Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash
By now, companies would be ready to start the year, full of optimistic and growth-maximizing plans. They would have painstakingly gone through a meticulous 2017 business review and 2018 strategic planning, investing time and money to make sure that the very best of their brains are tapped for this.
Why not apply the same rigor and investment to families? Happy, loving and close families – what we all aspire to have – don’t happen automatically. We have to deliberately dedicate time, effort and brain power to building great families. After all, family is our most important career, the center of our universe and our greatest treasure in life.
Ten years ago, we learned the concept of family visioning from a parenting seminar. Every year since then, our family dedicates time between Christmas and New Year to do it. And this is something that families like yours can still do in the first few weeks of January; it is not too late.
What happens in such a session? Below are the topics we tackled this year. It had evolved since 10 years ago, since our five children are now older and can handle more mature conversations. If you are doing it for the first time, or if your kids are still small, you can just focus on one or two topics, just to be able to kick off this yearly tradition.
A review of 2017 and what we are most grateful for. We always start with this in order to remember the events, accomplishments and blessings that each one had for the past year. It also provides a positive context to the entire discussion and creates an appreciative heart.
Family visioning. This is one of the most important topics. We answer questions along these lines: “Who are we as a family? What are our values? What is important to us? What kind of family do we want to be?” Everyone gets a chance to answer these questions, and the answers are compiled and summarized into themes. An example would be “Our family is a safe haven, where each one is loved, understood, nurtured and respected”. If you are doing this for the first time, it will take one to two hours of discussions; for succeeding years, this can just be reviewed and updated.
Family and individual resolutions. To get to this, sometimes we just ask every what they would like us to stop/ start/ continue doing – individually and as a family. This year, we talked about which elements of our family vision we can still improve on. This was a good avenue to iron out small conflicts (ex. “You never ask permission before you borrow” or “I wish you’d spend more time with me”), and agree on solutions.
Family and individual goals for the coming year. This is a constant topic every year. We collectively agree on what we aim to achieve as a family in the coming year, sometimes even zeroing in on “themes for the year”, such as “Simplify,” “Be grateful,” “Get healthier.” Each one also identifies 3-5 individual goals and reads it out for everyone to know and support.
Plans for the coming year. We end the session by anticipating the major events that will happen: milestone birthdays or anniversaries and graduations. We also agree on vacation plans and schedule, this way we are able to plan it way ahead.
Affirmations. This year, we ended by addressing each one and articulating what usually is left unsaid. We told each one what we are grateful for (“Thank you for being faithful to me”), we apologized for specific things (“Sorry for the times I shouted at you”), identifying the greatness we see in each one (“I see you as an inspiration for others to lead a healthier life”) and lastly declaring how we plan to show more our love and care (“I will show my love and care for you more by listening more”).
Pauline Gatera Fermin is a high-caliber strategy executive with 20 years experience working for P&G, The Coca-Cola Company, and Beverage Partners Asia, and 10 years consulting experience across various industries in the Philippines. She is part owner of Acumen Strategy Consultants, where she serves as Managing Director and Senior Strategist.