Setting Family Goals: How To Write A 5 Year Plan

Setting Family Goals: How To Write A 5 Year Plan

You’ve just had a baby, you’re in the midst of diapers, feeds and feeling like a zombie. The last thing on your mind is imagining how you want life to look in five years. If you were like me, it was hard enough to see past the next day let alone what life would look like years from now. But this baby that you now have responsibility for is the exact reason why you need to think ahead. Not only because of the increased financial responsibility, but because at the center of every family are the parents, and it is important for us as parents to consider the life we want for ourselves, because this will help with our happiness, which in turn will help with your childs happiness. Though, it is probably best to wait out the first 3-6 months, you have enough on your plate!

Any information included in this post is of a general nature and for informational purposes only. If you require support specific to your needs please seek support from your relevant health professional.

 

Goal Setting Isn’t Just For Careers

When we hear about goal setting, we often hear about it in terms of our jobs and finances. We might be told to think about our career pathways from back in high school, and then once in work we are told to consider where we want to be in that company, or in our professions. We might be told to think about our finances, initially to consider the big purchases in life (buying a car or house, or planning a wedding), and then to pay off any large debts (i.e. a mortgage) as fast as possible. And although goal setting is important for both our careers and finances, we also need to consider our personal goals for ourselves, and the goals for our families.

Think about it, what is the purpose of having a solid career and strong finances, if you don’t know what the purpose of those goals are? What is the point of becoming a manager? What is the point of paying off debt, or accumulating savings? What is the point of owning your own business? If you haven’t got a clear purpose behind your career or financial goals, then these goals don’t really have much meaning behind them.

Now, you might be like me and already have purpose behind these goals. It’s probably for your family, or to have more flexibility with your time. But how well thought out are these goals? Are they really that specific? And what can we do about these goals now, so we can feel like we are achieving in all areas of life.

Imagine Your Life In 5 Years

If you haven’t done goal setting before, or have only thought about it briefly, then a good place to start is to think about what you want life to look like in five or ten years. I personally like to start with five years, but there is no right or wrong place to start, it all depends on how far ahead you are able to visualise. For those who struggle to visualise, it may be best to start with a shorter time frame, like two or three years.

Once you have your time frame, imagine what you want life to look like in your future. Start by imagining what your day would look like. Are you doing the same daily routine you are now, or will it look different? Who are you spending time with? Are you in the same job? Company? Do you see more kids in your future? Will you be eating differently? Try to be specific with what your day will look like. Imagining your average day in your future gives you an idea of what life could look like day in, day out, and may point to things that you can start sooner rather than later. Even small, seemingly pointless changes, can help motivate us to maintain momentum as we progress towards our larger goals.

Once you have imagined your future average day, make sure to write it down. From here, I like to then imagine life in five years, in the following areas:

  • Personal life (health, friendships, interests)
  • Family life (family relationship, living circumstances)
  • Career life (finances, profession, company)

Once again, try to be as specific as possible. Vague goals end up being dropped because we don’t know if we are achieving them or not, so make sure you clarify the goal. Also, there are plenty of areas of life you could look into, and each of these three areas have plenty of categories within them, however I prefer to focus on these three areas to keep things simple. Once you have imagined life in these domains, be sure to write it down. What you have written down will become your long term goals, or your ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. These help to guide your short term goals, as everything we do should have these long term goals in mind.

So after you have finished visualising your life in five years, you should have the following written down:

  • Your average day and what it looks like
  • What your personal aspirations look like
  • What your family life and circumstances look like
  • What your job and financial situation looks like

Family Goals: Involving Your Partner

By completing the above activity, one thing should become clear: all your goals are intertwined with one another. Another thing may also be apparent: your goals are likely to involve, or at least impact, your family and partner. And with this in mind, it also means that your goals are likely to intertwine with any goals your partner has. So before you start planning how you are going to achieve your goals, talk to your significant other about their goals over the next five years, and find out what goals fit in with one another, and which goals need to be adjusted to fit into a shared vision of the future.

For those who do complete goal setting and have a vision for their future, this is a step that can often be missed. Goal setting is usually discussed in terms of being an individual activity, completed for yourself, but as we enter a relationship and start a family, goal setting becomes a team activity. Not only will these keep you both on the same page, but this will help you understand each other better, help you feel like you are ‘in this together’, and provide support to keep going for your goals during times when it may be difficult.

So take some time out with your partner, and let them know that you’ve been thinking about the future and start by asking them the same questions as above. From there, if you have similar goals, then pop a bottle and go back to feeding baby, but otherwise start to work towards a shared vision. This may be a difficult conversation if your future visions look completely different to one another, but approach the conversation with empathy and understanding, and ultimately focus on working as a team and finding a solution, rather than getting bogged down in the barriers’ and frustrations.

What Can You Start Now

Now you have your goals and they’ve been adjusted to involve your partner and their goals too, break down each goal into smaller goals that you can achieve each year that will help progress you to your long term goals. Think of them like levels in a game, you need to achieve level one first in your journey to level five. I would also encourage involving your partner in setting these targets, not only for all the benefits stated earlier on, but having a second opinion helps to clarify if a goal is realistic or not.

Once your have your targets set, then focus on the here and now, and what you can do to achieve your goals. My previous article on feeling success as a parent gives some examples of setting daily goals to help feel like you are doing a good job as a parent, and the same principles apply if we want to feel like we are successfully working towards a future goals.

Maybe you have a goal to be working less in the future, to spend more time with your partner and family. What can we do now that helps us work towards that goal? Maybe that looks like being more present and ‘in the moment’ when we are home? Maybe that looks like working towards a promotion at work to increase your take home pay? Maybe that looks like organising a date night to reconnect with your partner? While each of these tasks might not seem like they are giving you more time at home, they help you to live towards your value of being with your family. This also ensures that you stay focused on achieving this goal and not get lost or caught up in the barriers’ life throws at us.

As important as having a long term vision is, you still have to live in your current reality, and if we don’t ground ourselves and be present in our daily experience, then we have to ask ourselves again what is the point of having goals? So be sure to set yourself some ways that you can ‘live your goals’ in the present moment, while in the background you are working towards achieving your targets.

Lead Life In The Direction You Want

Sure, we can’t control life, and life will sometimes take us in different directions, but thinking about what you want for your future and planning what you can do now to achieve that future is important. As the saying goes, every journey begins with a single step, and every small thing you do today will influence whether you achieve your goals in the future. Even take a moment to think about your life as it is today, and ask yourself if this is where you saw yourself being five years ago. Reflect on how much you have accomplished, how much you have gained, but also how much you have missed out on because of inaction.

And it’s alright for goals to change, we want to be flexible with our goals so they adapt to what life throws our way. So as important as it is to have goals and a direction, it’s equally important to be able to adapt to change and, better yet, embrace change as it occurs.

Though for now (for those with a newborn or very young baby) feel free to just focus on getting through the day!

Any information included in this post is of a general nature and for informational purposes only. If you require support specific to your needs please seek support from your relevant health professional.

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