If you have read much of my writing, you know a common theme is to stop trying to be who you aren't. It is my strongly held opinion that many frustrations in raising children could be avoided if we stopped holding ourselves to impossible standards.
You know by now what I am against, but you know less of what I am for. This is intentional, for the most part. Every family differs in their values/faith/dreams, and the last thing I would ever want to do is to burden you with one more thing.
Which is why writing (or Facebook posts or Instagram photos) only tells a fraction of the story.
In the past few years, I have spent considerable time intentionally creating the life I want for my family. I have cut many things out and added some things back. My no is strong, but my yes is always without regret.
I am not sure specifically where I got this idea to mindfully develop my family's goals and live accordingly, as it's a common theme today, but my manager at work shared with my team and me that this is one of the most important decisions a company (or family) makes.
Knowing who you are and why you do what you do is crucial for success.
While I happened upon this way of living haphazardly, there is actually a formula for success that I highly recommend:
Vision + Mission + Goals + Measures = Behaviors (VMGM = B)
I don't know about you, but I love a good formula. And this one works. I will share specifically how it works for families, but it also applies to your job, creative ventures, and more.
1. Create a vision for your family. In my leadership journey, I learned an easy way to remember this is by thinking of a telescope. This is what feels very far off...your dreams, aspirations, hopes for the future, etc. These are personal but are somewhat broad and can almost feel unattainable if no action steps are taken.
An example from my family: "I want my kids to come home for Christmas," is a mantra that I have etched in my mind. It's a cheeky way of saying I want a relationship with my children that is so strong that even when they're adults, they can't wait to come visit home. Christmas is not literal, in this situation, but it's an easy way for me to remember my long-term vision for my family when the days get long and gritty.
2. Determine a mission. Think of this as binoculars, if you're a visual person. This is the strategy for what you're going to do and how you're going to do it. It makes the vision applicable to everyday life.
To continue my example: If I want my kids to visit home when they're grown, I have to create a home they love now. My strategy for this is to do my best to make my home feel safe, welcoming, and fun. It goes without saying that I do not do this well all of the time, but having a mission allows me to get back on track easily when I've derailed.
My hope is that my children feel safe in my home. I listen to their sweet conversations, I value their opinions, and I remain calm when they tell me hard things. It may feel insignificant and silly when they're little, but it creates a healthy foundation for when it's very important.
While I do not believe in a home where the world revolves around the children, I do believe in creating a home where kids can live loudly. Nothing is sacred in my home. My daughter can play in my make-up. My boys can wrestle in the living room. (Please remember, this is MY mission. If you are not the same, that is healthy and good.)
I do not feel the need to constantly entertain my children, but I do want a home that is fun to live in. We laugh at mistakes and try not to take life too seriously.
3. Set goals. Like eyeglasses, goals give clarity to your vision and mission. Goals should be realistic, time bound, and measurable. They bring the potentially overwhelming feeling of the vision into manageable ways to carry it out.
For me: Maintaining a strong relationship with my children can feel overwhelming when my pre-teen son tests every ounce of patience I have. Instead of beating myself up for this season of life where it feels like I fail more often than I succeed in dealing with his testiness, I set realistic goals. When he asks to ride with me somewhere I would rather go alone, I say yes when possible. I take those moments to enjoy the conversation with him. He is such an awesome kid, and it's much easier for me to see that when his sibs (as he affectionately calls them) aren't around to bother him.
I make bedtime tuck-in's a priority. Every night I am home, I lay with each of my kids individually. This is my way of assuring that, no matter how the day went, I end well with each child. I have four children, but I do not worry if they're getting enough attention...because I know I will have this touch point with each kid every day.
I cannot stress enough how these are merely examples to get you thinking. These are not hard and fast rules for every family. It is what works for me to achieve the vision I have for my family, but it is not necessarily what will work for you.
4. Measure the above often. You know by now that raising kids is much easier said than done. You will derail from the vision and mission you have for your family. That is expected. The benefit of writing it all out is that you can recalibrate quickly when you realize you're off course. Take the time every couple of months to evaluate what is working and what is not...and make changes accordingly.
5. Your Vision, Mission, Goals, and Measures will always determine your Behaviors. By being purposeful in creating the family you want, your daily life will show it. You will live your life on purpose and with intention.
I would encourage you to carve out time to consider your VMGM = B, both personally and professionally. Rather than let life happen at you, you can take control and live in a way that aligns with what you value most.
You only get once chance at life. Make it count. Make it yours.