the year to help both families stay the course.
  • Apply focus – Weekly focus days add a predictable and regular routine for accomplishing goals. A few ideas are Family Fun Friday, Family Workout Wednesday, Meatless Monday, etc.
  • Review regularly – It doesn’t end once your family goals have been set. In order to benefit from continued growth and success, it’s vital to begin to regularly schedule family meetings. Use the meetings to review your vision boards and goals journals to continually assess progress.

We meet weekly since so much can happen in seven days such as sports, music class, church, school activities, and work. We start with reviewing everyone’s weekly calendar and combining it onto a family calendar that can be shared or posted somewhere in the house.

If getting together weekly seems too daunting, at least do a monthly check-in and begin with the monthly calendar review. Just remember to keep it quick, fun, and rewarding.

Reviews might coincide with dinnertime. We incorporate one of my routines called “Table Topic Tuesday.” Get a jar, write various topics on small pieces of paper, put them in a jar, and have each family member pick one. This is a great way to start a conversation with your family.

Here’s a possible “agenda” for these regular review sessions.

Start with reviewing all the entries in different calendars. I ask my family to bring their personal calendars – I don’t want to be surprised about a big event at school the same day it takes place. If it’s not calendared in advance, I have an option to attend or not to attend (it’s a hard rule – but it works).

After reviewing the calendar, see if any of your current goals fit into what you are already doing. Your kids’ soccer practice might count towards their exercise goal. A scheduled lunch with a friend could be in your relationship goal plan.

Also, ask each family member what their goals are for the week, and how they can be supported, such as a family member maybe taking a very important test and needs support by keeping the house quiet and clean.

To be honest, getting the family together to commit to goal setting can be a bit of a challenge, But once you get the hang of it, it will help to overcome stress by creating balance in key areas and providing an automatic support system for all family members – each other.

To learn more about Sheréa VéJauan’s work, visit her website or email her.

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