It’s easy to sink away for a few days with your team to strategize and come back invigorated and ready to take on a new year. But we spend so much time planning our business goals that we often forget something way more important: our family goals. Did you ever think that, perhaps, applying the same business retreat methods to your family could have a lasting positive effect? Because it does.
In my house, we take our quarterly couples retreat seriously especially when planning the year ahead. Every December, my husband and I take 3-4 disconnected days away to regroup, refresh and get to work designing the following year, from travel plans to family theme word for the year, to goals and aspirations. Without this time away, many of our family ideas and plans would fall to the wayside and be forgotten entirely.
I believe we should manage our family like a business (because we all like profits anyway!), so doing your due diligence and mapping out the year ahead contributes to a more stable, exciting, loving, adventurous, and organized family life. This isn’t for the woo-woo or for those who don't like change. This annual planning is for the families that want to step up their game and start making a difference in their life, for their community and for those they inspire.
So, ahead of the new year, I thought I would share my secrets in how we plan our year and how you can implement the same routine for your family going forward. But before we get started, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
Focus on the entire year. While your plans will change throughout the course of the year, by putting your ideas and schedules into place ahead of time, you can quickly see what is, and is not, a priority (or as I call it a “F*ck yeah decision”). Last minute - amazing - invite to yet another conference in October? Where are you then and it is more F*ck yeah-ish than your current plans?
Take an entire two-days to plan out the year. And DISCONNECT! These aren’t called disconnected retreats for no reason. Yes, you will need to access your calendar. Yes, you will need to verify event details. Yes, you will need to browse the internet for something -- all cool, but only do it as it relates to your planning. You need to take time and create the space to be relaxed and creative. Break out the colored markers, white paper and get to work!
Plan with the best intentions. We can’t control certain circumstances, i.e., you’re pregnant and due halfway through the year, or your sister got engaged, and now you’re rushing to plan the engagement party. Life happens! But PLAN FOR THAT! Put your best intentions forward and work around the hiccups.
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower
Step #1 Setting Your Intention
If you had all the secret powers in the world to plan out the most epic family year ever, what experiences, projects, events, and routines would you write down? What would a perfect year look like? That’s the framework we are going for here.
Set Your Intention
According to many spiritual gurus and leaders in the field, good luck, health, success, and abundance don’t come to you by accident. You make those things come to fruition with your thoughts and actions. Your subconscious mind is to blame for the outcome of most events, good or bad. If you're in a negative state of mind, you will manifest an undesired result. So, as you go into this retreat, come equipped with a positive mindset. Check your worry and anxiety at the door and really think through what is possible.
I like to use mantra’s to get me in the right state of mind. Write something down like:
I am the best mom ever
My family is my priority
I am mindful and present
I am focusing my energy on what I can accomplish in the present moment and not dwelling on mistakes from the past.
I am enough
I am successful in everything I set out to accomplish
Say your mantra out loud ten times, alone. Repeat it until it’s stored in your memory.
Now share it with your significant other.
Hack: Create a little jingle of your intention. It will help you remember it and can become a tool you use daily to get into a positive state of mind.
Step #2 The Setup
Now that you are in a positive mindset, it’s time to get to work. Here are the things you need to get started:
Large pieces of paper/bristol board
Notebook and pen
Printouts of the worksheets
Lay out all the tools on a large table, turn off your electronics, turn on the music, light your candle, say your intention and get to work. Take 10-minute breaks where you need, but try not to leave the planning session until it’s all over. The idea is to get into a state of flow to hash out your annual plan.
Avoid distractions! If you have to check your calendar or search for something online, do it quickly and avoid the shiny red notifications. All ‘connected’ work must be completed rapidly and efficiently - you aren’t here to browse!
Hack: Bring your favorite smelling candle with you and light it throughout the exercise. Smells have a stronger link to memory and emotion than any other senses. So the sent of the candle will remind you of your family planning.
Step #3 Brainstorming the Big Rocks
“To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.”
― A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Declaring your biggest intentions
We are now ready to rock! Sitting down comfortably at a big table, let’s get cracking.
Your big rocks are the three main things you want to focus on or accomplish in the coming year. They have to be realistic, achievable, documented and shared. This is not the time to say “buy a Ferrari” unless that is realistic and necessary. Your big rocks set the stage for the rest of the planning, and this is why we do this first.
Answer the following questions:
What are the three BIG things you want to accomplish as a family this year?
Example: Experience two new countries, go skiing in the Alps, homeschool, start a family business, volunteer 10 hours/week, meditate 10 minutes every day...
Declare your top five personal yearly goals.
I suggest weighing the goals like this: One family goal, one personal goal, one relationship goal, one business goal and one other goal (Health, nutrition, learning...)
Everything you do as a family will now be geared towards these goals. Don’t just spit out anything that sounds good. Really put some thought into this; can you afford it? Do you have the time for it? Is it really something you aspire to achieve or does it simple look good on paper?
Hash out the big rocks, then hash then out again and again until you decide on the best three that make the most sense to you and your family.
Step #3 Your Family Mission Statement and Values
Creating a vision to live by
Creating an epic mission statement and determining your family values will help everyone understand the WHY of your family’s dreams. If you have young kids, this will help guide them. If you have older kids, they will get a better sense of why you do things the way you do and what to expect from you and the rest of the family (They could even contribute here).
Your family values and mission is something that you refer to every week. It’s something that you stand for as a team and a family. Companies have been identifying their values and missions for decades. So why should it be different for families? The goal is to create a very clear and compelling statement about what your family is all about. It’s something everyone can agree with and identify with.
Create it as though it was a business (because it is your business). Below are some example family values and mission statements.
To inspire other families to pursue a lifelong journey of exploration,
personal development (growth), and accountability in order to better serve their community and family unit.
5. Spiritual Awareness
Step #4 Deciding on Your Annual Theme Word
Every year focus on a key theme word for the year. For example, last year our word was education. Two years ago it was discovery. This year, it’s adventure. Find a word that embodies your family’s focus for the year and everyday work towards it. Place the keyword on your fridge, on your phone’s background, and anywhere else you look every day. Make it a daily reminder that your family has a yearly theme.
The purpose of the theme word is to seek and schedule activities around that word. During our year of discovery, for example, we took it upon ourselves to get outside more and become curious about the world around us. We brought our kids into the woods more often, tried new foods and new routines, and played different sports. During our year of education, we focused on a homeschooling curriculum and implemented new routines into our daily life that helped us learn and retain more information (I started reading 10-pages/day because of that year's theme word, still do).
Find your theme word and schedule activities, trips and games around it as a family.
Here are some great examples to help you out:
Step # 5 Determining Your Non-Negotiables
Crossing off what you will no longer do. Keeping what’s a must.
Just as it is essential to write down the things you want to achieve, so is eliminating the tasks/events/projects you shouldn’t be doing. As a mother, this is one of the hardest things to do. But you have to determine what you are willing to delegate, what you are ready to stop doing entirely, and what you want back (or keep doing).
What tasks are you done with? (making the kid's school lunches!!)
What is a must-do no matter what? (working out!)
What tasks should you be offloading to someone else? (laundry! and sales follow-up calls)
What experiences do you need more of? (date nights with my man/lady!)
What health changes need to become the norm in your family life? (Eat more greens!)
What fitness routines must happen? (CrossFit 4x/week!)
Let go of the mundane crap that is stalling your success and replace it with solid plans for health, wellness and personal/family growth.
Hack: Write down your most important non-negotiable on a separate piece of paper and tape it to your fridge. Share it with your family. Let them know that this will be the new norm and you’re not budging!
Step #6 Pulling It All Together
The vision board
Now it’s time to get crafty. Some people like to cut things out of a magazine. I love to create a digital reminder for my goals, so I use Keynote. Regardless of how you want to do this, it’s time to build (yes, a very cliched) vision board! (See my example below)
Creating your vision board
Choose 3-5 words that have the most meaning to you. (Feel free to use your family values here as well)
Find a couple of quotes that suit your annual goal.
Search for the right picture that embodies what it is that you are trying to achieve.
Put them all into your board in an organized manner.
Refer to this visual reminder daily or weekly. You always need to remind yourself what it is you’re working towards. By tucking it away somewhere and not reviewing it until December 31st, you have lost the battle. Print it out or put it as your desktop image - you want to look at it as much as possible.
“Where focus goes, energy flows.” ― Tony Robbins
The poster board
I have to credit Tony Robbins for this step. At Date With Destiny three years ago, at the time of this post, he had us write our plan on a poster and share it with our group. I LOVE this technique because it forces you to chose every word wisely and has you make sense of all your thoughts.
It’s time to take your creativity, and penmanship, to the next level. With the poster board you brought, divide the board into these sections:
Family Mission Statement
Top five personal goals for the year
Now write in your wise words. use different colors and feel free to sketch some fun images.
What type of person do you need to be to make next year shine?
How do you need to show up?
After reviewing your plan to date, ask yourself what type of person you need to be in order to make 2019 your best year yet.
Are there things you need to let go of (old friendships or limiting beliefs?)
When you look back at the work you just completed, do things scare you? Do you feel constrained or motivated?
Remember, your goals need to be attainable. Not easy, but realistic and achievable.
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. - Zig Ziglar
Not everything you write down will, or should, excite you. There will be things you must do to achieve your dream family life. But once you start putting these new plans into place and you start seeing the results, it will push you further. Those ‘tasks’ will now become routine, so much so that you will even forget you're doing them. That’s the point.
So tell me, how do you feel about your plan so far? Is it done and ready to be shared?
If you answer YES then wrap up and get home. It’s time to share these plans with your family!
Photo by Brooke Cagle