How do you decide what the priority is for your family? What are the most important things for your time, effort, focus, and money to go to? If you are looking for a way to will streamline your decision-making and release yourself from the stress of too many priorities, giving you more time to spend as a cohesive and healthy unit, then today’s post is for you!
We will unpack the steps needed to design your personal Family Mission Statement.
So why is it an important practice to develop a Family Mission statement? For any family, there are pressing priorities that may pull efforts and family members in opposite directions, causing a drain on time, money, or energy. Or maybe you have found that there are too many activities or options facing your family. So how do you decide what to do and where your resources should go?
By determining the purpose and mission of your family, you then have a lens through which your decisions can be viewed, saving you time and effort, individually and collectively.
For instance, if a family realized that creative expression was central to their collective identity, then they would make it a priority to have space, supplies, and time to create. This might mean that they would decide to spend money on paint and canvases instead of sports equipment or camping equipment because that focus on art is going to be more life-giving and fulfilling for the family as a whole.
The place where I was exposed to this way of thinking was in Tsh Oxenrider’s book Organized Simplicity. I thought it was going to be a book about how to get rid of clutter, and it is, but more importantly, it helped me to see that we needed to understand what was important to our whole family, not just one or two members and that our decisions and efforts should flow out of that.
I’d love to hear from you below before you go through the steps with me – have you developed a Family Mission Statement, and if not, what do you think is the purpose of your family? Go ahead and tell me in the comments below.
So let’s break down those steps!
Step 1 – Answer the questions
This will take a while – have drinks and a snack and at least two uninterrupted hours set aside to answer 20 foundational questions. If you are part of a couple, you can either work on the questions together or individually, but for this to work, you will both need to meet and hone down on what is true for your family.
Where can you find the questions? In the Organized Simplicity Book or I will post a link at the bottom of this post where Tsh shared them on her site, The Art of Simple.
Step 2 – Find the theme(s)
In that same dedicated time or in a new meeting, look at the answers and find the themes that occur. Where are there central ideas or characteristics that you see popping up among multiple questions?
Group those in a new list (or however you like to organize – I’m not your mom).
Step 3 – Where is there tension?
If you are doing this with a spouse or partner, where are there differences? If you are working through this by yourself, where do you see tension between different answers? This will help to identify why mission creep might occur or point out where goals are coming into conflict, which may address where vision fatigue is happening in your home.
Step 4 – Take a long-term view
If you see that some of your goals and principles are focused on the short-term or the current or near-future season, take a moment to distill the longer-lasting theme, characteristic, or principle and see how that could be re-stated as focus that could span over a longer period of time.
Step 5 – Draft your Statement
This is where you take the themes and family purpose that you have identified and place it into a statement form. If you are looking for a template, Tsh Oxenrider suggests the following skeleton but encourages each family to find what works for communicating their own mission and not feel like this must fit into a formula.
We, the [family name], believe that our purpose as a family is to [general mission statement]. We will accomplish this by:
- valuing [principal] and [principal] as our main guiding principles
- making our home a place of [adjective], [adjective], and [adjective]
- prioritizing [value or action] above lesser values
- interacting with each other in a spirit of [adjective]
Step 6 – Mark the Moment
The next step is to choose how to display, record, or communicate your statement. It can simply be storing it electronically and referring back to it, or you could create an art piece or a sign that could be displayed in the home. Some families revisit the statement as members hit milestones or the season of the family changes based on age, stage, or circumstance. Give yourself the freedom to grow the statement as you and your family grow as well.
But whatever way you decide to record or communicate it, get the statement front and center when you are making decisions and become amazed at how this helps you to release the things that you don’t need and enjoy the things that are important to your family.
Our own experience
On August 29, 2013, I was eating lunch by myself in a restaurant (which I hardly ever do – it was a treat!), and I was reading the Organized Simplicity book because we wanted to declutter and simplify our home. When I saw the list of questions and realized how important this step was, I took pictures of the questions and immediately emailed my husband, asking him for a meeting that night to work through the process. He agreed, and we spent the evening talking through all of it.
Our girls had moved in a little over two years prior, and we had been living in some difficult circumstances as we became aware of the complex developmental trauma that our girls had experienced. We needed an anchor so we could make decisions and not default to reactive or impulsive choices.
As I was writing this article, I asked my husband to review our statement and see if it still resonated six years later, and he agreed with me that it does, so I’m sharing it with you.
We, the Clark family, believe that our purpose as a family is to build a strong, faith-based home that is inviting, nurturing, and healing. We will accomplish this by:
- Valuing both actively loving one-another and respecting others and ourselves as our main guiding principles,
- making our home a place of laughter, warmth, and authenticity,
- prioritizing stewardship, community, and creativity above lesser values,
- interacting with each other in a spirit of grace.
Remember, you can check out the link below to the original post that has those questions below, and if this has inspired you, I’d love it if you would post the word “Yes!” below, along with your planned date to sit down and start to work through these steps.
When you are finished with the process and have recorded your statement, feel free to snap a shot and tag me at @keepingyourheart on Instagram!