One Family, One Vision: An Important Conversation to Have with Your Children this January
Updated: a day ago
At Good People we love the beginning of a brand new year - like a blank sheet of paper, a reset and a fresh new start, full of possibilities. But if 2020 taught us anything, it was that, despite our best-laid plans, life is unpredictable. If we make “New Year’s resolutions”, however well intentioned, they may very easily get derailed and end in disappointment.
So, what if we threw out New Year’s resolutions, and replaced them with an intentional conversation around the dinner table about setting goals - for the whole family - that we can hold ourselves accountable to, no matter what happens in the world this year.
Rather than an obscure wish list of achievements for the year, let’s simplify our vision, break the conversation down into a few measurable goals, and then set a plan for how we’re going to achieve them - together.
Have you sat down with your children yet this year to have this important conversation? We have some tips for making it go smoothly.
Choose a moment free of distraction
You want to involve the whole family in this conversation - from the littlest to the biggest - so choose a moment when everybody is relaxed and open, when you can put your devices to one side, and when nobody is asking for snacks or arguing over toys. If you “front-load” your children at the beginning of the conversation - i.e. tell them what it’s going to be about and what you hope to get out of it - you can set their expectations and help them stay focused. The whole conversation doesn’t have to take long, but it needs to be a moment of quality time for all of you.
Simplify and be specific.
When setting goals with children we recommend simplifying the process and zoning in three key areas: a skill goal, a happiness goal, and a shared family goal. You may like to set it up like this:
You could swap these categories out for an academic goal (to achieve a good grade in a problem school subject, or to learn a new language), a financial goal (perhaps your 7-year-old wants a new bike or your teenager is saving for a car), or anything else that may come out in your conversation. The important thing is to focus on just a few key areas, and have your children identify for themselves what needs to be done to achieve their goals. Remember, if it’s their idea, they’re much more likely to follow through than if it’s your idea.
Everybody plays a role
It’s important for everyone to understand that all of the goals agreed on in this conversation are a joint effort – even the individual ones. If your twelve-year-old wants to improve his tennis game, a parent has to be available to take him to the court to play more often. If you want to start writing your novel, your partner and children need to agree that during certain hours of the day you won’t be available to prepare snacks.
We are all stakeholders in each other’s success, and as such we all have “sign-off", supporting each other to reach our goals. This helps to teach our children the importance of teamwork, and to make them feel part of something bigger than themselves.
Personal development experts will talk about setting SMART goals - that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based (some will add -ER at the end, to suggest they should also be Evaluated and Reviewed after a set period). How you frame the process of setting goals will be different depending on the area of your life you’re focusing on and who you’re sharing them with, but all goals can be matched against these simple criteria, and even from a young age, children can be encouraged to think in these terms. It’s good practice for later, when the real world will demand this of them.
2021 is going to be “an attitude”
Rachel Hollis, author and motivational speaker, says (and we’re paraphrasing from her podcast episode), “Here’s the truth - you have never been in control of what happens around you – pandemic or not. All you are in control of is your attitude when it happens, how you behave, and what habits you have in place to get through uncertain times.” We can have a discussion with our kids that conveys this message with regard to their goals for the year – schools may close, holidays may be cancelled, soccer matches may not go ahead, but that shouldn’t change how we all conduct ourselves and what we strive to achieve during this year.
And Finally....NAME IT
What is THE ONE THING that this year is going to be about for your family? Is it "the year of outdoors", "the year of health", "the year of friends", "the year of new things", "the year of being on time", "the year of helping others"...?
As a family, choose ONE THING. Trust me, the rest will follow. We know a family who decided that 2020 was going to be the "year of friends". Granted, 2020 was not the easiest year to choose this particular one, but funnily enough, they were the most proactive family when it came to reinventing the way they invested in their friendships. For example, one morning as one of the children was preparing her bag for school and said, "Mom, I need extra chocolate cookies for school snack,". "Really, why?", was the reply. "It's not for me, it's for sharing. Remember, it's the year of friends!"
Why is this so effective? Because by having one central objective, it is easy to remember. There is accountability - family members will be quick to remind each other about the "year of...." (especially when it's in their favour). Most of all, it creates unity. Somehow, the whole family is bonded by this mutually agreed upon mission.
Our Good People family wishes you the best of luck and a very happy start to the year. We'd love to hear about the goals you and your family have set yourselves for 2021!
Good People is a domestic staffing agency specialising in introducing high quality household assistance. We provide a simple, fast and professional service to recruit trained and vetted staff who match your family values. To discuss what we can do for you, or to join the Good People Club, get in touch today.