A guide to reflect on the year gone by and to be intentional about what you want to focus on as a family for the next year.
✨ Happy New Year. This January, we’re hosting guided workshops to teach you how to reflect and set goals as a family - sign up here. ✨
It’s been nearly 2 years of collectively navigating lives that we never anticipated or signed up for. While 2020 was expectedly hard to plan around, 2021 felt crushing for a lot of us because we expected to be able to get back to some semblance of normal for ourselves. That turned out not to be true and here we are, at the beginning of yet another year, entirely unsure of how we’re supposed to tackle it.
It’s time we created (or reaffirmed) our own anchors. Our own small ways to tether our days and weeks to so we don’t feel like we’re constantly at the whims of a world that is hell-bent on sending curveballs our way.
It’s particularly important as parents because it’s not just our lives that we’re trying to navigate but these precious childhood years of our kids.
So this month, our focus is on helping families with reflections for the past year and setting intentions for the year ahead.
It’s less about resolutions like “workout more and drink more water”. Instead, it’s more about figuring out the values that we want to be central to our family and using them to create priorities, goals and everyday intents. Values that guide not only the major decisions but the everyday ones as well. More than that, as a family where both parents work full-time, this is a way that we’re able to be consistent across all the caregivers and teachers about what’s important to our family.
There are many schools of thought on how you might do this, but we take a simple viewpoint: being intentional about what we spend our time, energy and focus on. One of my former professors - Clayton Christensen - a giant in the business business for his thinking on disruption, had an even greater impact for his insights on how to build a life.
So this month, we’re helping parents bring more intentionality into how we all spend our precious time. From figuring out our unique family values to setting goals that we can revisit later in the year.
Choose the way that works for you - from a simple set of questions and a conversation, to joining us in a guided workshop as we dig in and design how we want to spend our time and build our families.
🤓 Reflection and Intention Setting 101
🌟 Start with values and identify priorities. Most of us have never had a chance to think about what kind of family we want to build and how. By the time you see it becoming important, around when the kids are toddlers/preschoolers, you’re in the thick of just trying to get through weeks. So take a massive step back and start with values and only then start thinking about priorities and specific goals.
📆 Use review to drive focus. Reflect on the past year to think about the best moments as a family and the most trying. Use this review to uncover what’s most important and how you can proactively design more of the positive moments.
❣️About emphasis, not exclusion. Choosing the 5-8 values that most reflect your family is more about what priorities you want to emphasize in your lives. It doesn’t mean that others aren’t important but that when it really comes down to it, these are the ones that really define what you’re about.
🤩 No right or wrong. Like with a company - there are no good or bad cultures - just strong or weak. As long as the values and goals are true to your family, you’re on the right track. Same goals with the goals you choose for the year ahead.
🧐 Evolves and changes - revisit each quarter or year. If you’ve never done this before, consider this a bitty baby step of just starting. Done right, this is just the beginning of a journey where you revisit everything from values to priorities. Family phases change so quickly that what made sense when the kids were preschoolers can quickly evolve just 3 years later. It’s why quarterly scheduled sessions will be a great ritual to build.
☀️ Bring into the everyday. Just like any organization, a culture is lived in the everyday decisions. Keeping values and goals front and center makes it easier to lean on those decisions in the little moments of discipling a child or deciding what to do on a weekend. Think about making signs/posters to hang around the house or creating little sayings (eg “we’re a sharing family”) that get shared verbally.
✨ The Options
Here are 3 ways to try it out, depending on how much time you want to devote.
Pro-tip - while some of these exercises are easy to get the kids involved, unless your kids are ~7+, perhaps think of doing 2 sessions - one with kids where you started talking about the important of reflection, intention and making simple goals and one that is just you and your partner as you dig into the harder bits and come to concrete, actionable plans.
If you have 30 minutes: 📆 3 Questions: Keep it simple with just 3 questions to answer:
- 😃 What went well? Can be achievements or how you’ve lived up to the family values or just moments you loved and want more of.
- 😒 What weren’t you so happy with? Can be disappointments, things to improve upon or something painful to reflect on and move past.
- 🤓 What do you want to focus on (to improve, change or just emphasize)?
Give everyone their own journals/notebooks to draw pictures or write down goals and pull them out each time you do it.
If you have ~an hour: 📸 The Visual Year in Review. An easy way to get everyone involved, with visual tools.
a) Create a shared 2021 photo album and everyone chooses their 2-5 photos to represent each month. You’ll end up with a really great collection that can be easily turned into a book.
b) Each person writes a story about the past year - what happened, what felt good, what wasn’t so great. Can be words, can be pictures, can be bullet points.
c) Create a family Top 10 - as a family, choose the top 10 moments of the year. Write it down, print out pictures, make a poster, act it out and record it - whatever makes most sense for your family.
d) Now look forward with a visual “vision” board - make a short list of the 3-5 things each want to work on or accomplish. Find pictures (either in newspapers and magazines or online). Create boards by cutting and pasting the pictures or using online tools like Canva.Want to vision board but don’t have it in you to cut/glue/write? 1) Save all the pictures, logos, and words you want to bring into 2022 2) Arrange them on 3) Order prints directly on the app! I got a large poster and 20 flyers to keep in my planners and elsewhere
Then, make the high level goals concrete and actionable by thinking about exactly how and when you’ll work towards it. A little tip? Set aside 2-3 hours each weekend for Family Tinkering - a set time for each person to explore their own projects and creative time.
If you want to dedicate an afternoon: 💃🏽 The full review. If there’s one thing the past 2 years have shown us, it’s that when forced to prioritize, we actually have quite a bit of choice in what we put into our lives. So to be even more intentional about where we spend our time and energy, as Clayton Christensen shares in How Will You Measure Your Life, we need to start with what our family values are, which then guide our priorities and goals.
This option is certainly more in-depth but it’s also the one that connects more deeply to the kind of parents you want to be and the kind of family you want to build together.
🧐 Part 1 - Reflections and Review of 2021 - create a map of the past year where you identify the things you want to keep or do more of, and the things you want to actively do less of.
🥰 Part 2 - Values, Intentions and Priorities - Here is the full How-To on figuring out family values that we shared earlier this year, with a starter worksheet. Take time to figure out the 5-8 family values that will make the goals for the year more obvious. Eg if “Constant Learning” is a value, then perhaps a goal is for the family to learn a skill together.
🗺 Part 3 - Set intentions for the year ahead - The last step is to set intentions for the year ahead. Either create individual visual vision boards or create a list of goals under the following headings:
👨👩👦 family quality time
💕 relationship (partner)
👯♀️ social/ relationships
🪔 spiritual/ cultural/ faith
🤲🏼 community/ giving back
Whatever option you choose, the ideal would be to do it on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Make it a family ritual by scheduling 4 sessions this year: Jan 1, Apr 1, July 1 and October 1 (or the weekends closest to them). Set aside 2-3 hours as a “Family Meeting” time and make it your own with your own agenda, traditions and fun.
🧰 The Tools
🤓 Guided Workshop - Find 90 minutes this January to focus on these reflections and intentions and actually get it done.
❓Thought starter questions:
How do we show our love and support for one another?
How do we treat others?
What do you like about our family?
Think about your favorite memories of our family time? What were we doing? What made that time special?
Can you think of other families whom you admire? Why?
How do you think others describe our family?