The new year is up and running. Time for the new school semester, time to take down the hem on my little guy's pants (growing like a weed), time to say goodbye to candy canes and those little hot dogs from Trader Joe's that we only eat during the holidays, and to my recent discovery and dismay, time to clean the top of the refrigerator.
Let me be honest, though. For me, it is not time for New Year's resolutions.
I don't do New Year's resolutions. I can fall short day to day without an albeit well-intentioned promise to myself hanging over my head. I accept at 12:01 am each January 1 that it's just not gonna happen. So, just eat the Peanut M&Ms right now.
Make no mistake, though. This doesn't mean that I don't have goals for myself and for my family. Especially now that I share my home with two-- count 'em-- two teenagers (The PhD was freshly minted a week ago), the new year is a good time to consider creating a Family Mission Statement.
BusinessDirectory.com defines a mission statement as a written declaration of an organization's core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. In short, an organization's mission statement reflects its values. Likewise, a family's mission statement will reflect the family's values.
In the past, I have been part of teams tasked with creating a mission statement for schools. I have also been prompted in various professional workshops to create a personal mission statement for myself. No doubt, the principles of creating a mission statement in those settings can easily translate into creating a mission statement for a family.
If your family would like to give it a try, but you don't know how to start, here are a few suggestions.
Creating Your Mission Statement
First, turn off your gadgets, pop some popcorn, make some hot cocoa, get everyone together, and start talking.
Begin by translating the business-speak into family-speak.
An organization = the family.
Core purpose = the central reason for which something exists. In other words, identify what motivates you as a family.
Focus = the center of interest or activity, or your family's priorities.
Next, here are a few questions to guide your discussion and to help identify your core purpose and focus. Add any other questions that you believe get to the best of who you are.
What do you like best about our family?
What do we like best about our home?
What do we like best about each other?
What are our shared priorities as a family? (You can usually identify your priorities by pinpointing how you spend your time and money.)
What would we like to change or improve?
What are our shared aspirations as a family?
Begin Your Draft
By now, you're beginning to articulate what your family's core values are. You've known it all along, but now you're really zeroing in on what makes your family unique.
Ideally, you should be able to articulate your mission in one well-crafted sentence. It doesn't have to be too formal; no words like whereas or henceforth unless that's how you usually talk. In other words, use the everyday language of your family. Make it as serious, or as sentimental, or as whimsical as you like. Write it in verse, or create a work of art that incorporates key terms (what words kept popping up in your discussion?) that symbolize your family's mission. The bottom line: how you present your mission statement should authentically reflect who you are as a family.
If your having trouble beginning, give these sentence starters a try:
Our family's mission is to...
In our home, we...
In our family, we...
Our family is...
Display Your Mission Statement
This is a living document. Don't write it up then, shove it into the desk drawer. Instead, keep the collaboration going by making a visual presentation. Get creative with a framed poster, a creative bulletin board or a vision board; incorporate your favorite family photos; paint it on the wall inside your front door so that it's the first thing everyone sees. Even a prominent place on the fridge with decorative magnets will do.
Let Us Know How It Worked Out
MMWW would love to see what you've created together. Share your Family Mission Statements in the comments section below.