Have you ever set a goal as a family? I mean, I am sure you have common values and things you enjoy doing together, but have you ever consciously set a goal as a family?
2023 could be your year!
Shared future family goals can foster increased connection and togetherness.
Family goals help us to consciously shape our daily lives and establish our priorities. This article is full of family goals examples and takes you through the process of setting family goals. There’s also a free Family Goal Setting worksheet to guide you.
Does it ever feel like your family is moving in different directions? Perhaps you once felt “in sync” but now you all have different interests and priorities. We must respect that as children become adolescents, they need their own space to develop as individuals. Some teenagers need a considerable amount of time away from the family. However, they also need family connection. You can make sure that the time you do spend together is quality time.
PART ONE: PREPARING TO SET YOUR SPECIFIC GOALS
Family Goals: Keep it Simple
You don’t need to have a list of future family goals. In fact, this could be de-motivating; if you have lots of goals, you will lose focus and forget them. One or two simple family goals will be highly effective, especially if you set aside time to work on them regularly.
Sticking to one common goal, two at the most, will be the best way bring you together as a family. It will help your children feel connected to you.
Develop A Family Vision Statement
A family vision statement is a document of shared values and goals for a family. It can be used as blueprint for important decisions and to maintain unity among the members.
Some families have a family vision statement that they review annually to make sure that their needs are being fulfilled and that no new needs have been added.
Below are some questions to help you create a Family Vision Statement:
- What does your family want?
- And your children: What do they want?
- What do you want?
- What does your spouse want?
- How will you make sure your children know what they need from their parents?
- How will they know how to live as happy, healthy adults?
This family vision statement is much less specific than a goal, but it will help direct you towards personal and meaningful family goals.
Examples of Family Vision Statements
We want a family that has fun together and can disagree but we always resolve our differences.
We want a family where everyone feels equal and everyone helps and shares equally.
“Be Kind” is our family motto. We will use it to guide us within the family and when we interact with others.
Setting Family Goals: What’s Important To You?
Take a look at the sub-headings below, and think about what resonates with you. Will this resonate with the rest of your family? It’s important that all members of the family have a shared vision. Goals should not just be achievable, but exciting and motivating for the entire family. That’s pretty tricky to achieve!
Common Family Values
You can share values as a whole family, and these may differ slightly from each individual family member’s values. But, to feel at one with your family, you need to discover what you all value at your core. A simple way to do this is to use my values cards, talking through them, discarding those which are not a match, until you end up with a core set of three or four.
You can get a free set of my values cards electronically here. You may also be interested in this article about the importance of values for children’s mental health.
Interests are very different to values. My family’s shared values include the outdoors and musical theatre! As a family, what do you do together on a regular basis that makes you all happy? Identifying common interests is a great way to hone in on a fun and exciting family goal.
Perhaps your family can all agree that they share intelligence and persistence? Or that everybody has a great sense of humour that gets you through tough situations.
Short Term Goals or Long Term Goals?
You may decide to set one short term and one long term goal. Your short-term goal will help you keep focused as a family, whilst long-term goals help us aim for something really big or satisfying! Do not set more than one of each or you will quickly become overwhelmed.
It’s much more motivating to put a positive spin on your goals. For example: eat more freshly prepared foods, rather than eat less processed foods.
Even if your goals appear to be less tangible – for example, building closer relationships, it’s vital to be able to measure your goal. A “woolly” goal will set you up for failure.
Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound).
Family goals are not about one person achieving personal goals. They are about family members succeeding together. It is important for families to come up with a plan together and set timeline expectations. This makes it easier for everyone in the family to be on the same page and know what needs to be done in order to reach their goal.
What is the goal? How are you going to make it happen? What will it look like if you achieve it?
PART TWO: FAMILY GOALS EXAMPLES
Below, I recommend four types of goals and I take you through some fictional examples of family goals.
Parenting an older child or teen can be challenging and it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks and forget your goal: to raise a happy, healthy, and responsible adult.
Setting relationship goals can be motivating for you and your child when you have clear goals for what you want your relationship together to look like in the future.
An important concept to remember here is that though the goal will be shared, each member’s roles and responsibilities may be different. For instance, young children would not be expected to contribute in the same way as older children or parents.
Family Goals Examples:
The Simpson Family: Better Communication
The Simpson family had noticed that recently everyone was become defensive and sensitive to criticism. When someone got offended by another family member’s comment, it could easily blow up into a full-on row and could even get violent sometimes. It felt like everyone was treading on eggshells. Mum Jenna and Dad Eric knew this needed to change. After a discussion with their three teens, they decided to instigate family dinners every Friday night and Sunday night. The goal during these meals was for everyone to listen fully to the person speaking, without interrupting or criticizing. Jenna and Eric thought that if they could communicate more positively at the dinner table for these two hours a week, this would gradually extend to their ordinary interactions as well. This was the first step to restoring the happy family life they had once had.
If your children are not communicating as well as you would like, you may find this article about sibling rivalry helpful to read.
The Singh Family: A Better Balance Between Time Together and Time Separately
The Singh Family (mum Ruha, dad Santokh and teenage girls Zaaminah and Yuvrani) found they were spending most of their time alone. In the evenings, Zaaminah and Yuvrani would spend time in their rooms whilst Ruha worked in the study and Santokh spent time in the living room. Often they felt they barely saw one another from day to day. Ruha and Santokh recognised that as teenagers, the girls needed some time alone. However, they felt they needed more quality time together as a family. They decided they would aim to watch TV together every evening between 9 and 10pm, and that on Sundays they would go out together as a family. This allowed plenty of separate time, but carved out specific times to strengthen family relationships and be together.
Not only can practical goals bring families together towards a shared vision, but they can also teach children about financial responsibilities and how to manifest something you all want into reality.
The Smith Family: Save Up For Our Dream Family Holiday
The Smiths (dad Roger, mum Elaine, 8 year-old Barney and 10 year-old Asha) shared a love of all things Disney. They had always wanted to go to Disney World. They wanted to go before the children became teenagers, but money was tight. After a family discussion, they decided they would all begin to save, with a view to going to Disney the following summer.
They each had different responsibilities. Roger created a separate savings account entitled “Disney 2024”. Elaine looked at all the family’s subscriptions and managed to find 4 they no longer needed, saving so much money she was shocked. This money instead went into the savings account. Barney and Asha agreed they would each do some household chores, and would be “paid” a little bit of money which would go into the savings account. They also helped their dad clear out all their old games and toys from the loft, and sell it at a car boot sale. They agreed to do this a few more times to contribute to the Disney fund. Working together like this bonded them as a family and made the holiday feel even more exciting and deserved.
As you can see, even young kids can get involved with family financial goals, in an age-appropriate way.
The Honeyman Family: Make Our Dream Garden Into Reality
The Honeyman family had moved into a new-build house. The garden was a “blank canvas”. The children (6 year-old Angel and 8 year-old Susannah) wanted to have a “secret garden” at the end, with lots of trees and shrubs to hide amongst. Parents Helena and James wanted an entertaining area for barbecues and get-togethers. They decided to involve the children in the design of the new garden. They each contributed to the drawing of the design. To make it into reality, every Saturday the family planned to spend half a day on the garden, digging and prepping, building decking and visiting the garden centre for new plants. Angel and Susannah got to see how a dream could become reality step by step, and they learned new skills at every step. Every member of the family had a good time making their dream happen.
Desmond Family: Reuse and Repair As Much as Possible This Year
Bianca and Elliot Desmond wanted to teach their 6 year-old son Jackson about sustainability. Together they decided they would try to buy second hand clothes and repair any toys or electrical items which broke, rather than throwing them away. Elliot took Jackson to a repair café so they could both learn how to repair their broken radio. Bianca taught Jackson how to sew. Jackson got a book about eco-friendly living for Christmas containing lots of ideas, and they worked on a different idea each weekend. They all learned new life skills on their way to their longer-term goal.
The Kitson Family: Improve Our Fitness Levels (take part in a challenge)
The Kitsons – Chris, Jan, Billy and Izzy – had been very active when the children were young. As they got older, the children took part in less sport. Now teenagers, the children still enjoyed the outdoors but didn’t take part in any regular activities. Their parents had also become much more sedentary than they wanted. They agreed that they would all like to be fitter and spend more time outdoors. To keep them motivated, they decided to sign up for a walking challenge. They saw it as a great opportunity for increased family time as well as increased fitness. They each committed to walk the equivalent of John O’Groats to Lands End over the next twelve months. To achieve this, they agreed they would plan a family hike every Sunday.
You can find out more about organised fitness challenges for 2023 here.
The Adewole Family: Eat More Freshly Prepared Foods
Mum Vanessa was very knowledgeable about healthy eating but with busy schedules, she recognised that she and her daughter Aaliyah had fallen into bad habits with processed foods and take-aways. She bought a cook-book on “express” healthy meals. The family agreed they would take turns at cooking one of the meals from the book every Monday night.
Thompson Family: Balance “Non-Technology” Time with Time on Devices
The Thompsons had tried to set time boundaries around use of technology, but as the children – Noah, Abbie and Josh – got older, it was harder and harder to get them to switch off. This meant fewer meals together, it meant parents Paul and Natasha ended up doing all the housework, and it meant the kids got less sleep than they needed.
The family all agreed they needed a fresh start. They decided they would make a written agreement which would be pinned to the wall, and signed by everyone. The agreement stated that after school, everyone would come off their devices for dinner at 6.30pm, and that nobody (including Paul and Natasha) would use electronic devices after 9pm. All devices would be brought into the kitchen and left to charge. Everyone agreed this would bring a better balance to family life.
Outward Facing Goals
Giving back to others is good for our mental health because it helps us feel like we’re making a difference in the world. Giving back to others will help us feel less lonely and more connected to the people around us. For this reason, outward-facing family life goals can be incredibly rewarding.
Here are two examples.
The Jenson Family: Spend More Time With Good Friends and Extended Family
Since the pandemic, the Jensons realised there were a growing number of family members outside their immediate family, as well as friends, who they had not seen for months or even years. Some of these were elderly people whose health was declining. Others were families who were growing and changing fast. They didn’t want to waste any more time.
The Jensons decided that a lovely goal for the next twelve months would be to plan visits to the people they missed the most. They took out their family calendar and ring-fenced one weekend every month. Each month they planned to take a road trip and visit someone different.
The Weston Family: Raise Money for the Local Hospice
When Nana Jean died from leukemia, the Westons – Jack, Kayleigh, Connor and Fred, decided to raise money for the local hospice which had cared for her towards the end of her life. They planned to see if they could raise £2000 in twelve months. Connor and Fred took part in sponsored events and set up cake sales. The family arranged a quiz night and a race night. This community service project gave them a common cause to focus on in their grief, and brought them together as a family unit.
Family Goal Setting: Bring it All Together
I hope this article and the family goals examples above have inspired you to set your own goals as a family.
Use my free printable pdf on Family Goal Setting alongside this article to brainstorm and select your most important goals. Take time to discuss everyone’s views and write them down before you select the final goal together.
Dr Lucy Russell is a UK clinical psychologist who works with children and families. Her work involves both therapeutic support and autism assessments. She is the Clinical Director of Everlief Child Psychology, and also worked in the National Health Service for many years. In 2019 Lucy launched They Are The Future, a support website for parents of school-aged children.
Through TATF Lucy is passionate about giving practical, manageable strategies to parents and children who may otherwise struggle to find the support they need.
Lucy is a mum to two teenage children. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children, rescue dog and three rescue cats. She enjoys caravanning and outdoor living, singing and musical theatre.
Join They Are The Future’s free Facebook group for regular tips and great ideas to support teens and pre-teens with their mental health! Join the group: Parent Tips for Positive Child Mental Health UK.