Power 2 Parent
Published: January 11, 2024

How To: Let’s Resolve to Create A Family Mission Statement in 2024

By Rachel Caldwell, Power2Parent

By Rachel Caldwell, Power2Parent

All successful companies have a mission statement to keep them focused, so why are we leaving the most important organization we will ever be a part of, our families, without one?

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families,” Stephen Covey details how applying the principles of the habits to our families will result in a nurturing family culture that weathers challenges in a productive way.

Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is lauded as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. In this application of the habits to the family, he applies his principles to what he is most passionate about:

I firmly believe that family is the building block of society and that the most important work you or I will ever do will be within our family relationships. If we as a society were to work with all our might to improve all other areas of life and yet neglect the family, it would be analogous to spending our time straightening the chairs on the deck of a great ship in the midst of sinking. (p. xii)

In this season of resolutions, why not focus our attention on creating a family plan that has the potential of creating lasting generational change?

Read on for a summary of the seven habits and how they can be applied to a family plan:

Habit #1: Be Proactive

Influencing Your Family from the Inside Out

Covey calls Habit #1 the key to success with regards to the remaining habits and the starting point for enacting positive change within our families.

Being proactive means first to focus on issues within our ‘circle of influence’ as opposed to our larger ‘circle of concern,’ as Covey calls them. In essence, we should focus our attention on the areas that we can actually change.

Additionally, the change begins with us. If we introspectively know that we have the freedom to choose what our reaction will be to any given situation, we are being proactive.

Family Plan Action: Create a family pause button, such as a common word or hand signal that indicates there needs to be a break in interaction. This pause allows family members to be proactive in choosing how they will respond in the scenario.

Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind

Bringing Purpose and Vision to Your Family

Beginning with the end in mind is creating a blueprint for the direction of the family. The most successful organizations have thoughtful and robust mission statements, so why would we leave the direction of our most important group unplanned with no vision for its future?

Family Plan Action: Create a family mission statement. This mission statement is a collaborative expression of the family’s values and dreams. The mission statement provides inspiration for the day and serves to give family members a sense of identity and belonging.

Habit #3: Put First Things First

Making Time for Family Time

Creating a family mission statement requires mental work, and putting first things first requires physical work – a re-shifting of priorities. How we spend our time should reflect our values as outlined in the family mission statement. Oftentimes, the two do not match up.

Family Plan Action: Make better use of family mealtimes. Mealtimes are the low-hanging fruit for families looking to create more intentional time together. Everyone has to eat, so why not make this time spent with one another purposeful?

Regular family mealtime results in the preparation of healthier meals, enhanced communication, better mental health, better grades, less risky behavior for teenagers and more opportunities for parents to act as role models.

Habit #4: Think Win-Win

Making Deposits in Your Family Relationships

Thinking win-win operates on the supposition that there is ‘more than enough for everyone.’ Not only can I win, but you can too. We create trust with our family members by making deposits in their emotional bank account. Those deposits come in the form of small daily kindnesses, sincere apologies, promises kept, forgiveness extended and loyalty shown to family members when they are absent. A ‘spirit of we,’ or healthy interdependence, is reinforced.

Family Plan Action: Be more loyal to the absent.

Talk about your other family members as if they are in the room with you. Build family members up as opposed to complaining about them, which is a withdrawal from their emotional account, damaging the trust relationship.

Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Getting to the Heart of Family Communication

Humans desire to be understood. Seeking first to understand requires empathic listening, which is to listen with the intent of seeing the world through the eyes of the other person. Understanding the viewpoint of the other allows for the listener to then communicate his position from a framework that will be understood.

Family Plan Action: Don’t interrupt each other when talking. Empathic listening requires just that- to listen without interruption. Empathic listeners should avoid prematurely advising, probing or interpreting.

Habit #6: Synergize

Uniting the Strengths of Everyone

Synergy is what occurs when the strengths and differences of each team member are combined in a unified effort that results in an outcome greater than what could be achieved individually. Synergy is when ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ – collaborative, creative interdependence.

Family Plan Action: Agree on three strengths of every family member. Define family members by their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses. Identify the unique strengths each family member brings to the table.

Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw

Renewing the Body, Mind, Heart, and Spirit

To sharpen the saw is to care for oneself on a regular basis in four areas of basic human need: physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual. Covey recommends sharpening each saw daily. By doing so, family members remain ready to help others sharpen their own saws.

Family Plan Action: Do a physical exercise once a week as a family. Performing physical exercise as a family not only improves the health and wellbeing of each member, but it also contributes to creating a family culture that prioritizes health.

Source: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

(Covey, 1997)

*The family plan actions are taken from the sample Family Flight Plan which can be found on p. 338 of the book.