A shocking 70%-80% of Americans consider their families dysfunctional.
Why does such a large majority of the population struggle to get along with those closest to them? Disagreement sources can vary from miscommunication to financial loss or even the death of a loved one.
No matter the cause of separation, it’s always possible to break down barriers, set up communication processes, and take steps to thrive together as a family.
Where’s the best place to start? Creating a family mission statement.
Why Have a Mission Statement?
Hundreds of businesses utilize mission statements to set an ideal vision for the company’s future and growth. These short statements are filled with power, emotion, and imagination.
Here are just a few examples:
- “To inspire humanity — both in the air and on the ground” -JetBlue
- “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” – Starbucks
- “Spread ideas” -TED
Just as most companies use mission statements to create a strong sense of purpose and community, so can your family. Shared values and a mission bond the family differently and encourage them to commit to each other’s success and growth.
Writing Your Mission Statement
So, how do you create a mission statement? First, you have to set aside time.
Work with your family to find a time when you can all sit down together. A mission statement needs to be a reflection of every member of the family— so make sure everyone can attend and be included.
What are Your Family Values?
Working together, come up with a list of what you value as a family; the more, the merrier! You can always hone this list later.
Values will drive your mission statement.
Here are some ideas to get your gears turning:
Uncovering common values together establishes family buy-in and makes your mission statement more meaningful.
Ask the Right Questions
Did you know that asking meaningful questions creates deeper relationships and can change people’s perceptions?
People who ask more questions tend to be perceived as responsive, understanding, and caring.
Plus, questions open the door for richer and more fruitful conversations. Naturally, asking questions will play a key role in creating your mission statement.
Here are a few to get you started:
- How do we want to treat each other?
- How do we want to resolve our differences?
- How do we want to handle finances?
- What do we want to be remembered?
- What kind of relationships do we want to have with one another?
- What things are essential to us as a family?
- What are the unique talents, gifts, and abilities of family members?
- What are our responsibilities as family members?
- What are the principles and guidelines we want our family to follow?
- Who are our heroes?
- What families inspire us, and why do we admire them?
Try to get these questions to your family members before the conversation. That way, they can prepare, and you can all bring something to the meeting.
Tips For Working Together
When building a lasting family mission statement, everyone should be deeply involved. Here are some ways to help facilitate and encourage belonging.
Make sure everyone gets a say. As you’re creating your mission statement, disagreements will naturally come up. But that’s good! Recognizing and respecting differences is key in working towards a family mission statement.
Listen empathetically. Rather than trying to change or control each other, focus on common goals, values, and motivations. You might realize that you have more in common than you thought.
Write things down. Appoint someone to capture all the ideas you discuss during your family jam session. You won’t want to lose any of this progress.
Remember, you don’t have to do this in one sitting. Turning this ideation session into a chore is the last thing you want to do. Pay attention to energy levels and moods. If people are starting to drift, take a break. You can always come back later.
Living Out Your Mission
If you’ve got your mission statement down right, it should be ready to help your family make small and large day-to-day decisions.
Write It Down, and Display it For All to See
Do you have a blank space on your living room wall or a clear shelf in the kitchen?
This is the perfect place to hang your statement.
Try to put it in a visible, high-traffic place so you all can see it daily. It could be the reminder you need when approaching a challenging situation or something that brings a smile to your face.
Use Your Mission To Drive Your Decisions
Now, it’s time to start using your family mission statement. Take it for a test drive and see if it works for your family (and adjust as needed).
- If you’re struggling to decide what to spend your money on, does your family mission statement remind you to be charitable?
- Before you “forget” to take out the trash, see if your mission statement suggests something about dependability or responsibility among family members.
- When your kids are bickering, ask them to reflect on the values they chose and agreed were important to include in your family mission statement. Being compassionate and kind is likely in there somewhere.
If your mission statement encourages you to pause, think, and understand the impact behind your everyday actions, it’s doing its job.
Your Family Mission May Change, and That’s Okay!
Of course, families change over time—this mission statement is a living, breathing thing and should evolve as your family does.
Remember, the process is more important than the product.
Once your mission statement is in place, it’s the perfect opportunity to ensure your finances align with your shared vision.
Do your financial goals need a refresh? Reach out to our team. We want to see you and your family thrive financially and emotionally.
Give us a call today to get started.
The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes and should not be construed as specific investment, financial planning, tax, accounting, or legal advice. Please consult with a professional advisor before taking any action based on the contents of this article.
All investment and financial planning strategies involve risk of loss that you should be prepared to bear. We cannot guarantee any investment performance whatsoever, and past performance is not indicative of potential future returns.