Family Activities: Setting Goals and Making Plans

Welcome to 2022!

As a new year gets underway, your family may want to make some plans together. Will you have a milestone birthday, wedding, or other big event this year? Would you like to make a big purchase or plan a vacation? Or maybe you have a volunteer project in mind, or a resolution you’d like your whole family to take on. It’s important to make a plan first, so you know where you’re going and have the best chance to succeed.

The fun part (for many people – not relentless planners like me) is the dreaming beforehand. “What would you do if you won the lottery?” can be a fun family discussion topic. You may see your various priorities reflect your values and personalities. Another one to put out there is “What would you like to do on our next family vacation?” or “If we took a road trip together before school starts, where would you want to go?” Some ideas may not be realistic, but they can lead to a discussion about the most important things to include or avoid. You might be surprised by what your kids already know or want to try.

Some ideas (take what works for you, or keep talking it over):

  • Everyone chooses 20 items in good condition to donate or sell at a garage sale.
  • The family takes a walk together after dinner, or every Saturday.
  • Kids take turns planning a family dinner and evening entertainment once a week.
  • Together we save money to visit Grandma (or have her visit us) for her birthday.
  • We participate in a fundraiser for a charitable cause that we support.
  • This is the year the kids’ playroom becomes a study space and teen hangout.

What is important to you as a family? What makes you happy? What would you like to change?

When you sit down together to make your plans, here are some key questions and areas to cover:

  • The basics: WHEN, WHERE, and WHO. For an event, this is easy. For something like a resolution, work out what changes you want to make and why. How will you know you’ve succeeded? And how will you feel if you don’t reach that point? Is it still worth trying?
  • Is everyone available? Does anyone need convincing? Lay out your best supporting argument. Use those dreams!
  • How much will it cost? Where is that money coming from and what might it mean for the rest of the year? Is everyone on board with the plan – no extra toys? Eating leftovers instead of takeout?
  • What needs to happen first? It can be helpful to “plan backward”, starting from the key date and then noting what steps need to be complete before you get there. If you want people to receive their invitations two weeks before, when do you need to mail them? How long will you need to address the envelopes? Are there any addresses you don’t have yet? Will you make your own invitations or order them – how long will that process take? Add in some extra time in case anything goes wrong.
  • Who’s in charge of which steps? Planners, as tempting as it may be to take it all on yourself, resist! Delegate! Give everyone a job (or more than one, for older folks). This is a team effort.
  • Set a date to discuss again – next month? What will everyone have done by the next time? What information will you need to make the next big decision? There’s no guarantee that tasks will get done on time, but having a due date that everyone knows is part of getting there.

I hope your plans go well this year!