“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” - Anatole France
Why create a life plan?
Set some goals
Being a parent means that your life is busy, hectic even; chaotic at times. You can constantly feel like you are chasing your tail, getting by day to day, with no true sense of what your priorities are or if any priorities even exist. Every now and again, it can be a good idea to take the time out and consider family life. Consider what is working for your family (and what is not), look at where family stresses are arising, and consider how they can be alleviated. Consider whether there are future travels and adventures you'd like your family to go on. Are there any changes in your family values that you'd like to see? By considering such topics, you're proactively looking at ways to create happiness in your family and plan for future events. In its simpliest form it can be about dreaming big, and commiting to these dreams by putting in the structure that might just make these dreams come true.
How to create a life plan for your family Depending on the age of your family members, it can be a great idea to get kids involved to discuss family ambitions. You're obviously not going to get much out of your 1 year old, but a 5 year old (plus) might actually have some valid contributions. Here are a couple of suggestions a friend's 6 year old made in their recent family discussions:
- More days out as a family
- Parents to spend less time on their phones
- More crafts
- More holidays
Now, whilst some of these are small suggestions, the overarching theme that came out was more quality time as a family, so this became something that this family added to their life plan. The beauty of doing a family life plan, is that you don't just put a statement out there of 'more time as a family', you back it up with actions. So for more time as a family, you could put a number of actions against this objective to make sure that in reality it happens. One thing that this family did, was put iphones, tablets and laptops away during meal times and afterschool times and this made a big difference. They've also started to plan for holidays (and have put a financial savings plan in place for this), and have committed to one proper day out every fortnight as a family doing an activity. Small actions, but all going towards creating the sort of family environment that they have agreed is important for them.
Look to the future
Potential topics for your family life plan
If you're struggling to get started here are a couple of ideas for discussion:
Holidays/travel plans - where would we like to go as a family and when? What money do we need to save to make this happen? How much annual leave do we need to accrue to make these travel aspirations occur?
What stresses are occuring in the family? What steps can we take to alleviate this?
Spending time together as a family - do we do this enough? How can we improve upon this?
Finances - what changes do we need to make to our financial plans to ensure that our family needs are taken care of?
What goals do we have as a family? Is there anything we'd like to achieve? e.g. you could have a goal of doing a community volunteering day as family together? Or, you might like to learn tennis or a foreign language as a family?
Does any family member need more support from the family? How can we make this happen?
When discussing any of these areas (or others that are personal to your family), try to end up with specific goals, ones that you could attach dates or smaller objectives to. This way, you are creating goals with a purpose that are achieveable.
For example, if as a family you all decide you'd like to go to Disneyland in California, you'd need to look at how much it would cost, how you can save up the money to go, and then work out how long it would cost you to save up. It might be that you decide this goal cannot be achieved for 3 years, so you'd need to put milestones in place to ensure that this longer term goal can be achieved.
Review your life plan every 6 months, because life always changes, and so will your family's dreams, goals and circumstances.
Remember, "you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." C S Lewis.