Setting Priorities for all the Balls You’re Juggling in the Air! (Including a visual)

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Are You Making Room for Your Top Priorities?

If you think of the golf balls as your/your family’s top priorities, the marbles as your medium priorities and the sand as all the distractions, what is your jar looking like?

This image comes from an old story about a professor who performed this experiment in front of the class.  Essentially, if one fills the jar with the sand first, there will be no room for the marbles and the golf balls.   The golf balls represent the top priorities in life – the kinds of things that if all else was lost, your life would still be full.  The marbles represent the other things that matter such as your job, your house etc.  The sand is everything else, the small stuff, the distractions.  This would make a great family meeting activity.  You could find a jar and recreate this experiment while determining what is most important to each of you and to you as a family.  This could also be a fun activity to do in a classroom on a lesson about goal setting.

Golf Balls = ______________,  _______________,  __________________,  ____________________

Marbles = _______________,  _______________, __________________, ___________________, __________________

Sand = What are the distractions?   Internet, Video Games, Texting, TV?  Nowadays it seems as though it’s the screens that distract us the most.

In my previous article on How to Fill Your Child and Spouse’s Emotional Bank Account and the Circles of Concern vs. Circles of Influence, I referred to Stephen Covey’s excellent book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, and summarized Habit #1 Be Proactive.

Today’s article connects to Stephen Covey’s Habit #2 for Highly Effective Families:

Begin with the End in Mind

Stephen Covey suggests creating a family mission statement as a process and end product for summarizing  your family values.

What is a Family Mission Statement? … A Family Compass

Creating a family mission statement is a very powerful process.  By going through the process of carefully identifying a family’s shared values and visions, it keeps everyone accountable and aligned with what is most important to the family as a whole.   Most businesses, schools, organizations etc. have a mission statement, and even Martial Arts studios usually have a creed that is recited at the beginning of each class – even with the three year olds!  Thus, it makes sense that families, that would have their own mission statement.

What Does a Family Mission Statement Look Like?

A Family Mission Statement may be a word, a phrase, a song, a poem, a piece of art, a document, an image, a symbol or some other creative idea such as using each letter from the family surname and creating a sentence for each letter.  What is most important is that it is created by everyone in the family, it represents everyone, and it brings everyone together.  It becomes the compass point for making family decisions, planning family vacations, problem-solving etc.  It creates a value-system and family identity, from which important decisions are made.

We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices.  We choose the thoughts that we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform.  Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we’ve selected to govern our lives.  In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.

~ Benjamin Franklin

The Steps to Creating Your Own Family Mission Statement

Step One:   Brainstorm every family member’s ideas and feelings regarding family and priorities, while remembering that in brainstorming all ideas are written down without judgment.  Depending on the age of your children, you might give everyone a few blank flashcards to write down their ideas first before putting them all together to share.

Step Two:  At your next family meeting, put all the ideas out on the table again and this time begin the process of synthesizing all the hopes, values and beliefs.  The goal is to create your first draft and then wait a while.   Once it reaches a point where everyone feels comfortable and committed, write it up as a good copy, and give everyone a copy or display it on a wall.  If your family  prefers to be artistic, create your art piece that represents the content of your family mission statement.

Step Three:  Use the mission statement to keep each family member aligned with the family values and beliefs.  Refer back to it often and use it for planning such as planning a family vacation that gives you a chance to experience your values, hopes and beliefs.  For example, if one of the components was for your family to have courage then a challenging experience could be incorporated into a family holiday.  Refer back to it at your family meetings to see if everyone is “on track”.

There are many styles, but what’s important is finding the time to create the mission statement or taking the time to discuss priorities and determining which, of the many balls that you’re juggling in the air, are the golf balls.

Good luck setting priorities and getting those golf balls into the jar!  Stay tuned for the continuation of this theme next week, Habit #3 :  Put First Things First!

Warmly,

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