This is our purpose: to make as meaningful as possible this life that has been bestowed upon us, to live in such a way that we may be proud of ourselves, to act in such a way that some part of us lives on.
– Oswald Spengler, German Philosopher
Families visit our website everyday looking for practical easy solutions for conquering the chaos of their lives and we pride ourselves on giving our visitors what they need and want. And even though we spend a lot of time writing about managing the daily realities of everyday family life, we also believe it is important that families take the time to define who they are as a family and what they want from life. Because in the end, no daily routine, home organizing product, cleaning schedule or family calendar is going to give families true fulfillment. Fulfillment comes from the relationships we build, the goals we achieve, and the character of our beings. So this is why we spend an equal amount of time teaching families to set family goals, tackle the yeah but’s, and write family vision and mission statements. All of which we hope will help families and parents look deep into their lives and define who they are as individuals and as a family.
What is a Family Vision and Mission Statement?
A family vision and mission statement is an articulation of a family’s values, goals, and character. Through the process of creating and writing a mission statement, families will define who they are as individuals and as a family, have a clearer understanding of their priorities, and hopefully gain some peace in having a plan. Made up of both a vision, a visual depiction of your ideal life, and a mission statement, is the vision expressed in words, both are designed to help you articulate what you want your life and family to be and keep you rooted in your priorities.
Establishing a Direction – The Family Vision Statement
The first fundamental of defining who you are is to establish a direction or what we will call a family vision.
The family vision is a visual depiction of your ideal family life; a picture of what you see when you start with the end if mind. What does happiness look like for your family? What does your picture look like when all family members are fulfilled? What do we want for our family and for each other? What does success look like? What does our vision look like when all needs are met? It is through the process of creating a family vision that we establish the direction or map for our family.
Things you will Need to Complete the Family Vision
Markers or pens
A tabletop easel pad (check your local office supply store) or a notepad no smaller than 8 ½ x 11
Approximately 1 – 2 Hours of your family’s time
Things to Keep in Mind
- Families are made up of individuals with different needs and wants and everyone’s needs and wants need to be included.
- Children have needs and wants though they may not be able to verbally express them.
- There is no pre-set definition of family. You will need to define what family is to you and who to include in the process.
- For families with both parents present, remember, marriage is an important aspect of every family and should be considered when completing the vision.
- Be honest with each other and yourself.
Creating the Family Vision
Starting with a clean sheet of paper, ask each family member these questions:
What makes you happy? What are those things in life that put a smile on your face and get you through your difficult days?
For some this may be having family nights, children who don’t fight and are kind to one another, that first cup of coffee in the morning, playing with our friends, or going on long walks with our spouse. After giving everyone a few moments to think the question over, select a family member to go first. This family member begins by choosing a spot on the blank paper to draw a picture of what makes them happy. Remember to refrain from judging. Every family member has a right to their own thoughts and feelings and shouldn’t be judged for their ideas.
After all family members have had a chance to draw out their ideas; it is time to move onto a new blank sheet of paper and the next question.
What makes us fulfilled? What are those things in life that bring us the most satisfaction and leave us with the feeling of completeness?
For example, this may be something like getting a promotion at work, volunteering our time at our favorite charity, learning a new skill, or watching our children accomplish new things. For school aged children this may be something like getting good grades, scoring goals or hitting homeruns, or volunteering their time. Preschool aged children may have a little difficulty with this question because it is hard for them to understand what it means to be fulfilled, so to help them try restating it for them in more concrete terms like what makes you most proud? What things do you do that make you most want to tell mom and dad about? What things make you feel most safe? For children this age, a sense of fulfillment comes from some of the more basic needs in life; needs like love, safety, and accomplishment.
Now that we have tackled the things that make us happy and fulfilled, it’s time to move on to those things in life that we want. Starting with a new sheet of blank paper, ask each family member
What do we want for ourselves and for our family? What are our hopes, dreams, aspirations not only for our family, but for ourselves has well?
For example we may want to take a lot of exciting vacations as a family or to have a successful thriving business. Or we may want to continue or grow our faith or maybe retire at the age of 55? These are the things inside of us we would most like to have in our lives. This is your chance to include all of those dreams and desires that you can’t seem to fit into your current life or you are not sure how to go about realizing.
By the end of this first step in the process, you should have a completed family vision drawing encompassing the elements of happiness, fulfillment, and aspirations. It’s time now to move on to using the family vision to create a family mission statement.
Creating a Family Mission Statement
A family mission statement is a verbal description of what you want your life and family to be; a priority list for your family and your life. How are we going to live our lives? What are we going to use to help us make major decisions? What are our priorities? Are we spending the majority of our time on our priorities or are we being distracted with things that aren’t important to us? It is these life decisions a family mission statement can help answer.
Finding the Themes
Begin by taking some time to look over your family vision drawing. What are the major themes, overall ideas, and messages that come out over the 3 separate drawings? Using a blank sheet of paper, write down the themes. Themes will be different for every family. An example of a theme that you may find is learning new things, being active in your faith, helping others, visiting and learning about new places, accomplishing new things, giving your best, being financially secure, and finding fulfillment in your professional life. Don’t stop to edit or analyze just write them down. So go through and look for the overall ideas and messages. Write them down. Depending on the ages and interests of your kids, this may be best done by either both or one parent and then reported back to the family at the next meeting. These themes will be used to write the family mission statement.
Writing the Family Mission Statement
Now that you have your list of themes, it is time to write the family mission statement. Once again, depending on the ages and interest of your kids, it may be easier for a parent to take the first crack at writing this and then share it with the rest of the family for discussion, agreement, and changes. To make it a bit easier to write, we are going to write our family mission statement in 3 pronged format
To…. (Do something)
In such a way that….. (Quality of action)
So that…. (We gain these results or benefits)
Here is an example:
To realize our dreams, goals, and aspirations as a family and as individuals in a way that stretches our intellect, enriches our Christian faith, strengthens our character, and enriches our family life. So that we are fulfilled, happy, confident, and always close.
The first part of a family mission statement should contain the action. What is your family going to do? What specific steps or actions are you going to make? What are the specific efforts you are going to make as a family? In our example the action is “to realize our dreams, goals, and aspirations as a family and as individuals”. Another example might be “to treat each other with respect and love” or “to communicate more effectively” or “to learn new things and new cultures”. Just remember to make it very action oriented – something that requires effort on the part of each and every family member.
In such a way that….this is the quality of our action. In what manner are we going to accomplish this? In a way that gets us what we want no matter what? In a way that nurtures our spirit? In a way that gets us the fastest results possible? In a way that is comfortable to all family members? In a way that lets us be creative? In a way that uses our individual skills and abilities? In a way that everyone can participate? In our example the quality is “stretches our intellect, enriches our Christian faith, strengthens our character, and enriches our family life” So every action we take to “realize our dreams and goals” is going to be done in a way that allows us to learn new things, deepens our faith, makes our family life better, and makes us better people.
The third part, so that, is where you capture the results of your actions. What do you want to come out of all of this? Strong independent kids? Successful and happy parents? Caring actively involved kids? A better marriage? A closer relationship with your kids? In our example the results are “so that we are fulfilled, happy, confident, and always close.”
Once you have your family vision drawing and family mission statement completed, you need to find a few
central places to post them so that you remember to use them in everyday life. You may choose to frame them, add them to your family journal, post them to a personal website, or simply hang them on your refrigerator. If you are creative, you also might want to use your creativity to reproduce the vision drawing into something reflective of your talents. For example if you are a painter, try using the family vision drawings to paint a new picture that can be framed above the fireplace. If you are a graphic artist, try using your grapic skills to create a visual image to be framed or posted to a website. Just be sure to post them in many spots and in central spots so that they remain the focus of your family’s attention.