Why (and How) You Should Make a Family Mission Statement This Year
People expect each other to live according to some unspoken standard. It’s human nature. That’s particularly true of spouses, who tend to set a high standard for each other (sometimes too high). But have you ever explicitly defined that standard with your partner? Have you ever sat down and talked about what kind of home you collectively want to create for your children? Because really, how can you expect to live a way of life or for a specific purpose unless you and your partner intentionally decide on it it together? That’s where your family mission statement comes in.
In 1989, Stephen Covey, a Harvard-trained business consultant, wrote a book called, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. Covey often asked his clients to write one-sentence mission statements about their purpose, but realized that mission statements were just as (if not more) important for families, which operate on systems of purpose, values and goals. In Covey’s own words, “The goal is to create a clear, compelling vision of what you and your family are all about.”
In that way, your family mission statement is a definition of what you really want to do and be. It’s the mission and purpose that can govern your family life every single day, to help keep you, your partner and kids on track to achieve whatever it is you set out to.
According to Lasting, the leading couples counseling app, it’s critical to start with some healthy self-reflection. What really matters to you? What’s your family’s purpose? Here are five questions to get the ball rolling:
- What words best define your relationship?
- What kind of home do you want to invite people into?
- What do you want to be remembered by?
- What story(es) do you want to tell about your family later on in life?
- Collectively, when are you at your best/worst?
At their core, these questions are designed to get you talking about the important things in life.
After you’ve had some time for solid reflection, here’s a template to help you design your mission statement:
1. What environment do you want to cultivate?
"The mission of our family is to create a place of A, B, C…”
2. How will that environment benefit your family members?
“…so that the members of our family can become D, E, F…”
3. How will your family members then benefit the world?
“…in order to G, H, I in the world.”
For example, here’s what Covey’s own family outlined in their mission statement: “The mission of our family is to create a nurturing place of faith, order, truth, love, happiness and relaxation, and to provide opportunity for each individual to become responsibly independent and effectively interdependent, in order to serve worthy purposes in society.”
There’s no better way to hold yourself accountable to living out your family’s mission than to share it with others. In fact, research shows you’re twice as likely to make progress on your stated goals when you share them with others. And when you hold yourself accountable to your goals, you’re communicating to others that the goal is important to you and your family. It’s a way to invite them into your inner world.
“Sharing your family mission statement can truly foster a closer friendship between yourself, your family and others coming into your home,” says Steve Dziedzic, founder of Lasting. “When you share your mission with others, you’re sharing the things that really matter to you. You’re sharing who you want to become and your deepest longings for your family life. That’s a vulnerable moment that’ll build your shared connection and open up a great conversation.”
Are you ready to be even more intentional about your family rhythms, values and goals? Download Lasting and check out the Family Culture series for an assessment, surprising data and research-backed tips for moving forward.
Published December 2018