Why and how our family sets goals together

Kara Powell Image Kara Powell | Jan 14, 2016

Photo by kevin laminto

I’m a hard-core goal setter. Perhaps to a fault. Note that I don’t necessarily accomplish all my goals, but I do relish in setting them.

So Dave and I huddle together with our kids on January 1st every year (often during the handful of hours after the Rose Bowl Parade and before the football game) and set family goals. Some missionary friends staying at our house over the holidays wondered more about our family goal setting process so I thought I’d explain what works best for us.

We provide treats for our kids. This year it was Starbucks. Sometimes I make brownies. The youth leader in me finds that treats create a more positive environment. As our kids have become teenagers, they sometimes groan at our attempts at family intentionality. Sugar helps.

We review last year’s goals. Which is adorable. One of my favorite's was fourth-grade Jessica’s desire to “stop creasing my papers at school.” You’ll be glad to know that goal was accomplished.

We talk about why we set goals. That it helps us be more thoughtful. And mindful. And prayerful. And support each other.

We spend a few minutes thinking individually about our goals. A few of our family members are introverts. They need time.

We each write or draw our goals on a sheet of paper. Dave’s a drawer. I’m a writer but use colorful crayons. The kids vacillate. But markers and crayons let each of us personalize our own sheets of paper.

We each share our goals, explaining why we chose those goals. I think it’s especially valuable for our kids to hear Dave and me explain why we’re choosing to read the Bible, work less, or work out more.

We close in prayer.

Afterward, we make copies of the goals so I keep a copy in my prayer journal, and each person gets a copy of their own goals. To be honest, the kids often misplace their own copies of the goals. I often lose sight of them also. One of my hopes (maybe it’s a goal) this year is to take a few minutes every few months to review our goals together.

There are other flaws in the process, or areas we’d like to improve. Perhaps one year we’ll set collective goals as a family, instead of only individual goals for each family member. Maybe 12 months is too long for our kids and we should think in terms of smaller chunks.

But in the meantime, it’s a new year ritual that we dig. And it’s not too late to try this with your own family!

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Kara Powell Image
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the chief of leadership formation and executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women to Watch," Kara serves as a youth and family strategist for Orange and speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara has authored or coauthored numerous books, including Faith Beyond Youth Group, 3 Big Questions That Shape Your Future, 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Growing With, Growing Young, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family and the entire Sticky Faith series. Kara and her husband, Dave, are regularly inspired by the learning and laughter that comes from their three teenage and young adult children.

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