Have you decided what's important for your family?

A Family Mission Statement

by Deborah Taylor-Hough

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In business enterprises throughout the world, it's a common policy to write a corporate statement of purpose or a Mission Statement. To be able to see and read the expressed purpose and mission of a company allows everyone to be on the same page and to keep the same goals in mind as they work. All corporate decisions can be made in light of the company's carefully defined and written mission statement.

Likewise, each family has a general purpose or mission, whether it's stated on paper or not. The process of actually defining and writing out an official Family Mission Statement can go a long way toward focusing a family's sense of priorities and goals. Having a Mission Statement allows each member of the family to realize their family is an entity in itself, with clearly defined goals. It's not just a group of individuals going their own separate ways, but it's actually a group with an identity and purpose all its own. A Mission Statement can help balance the lives of the people involved, enabling them to clearly see a pattern for living out their commitments, relationships and work-related responsibilities.

Some families have strong religious beliefs that take center stage in their personal view of priorities and outreach to others. Others have a deep desire to touch their community and world in the areas of social welfare or volunteerism. Some families find their focus in maintaining tightly knit and supportive bonds between the individual members of the family, building a strong sense of love and fellowship within the four walls of their homes.

Whatever your family's personal priorities, seeing them written down is an excellent way to keep on track as a group. The actual process of coming up with an official Family Mission Statement can sometimes be the most enlightening and beneficial aspect of this whole idea.

Your Family Mission Statement

To start the process of coming up with a Family Mission Statement, you need to sit down and list your top priorities. If you are married or committed to someone, ask them to do this as well. Each write up your own separate list. Be as specific as you can. Take all the time you need to do this well. Be sure to take into account the general shape of your life, the activities and priorities that are part of who you are on a daily basis such as:

  • spouse
  • children
  • home life
  • career
  • background
  • education
  • moral conscience
  • faith
  • creative pursuits

After you've come up with your Personal Priority List look carefully at your results. If you've done this with a partner, come back together and discuss your results. This part of the process can be eye-opening. It's important to be gracious with each other when any differences appear. Agree ahead of time that no matter how unusual one person's priorities might seem to the other, no one will laugh, ridicule, argue or get angry. One man I spoke with in Portland, Oregon told me that when he and his wife sat down to write a Family Mission Statement, his number one priority was outreach to the community. On his wife's Personal Priority List, that particular priority didn't even show up. At that point they needed to exercise tremendous patience, graciousness and understanding with each other as they worked together to write a mission statement that would encompass both of their personal value systems.

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The Family Mission Statement will generally be a compilation of your Personal Priority List or if you did the exercise with a partner, the Personal Priority Lists you and your partner each came up with. The Family Mission Statement might not contain everything on both of your lists because some of your personal priorities will be just that -- personal, only applicable to your individual life. But even then, you'll want to make certain that your Family Mission Statement allows for the expression of the various individual priorities expressed by each of you.

If your children are very young, a Family Mission Statement can be written by the adults in the house working together without the children's direct input. If you have teens or older children still at home, it would be beneficial to include them in the process of drafting the Family Mission Statement. If nothing else, before the Family Mission Statement is finalized, allow the children or teens to read it for themselves and make constructive comments or personal suggestions.

Reviewed May 2017

Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at: thesimplemom.wordpress.com.

This article was excerpted and adapted from "A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity" by Deborah Taylor-Hough (Champion Press). Copyright Deborah Taylor-Hough. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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