With nearly a month of 2019 already in the books, you may be tempted to think that it’s too late to start setting goals. After all, aren’t resolutions a New Year thing and isn’t this the time of year that those resolutions usually get left by the wayside?
Setting and Keeping Family Goals
In truth, that’s what makes this the perfect time of year to set some family goals. The newness of the year has worn off, and with it the expectation of failure. Most people make New Year’s Resolutions with hopeful attitudes, but also with the knowledge that they’re likely to fail. Now that we’ve reached the end of January, setting goals can become a more practical and thoughtful endeavor.
The following tips will not only help your family set goals, they will also help ensure that you actually reach them.
1. Set Categories
Before you jump into family goal setting, it helps to narrow your focus. Instead of randomly throwing ideas out, choose a few categories and plan to set one goal in each category. While you could make almost anything into a category, some ideas to get you started include Technology, Travel, Finances, Health, Reading, and Housework.
Once you’ve narrowed down your categories (we suggest no more than three or four to start), the fun part begins. One category at a time, start brainstorming potential goals. At this point, anything goes, no matter how big or unrealistic the ideas may be. The point of this exercise is to think of as many ideas as possible and to hear from every family member.
3. Cull the List
After coming up with a good list of possibilities for each category, it’s time to cull them down until you’ve chosen one goal per category. This doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the other ideas forever, but it does mean you need to table them for now. Focusing on too many goals at once reduces your chances of reaching any of them, so it’s best to take a more focused approach.
When deciding which goal to choose, it’s wise to use the SMART goal system. Make sure your goals are:
So instead of setting a goal that says, “We want to reduce our screentime,” set a goal that says, “We will reduce our screen usage to one hour per day per person by March 1st.” This gives each family member a clear idea of exactly what you’re working towards.
4. Break Down Your Goals
Now that your goals are set, you need to move into the phase of working towards them in order to achieve them. This is where the real work comes in and it’s where most people fail. Setting goals is easy, but putting the effort in is hard, especially when you’re not sure how to get there.
That’s why it’s so important to break your goals down into manageable pieces. A good way to do this is by figuring out the tasks that need to be accomplished in order to meet the goal and then assigning a due date for each of these tasks.
For instance, if your goal is to save $2000 by the end of the year to put towards a vacation in 2020, start by breaking down how much money that works out to each week (it’s about $42 a week if you start in February). Then make a plan for how to reach those weekly goals. If your family typically goes out to eat once a week and spends about $50 when you do, you could change to once every two weeks. If you have a basement full of things you don’t use, you could plan a yard sale or post items for sale online.
By breaking down your goals and figuring out how to achieve the smaller milestones, you not only make it seem far less overwhelming, you also keep yourself motivated by continually reaching those smaller goals.
5. Weekly Check-ins
Since these goals are something you’re working towards as a family, it’s important to stay accountable to each other. By setting a time each week to check in with each other, you’ll have an opportunity to see how everyone is doing, go over the things that are working well and the things that need to be tweaked, and remind yourselves of the next milestone or deadline.
Family goals can not only help your family feel a sense of accomplishment, they also foster teamwork and a closer connection. Make a plan to get together and get started on setting and achieving some family goals. By the end of the year, you’ll be surprised by how much you’ve been able to accomplish.