On Christmas Eve we took the girls to see Frozen 2 and I’ve got to hand it to Disney…they nailed it on this one. Perhaps it’s just the season of life I’m in right now, but it seemed that the message of the movie really hit home for me. The theme song, Into the Unknown definitely is still ringing in my head, with the key idea being: to find your path you’ve got to take a step into the unknown. Spoiler alert: everything works out just the way it’s supposed to work out (not necessarily according to plan), but also not without a bumpy ride and some unexpected twists. That’s basically life right there in a nutshell, particularly for those of us who live with a strong sense of faith in a greater power than ourselves, agency, and a sense of purpose.
It’s wild when I think about it, we’re about to enter a new decade. My wife and I were remarking the other day how far we’ve come. I can still picture us now, sitting down around a little kitchen table in our one bedroom apartment back in 2005 writing a vision and planning out how we wanted our lives to go and how we wanted to impact the world. We were enthusiastic, naive, and ambitious. Then, five years later in 2010, we were preparing for the biggest change of our lives when we became parents for the first time. Like most new parents we were still enthusiastic and naive, but we did it anyway because we wanted to start our family. And there’s ambition! I remember comically remarking to Samantha after struggling through the first two months with a newborn…who would do this again? How ironic. We figured a few things out along the way, and now 4 children later, we’re prepared to emerge into a new unknown.
Samantha says that goal setting and dreaming about the future is my favorite hobby, and she’s probably right. Thanksgiving-Christmas and New Years is my favorite time of the year not only because of the joy of family and friends, but also because of the opportunity it presents to reflect and refocus for the upcoming year. I view life in seasons, and goal setting is an opportunity to be intentional about how we travel through each season. So of course as a family, we’ve been revisiting our annual vision, celebrating progress, and setting up a few new goals for the year ahead. It’s been great- and as usual, I’ve gotten my friends in on the act. We set and review goals together with a few close families that we’ve been walking through this journey called life with for the past almost 2 decades (since we were all dating our spouses back in undergrad actually). This has really added a nice layer of support and accountability. Remember that kitchen table back in the apartment 15 years ago? They were there too. Now that’s a true traveling companion.
So, as you head into a new year, here’s a few tips to try with your family- assuming you haven’t yet been inspired by a children’s movie as I have recently (ha!- though if that one doesn’t do it for you- try one of my favorite holiday classics It’s a Wonderful Life or the updated favorite- The Family Man).
Ask yourselves: what is our purpose as a family? Take some time as a family to create a vision. Have fun with it- markers, play-doh, whatever it takes to dream up who you want to become as a family unit and what you believe you can accomplish together. Then post it somewhere, print it out, do what we do make reminder bands with your motto on it- whatever it takes to keep it front and center and top of mind.
Decide how you will measure success. This is important because what we measure gets done. So, if you’d decided to become a family for instance that serves others, then you’ll want to set goals and track for example ways in which you do that. Success is relative, it really depends on what you as a family choose to value. This is your opportunity to define success, particularly for your children, before culture does, so be intentional.
Install habits to reinforce your decisions in 2020. This is where the rubber meets the road. For example, for us over the past few years we decided that we wanted to be a family that spent significant quality time together, so we created a few habits to support that aim: Friday family movie nights, Sunday church, dinner together 3 nights a week around the table. And we tracked it and celebrated it when we hit the goal. Now, spending time together is just what we do. We all have routines that either we’ve chosen consciously or subconsciously. Being intentional about the habits we choose as a family helps us to become the kind of people we’re hoping to evolve into.
Whatever you decide as you head into both a new year and a new decade, may you be enthusiastic, ambitious, and a little bit naive as you too, enter the unknown.