Mission Possible – Using a Family Mission Statement to Connect your Family

Does your family have a mission?

Cue the Mission: Impossible theme song. I am an action flick gal. I have seen every James Bond movie at least three times, I was first in line to see Transformers, and I never miss a superhero adventure.

So, when the topic of missions comes up, it is no surprise that the first thing that pops in my mind is the theme song from Mission: Impossible. The mission I have in mind isn’t an impossible one, but like the M:I character, Ethan Hunt, it does require a focus and teamwork to achieve it.

Whether it’s a top-secret mission, one from God or one from within, a mission declares what you would like your life to look. It directs your life and asserts your purpose. It answers questions, such as: How do we choose to live our life? What values support us? What are our priorities?

So, your, well, mission – should you choose to accept it – is to identify and craft your own family mission statement. Whether you are a family of two or twenty, a mission statement provides everyone a say in how the family goes and grows in life as an individuals and as a team.

7 Steps to Creating Your Family Mission

#1: Establish your personal mission. Consider the current status of your life, values, priorities, goals, education, professional pursuits, leisure activities and roles you enjoy on a regular basis. Get specific! (If you haven’t done a Life Perspective Plan, you get one at juliesmith.com.) Encourage your spouse, life partner, and/or older children to determine their personal mission as well.

#2: Gather all the family members for a family meeting. Be sure to include anyone that lives in the same house: younger children, children who live/visit on a part-time basis and even grandparents who may live in the home. Explain that you will all be contributing to the creation of a mission statement. Let your family know that a mission is NOT a list of rules, requirements or punishments; rather, it is a roadmap for the family’s journey through life.

#3: Characterize your family by asking each family member list adjectives that describe your family. For example, our family describes itself as loving, quirky, authentic, funny, kind, creative and smart. (Be sure everyone contributes.) As each word is shared, list it on a white board for all to see. Additionally, ask family members to listen without judgment as each person’s shares his or her dreams, goals, priorities, and if completed, personal mission. These contributions start to lay the foundation of what your family mission will encompass.

#4: Brainstorm ideas to include in your family mission statement. Ask each person to contribute ideas. (Remember to do this without censorship as this is a brainstorming session.) Prompt ideas with questions such as: “What goals do we have as a family?” “If there was a definition of us in the dictionary, what would it say?” “If a stranger met us, what would they think of our interactions together?” “What inside jokes does our family share?” “What traits do we admire?” “What do we find unacceptable?” “If we were honored at an award show, what award would we win?”

#5: Craft your mission by forming the ideas in sentences. Once you have composed your sentences into a statement, edit it until everyone is agreement with both the words and the sentiment. An example may be, “The Smiths live authentically and judgment-free. We strive for continued growth, knowledge and new experiences. We are not defined by one trait or thought; rather, we are motivated by our qualities: quirky, creative, intellect, kind, honest and fun. Collectively and individually, we create the life we want.”

#6: Refine your mission into a short motto. A motto is one sentence that summarizes your family’s mission. Depending on your family, you may choose to write it in code, rhyme or verse. Some families create a catchy, humorous affirmation as their motto. The key is to make it easy to remember and touch on at lest a few of the points in your mission. My family’s motto is “The Smiths are true to their best selves.” It also could be funny or in code, as long as your family knows what it means and represents.

#7: Print out your motto and family mission statement, and ask everyone sign and date it. Post both mission and motto in a variety of prominent places in your home and business. Start creating habits and objectives that support your mission. As decisions are made both at home and business, tie them back to your family mission to ensure alignment in both areas for ultimate success.

Looking for more tips on teaching kids about character? Connect with Julie at www.juliesmith.com!

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About Julie Watson Smith
Julie Smith, adolescent and family counselor and parent educator, specializes in improving the parent-tween/teen relationships. She helps parents and educators understand tweens-to-teens, so they, in turn, can help these kids understand themselves. Every day, Julie shares tween-to-teen perspectives, insights and answers questions from parents in in the Flipside of Parenting community. For more information or to Meet your Tween, visit www.juliesmith.com.

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