The Big Idea
How can we ask our family to uphold our values if we never articulate what those values are?
Questions I Answer
- Do I need a family mission statement?
- How do I create a mission statement for my family?
- Can you give examples of a family mantra?
Actions to Take
- Complete the FREE Download: Family Mission Statement Worksheet
- Come up with a family mission statement that reflects the core values
- Bonus: brainstorm a phrase that epitomizes the values and mission of your family. Could be a quote like “Just keep swimming.” Think of it as the family mantra.
Key Topics in the Show
Why you should have a family mission statement even if you don’t have kids.
How a family mission statement can help you cut through the clutter and direct your decisions.
What are the secret ground rules to a winning family mission.
Exercises to do together as a couple before you bring in the kids.
The questions you need to answer to come up with a shared mission statement.
Resources and Links
- Listen to Episode 004: Find Your North Star
- Recommended Books for Families with Children:
Hello, hello everyone, and welcome to Productivity Paradox, I’m your host Tanya Dalton and this is episode five. Today we are going to be taking what we talked about last time, in episode four, where we talked about personal mission statements. We are going to be applying this to family mission statements. Now hold on, before you say, “Oh, this episode isn’t for me, I don’t have a family.” I want you to stop right there, and I want you to think about a family is more than a husband and a wife and 2.5 kids and a dog and a cat.
A family can be two people who are in a committed relationship. You don’t even have to necessarily be married, but if you’re in a committed relationship, you’re your own little family right there. Take those conventional ideas of what a family is and let’s throw those out the window because if you are involved with other people in some sort of close relationship, you are a family, okay?
I really think it’s important to create mission statements for your family, because it helps you to guide through the in this world and direct your decisions. Just as it does a company or just like we talked about for last week, when we did our personal mission statements, a family mission statement does that too. It helps to create some unity. As you make decisions everyone agrees and understands with the process. People understand, in that family with you, what the core values are, and what you are working towards.
Now when I was looking for information to set my own family’s mission statement, I found that a lot of things that I found online were really too long. When I read about them they seemed like they focused solely on families with kids. As I mentioned, a family can be just two people. Anyone you’re in a commitment with, that is your family. After all, marriage and relationships are made up by two separate people with separate ideas, separate dreams, and separate thoughts on how family should work. You’ll notice the emphasis there on that word should.
Everyone’s thoughts are going to be different. Everyone has their own ideas about how those things should work. Each person in your family, whether your family is made up of two people or ten, has different strengths and dreams and goals. That’s the beautiful thing about family.
Writing a mission statement really helps you to create a positive family culture. It begins to build a family identity. Loving and supportive families don’t just happen. They take intenton and they take work. Now this can sound and feel a little bit corny. I totally get that, but think about this. Ask yourself this: How can we ask others, in our family, to uphold our values if we never articulate what those values are? You cannot expect other people to agree with your values and your thoughts if you guys haven’t shared that. If you haven’t discussed it and you haven’t gone deep enough in your conversations to know what you’re wanting to build and grow together.
Over time, these mission statements can define the different personalities and the giOs everybody in the family has. It can help you come together. It distinguishes you and creates a family unit. It really does create a sense of unity and a sense of teamwork. To be honest with you, I see this myself in my own kids, because we call ourselves Team Dalton. Now John and I have a unique relationship because not only are we marriage partners, we are parents, but we also are business partners. We spend approximately 23 hours a day together. We have a very unique relationship. We stress this team aspect a lot with our kids because my kids, right now, are 10 and 13. Ever since they were liKe tiny little bits, when they were just learning to crawl we always called ourselves a team.
Even now we call them Team Dalton because they come in and they work with me in the studio when they have days off school. I want them to feel like they are a part of our family business, that they are part of our team. I really feel that makes them feel a little more special; that they are part of this unique team that nobody else is a part of. We work together to make things happen. If one member of our team doesn’t do their part, the whole team can fall apart. We have a lot of talks in our house about, “We goJa work together as a team.” When they’re not doing their fair share, we ask them if they’re being a team player. They think about it and many times they realize they’re not, because they know that we rely on them, just as much as they rely on us. We’re a team and it takes all of us.
Having a family mission statement has really helped us lay a vision of where we want to go as that team. When we talked in episode four about our personal mission statements we dug really deep. We figured out what we really wanted. That’s what we’re going to be doing again this week as you draO your mission statement as a family. It’s a really good chance to have some really deep conversations with your family that sometimes can feel a little bit woo-woo, for lack of a beJer word, but you end up learning a lot about each other when you have these really deep and meaningful conversations. It gives you an excuse to talk about things that you don’t normally feel like you can bring up.
How does this work? It’s not as simple as finding a quiet spot and reflecting. That worked maybe for personal mission statements, but I’m going to tell you right now, especially if you have kids, it’s going to get a little bit noisy. If your kids are anything like mine it’ll probably even get a little bit silly, but that, honestly, is the beauty of this process. It’s about bringing you together and finding your core values, and having fun while you’re doing it.
Now that said, we need to start by laying a few ground rules, because nothing says “fun” like ground rules, right? Okay, let’s start with number one: Keeping It Realistic. We want to make sure that when we’re answering the questions, to get us to our mission statement, we’re not saying things that are too rigid or perfectionist. We want to avoid absolutes, like “We will never fight,” or “We will always spend time together on Saturday nights,” because there’s going to be Saturday nights where something else happens and you can’t spend time together. Once that happens, you lose sight of some of these answers. You really want to give yourself a little bit of flexibility and a little bit of grace so that you can make sure that these answers and this mission statement can work for you for the long haul.
We’re not making a master list. We’re not creatng a to-do list, it’s not necessarily about divvying up family chores. It’s about working together to get things done. How can you do that and do that as a team? Any chance you can I encourage you to be specific. You’re going to want to avoid broad statements like, “We’ll communicate.” You want to include the “how.” For example, instead of “We’ll communicate,” you could say, “We will make sure and share our weekly calendars at the beginning of the week.” Something like that; so it tells you how you’re going to do it.
Now I really encourage you to take your time. Make sure that everyone has a voice. That’s it for the ground rules. Pretty easy and pretty simple. Let’s go ahead and dig in. Don’t worry, if you don’t know where to start, because this time I have two exercises for you to go through. I’ll have these exercises wriJen out for you in my show notes. If you go to inkwellpress.com/podcast, I’ll have these show notes wriJen under episode five. You’ll just have to click there to access them. But don’t do it just yet, because I want to tell you how this process is going to work.
The first exercise you’re going to do together is as a couple. You’re going to want to do this before you bring it in to the kids, or if it’s just two of you, you’re going to do both the exercises, but do this one first. Exercise one is you, together, as a couple. What you’ll do is you’ll sit down together and
©Productivity Paradox Page 2 of 5
figure out your own ideas of how the two of you work together, so you can really guide your mission statement. Knowing the values just the two of you have discussed together. Trust me, this is going to help you heard those cats, because when you have all the kids in the room, whether you have one kid or three kids, or ten kids, it can get a little bit crazy. You want to be able to give a little bit of guidance and really it starts with the two of you figuring out a few things on your own first.
Take a little bit of time to connect in ways that you might not have done in the past. It’s definitely a good thing to do and it really helps you get to know your partner a little bit beJer. I’ve created ten questions for you to answer. Just to give you a couple examples, here’s a few of them. question four will say, “How can we both support each other in our individual goals?” question eight, “What new traditions do we want to create for ourselves and our family?” There’s going to be some questions like that that dig a little bit deeper into where you’re wanting to go as a couple and a little bit into where you want to go as a family.
Then aOer you do that exercise, we’ll follow up with a list of questions for everyone in your family to answer together. Let me stress this, even if you’re just that family of two, like we talked about, you’re a family unit. You want to go through both sets of questions to really clarify and see that you both have the same vision for your life together, because when you have the same vision you’re more likely to understand when you have arguments or when things are not quite going the right … The way that you expected them to.
Keep in mind, this is not something that has to be done in 15 minutes. You might want to share the questions and then take some time to reflect before coming back together to answer. Some of them you might really want to think on for a while. Especially in that first exercise where you’re laying the foundation for your family together. Now you can use what you learned in that first exercise to help guide the conversation when it’s time to call in the rest of the team. That’s what happens next.
You do exercise one together as a couple and then call a family meeting. Now this is not just any old family meeting. This is a special family meeting. If you normally have family meetings, maybe on a regular basis, you might want to try and make it a little more special because you want to make this a unique activity that you’re doing together. I’ve been known to have family picnics on the floor of my living room when I want to make a family meeting extra special. I’ll spread out picnic blankets, I’ll have pizza, something we never do in the living room. My kids really get excited for it and it makes the evening really extra special. Whatever it is, make it a little different from your normal meetings.
Then you’re going to ask the questions that dig deep into who you are as a family. I want to encourage you to listen to each other empathetically. Really listen and write it all down. Even the silly things and there will be some really silly things said, trust me. Don’t worry about those questions either, because I’ve got exercise in my show notes at inkwellpress.com/podcast. Go to episode five, you’ll see exercise one and exercise two.
Now exercise two, that you’re doing with your family, has 15 questions that you’ll walk through together. I’ll give you a couple of those, just to give you an idea of how it will work. question five say, “If we had a completely free day together as a family, how would we spend it?” What you’d want to have happen here is that each person in your family answers that question. Not all at once, but everyone goes around, maybe in a circle, and take their time and answers that question honestly. One person’s going to write this down.
Then you’re going to go on and answer question six and seven, and we get to question nine: What are three things we think we could do beJer as a family? Sometimes these answers might surprise you. Things that your kids will say, or things that your partner might say, might really surprise you. It does me, every time we do this exercise I’m usually a little bit thrown off, or a little surprised by at least one or two of the answers. It really gives you some good insight into those other members of your family.
Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to go through and you’re going to answer the 15 questions. You’re going to look at those responses and see if you’re finding a commonly repeated theme of what kind of values and priorities that seem to be resonating with your family as a whole. Look through that list and then together circle those common themes. Then you’re going to look at those circled responses and brainstorm a list of your core values.
Core values are things like adventure, creativity, spirituality, faith, kindness, health. Don’t worry about zeroing in, let everybody add to the list. Figure out what are the core values that seem to be the things that are resonating a lot with your family. Don’t worry about zeroing it in because aOer you’ve goJen that whole list, you can work together to while that list of values down to maybe two or three. A good way to do that is using a voting system. That’s what we do. We write our list out and then we vote together about which ones are the most important ones. If you have to, use a blind voting system, because sometimes brothers and sisters or siblings can just vote against each other just because. I know this, because I’m a mom myself, right?
One of the big core values in my family is mindfulness. I am always talking about being mindful. Mindful with your actions, mindful with how you treat others, mindful with your words, I think I use the word mindful every single day. To be honest with you, it’s not really something I thought about before I was a mom. I never thought about what words I would use consistently, but I found, as I was raising my kids, that I was saying that word every single day. I was saying it without thinking, so it seemed to come naturally to our family that that was one of our core values.
Coming up with a mission statement that reflects those values and priorities is going to be our next step. For my family, it’s mindfulness, and we’ll talk about that again here in just a few minutes. You really want to make sure that when you’re writing your mission statement, it feels like a collaboration, because it needs to be a team effort. This is one of the first things you’re doing as your team. You want to make sure everyone feels like they’re getting a say, everyone gets a chance to put in their two cents.
You want to make sure that you keep your mission statement nice and short so it’s easy to say, it’s easy to memorize, and it’s easy to use. I really encourage you too, to hang it somewhere in your home, because that way it will remind everyone. It’s something you’ll talk about again and again.
Now, as I mentioned, I said my family’s core value, one of them, is mindfulness. My family’s mission statement is, “We will be mindful in our actions by thinking of others, and considering other people’s feelings so that we put forth good in the world.” I use that basic template of “We will,” do something, in such a way that does something, so that, what are the results gained? Again, it was, “We will be mindful in our actions by thinking of others, and considering other people’s feelings, so that we put forth good in the world.”
Now we talk about our mission statement a lot. I use the word “mindful” a lot, too. The key here is to use your mission statement often. I use it when I am disciplining my kids. I use it when they’re giffing out of the car to go to school. I use it when they’re helping me set the table. We use that word, “mindful” again and again.
As a bonus you might want to brainstorm some phrases that epitomize your values and your goals as a family. This can be really fun because it could be a quote from one of your favorite movies. It could be part of a speech that you all seem to like. It could be a phrase, or a poem, a quote from a movie, if you want, just a phrase that you’re ready to use, and you’re ready to use it oOen. Like, “Just keep swimming.” That’s a great one from Finding Nemo. Think of it like your family mantra, because it makes it really easy to say it again and again.
Quite honestly, mine is “Be mindful.” That’s it. I say it all the time. In all situations, all I have to do is uJer it for my kids to know if they need to re-direct their actions, or maybe rephrase what they’re saying. I can just say it under my breath, “be mindful,” and they know what I’m talking about because we’ve had these deep conversations and they know that this is a core value for our family. Just like with a personal mission statement, you’re going to want to revisit this yearly. As you and your family grow and your kids get older and things evolve and change, new mantras might begin to be more important.
Now, if you have younger kids, you may feel like some of these exercises are a little bit above their heads. That’s okay, ’cause it’s something you really want to start with while they’re young, if you can. If you’re kids are already older, that’s okay, too. If you have younger kids, you’ll want to guide more of the conversation that you have together as a family. Just keep in mind that even the littlest member of your family is part of your team. You have to make sure that they feel like they’re treated as such. That they have some of the responsibility of working together to create these mission statements.
The other thing you might want to consider is reading a couple of books that I think are really good for younger ones. I’m a former teacher, so I’m always talking about books to read with kids. The Three questions, by Tolstoy. There’s a great adaptation by John Muff. Another great book is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lynn. I’ll make sure to include both of those links in my show notes. You might want to start by reading that book with your kids. If you’re kids are really young, you might want to read it a couple of times and talk about the books themselves before you jump into the exercises.
Okay, the exercises are all in the show notes at inkwellpress.com/podcast. You’ll be able to find them there. I’m really excited for you to work together and to build your family up as a team so you’re working as a family unit. This is going to make it so much easier for you when you’re making decisions,
when you’re wanting to change directions of something you’re doing together as a family, or even on those tough times when you’re trying to discipline, ’cause I know discipline can be not fun. I know that from personal experience.
I wish you the best of luck with this because I think it will be a fun activity for you to do with your family and I am thrilled for you to learn a little bit more about one another because I really think this is how you develop deep and meaningful relationships with your partner and with your kids. All right, I’d love to hear your family mission statements, so feel free to connect with me at inkwellpress.com. I have the podcast there, with the show notes. I also have some social buJons there at the top where you can find me, or you can look for me on social media, using the username inkwellpress.
Now, next time we meet we are going to be talking about finding our priorities. That’s a big one for me. I’m excited about that. Until next time, happy planning.
**This transcript is created by AI, so please excuse any typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes.
Tanya Dalton is a top female keynote speaker with topics on productivity, time management, goals, habits and delegation.