(This article was originally published on www.svprojectmanagement.com)
Continuing our exploration into envisioning your family’s fabulous future . . .
Stage 4 – Communication and appreciation are essential ingredients in your family’s excellent adventure. Keep the communication flowing. Conversation creates reality, and is also a terrific way to clear out the cobwebs. What’s rewarded is repeated, so make sure you reinforce what’s working lest it disappear. You’re on your way to achieving your family’s dreams Now make this a way of life.
Step 1. Communicate
One of the top reasons people failure to achieve their goals is poor communication. And it’s no wonder! Just have a look at your stakeholder map and you’ll see that there’s a lot of communication required to keep everyone aligned. Communication is invisible work, so when life gets busy we can be lulled into accepting a few words shared in passing over breakfast, an email or two, and a blizzard of text messages, as a substitute for the kind of quality communication that forms the foundation of every successful family. Don’t settle for digital substitutes for heart-to-heart sharing with your family! All of your planning will be for naught if you don’t keep your finger on the pulse of the human relationships that are at the heart of your family’s success. Make time for one-on-one discussions among all family members, and with key stakeholders. And schedule those all important whole family meetings frequently enough to keep relationships strong, clear the air of any issues blocking progress, and renew your enthusiasm and commitment to each other and your shared dreams.
Step 2. Practice the Attitude of Gratitude
We seem to be conditioned from an early age to notice what’s not working and focus on criticism instead of appreciation for what’s right with the world and other people. And that bias toward critique is reinforced by a society where negative people appear smarter. Recognizing what’s working well is equally important. Be Grateful. Appreciating our own contributions and those of others provides much needed motivation to continue onward. Even mistakes can open a doorway to new possibilities, so consider being grateful even for those. Practice an attitude of gratitude. If you want your family to truly achieve your greatest potential, take time to celebrate successes along the way — and some failures, too!
Keep an Eye Out
On a regular basis you’ll need to keep an eye on your stakeholders and goals, reassess the risks and upside, and accommodate changes that occur that impact your goals and plans. Periodic family meetings should include a review of these key areas. And every once in a while you’ll benefit from revisiting the exercises suggested here. Family success is a lifelong habit, so don’t just “set it and forget it”! Keep your eyes open to what’s happening, and your mind open to the possibilities in which you swim.
Wrap Up & Call to Action
If you and your family do faithfully follow this guidance you may very well find yourself living something along the lines of this attractive scenario, rather than the doom and gloom one so many families endure.
Our Family’s Excellent Adventure
Having thought and talked a lot about the future and what kind of life they wanted to live, the happy couple chose a reasonably-priced wedding celebration with family and a few close friends. They secured good-paying jobs that were flexible enough to allow them to go to school at night to upgrade their skills or finish their education. When they finally decided the time was right to have children they both had terrific jobs and a reasonable nest egg to carry them through the drop in their income. Moving into a home that they could easily afford on even one income, they started saving for the baby’s college education every month instead of living lavishly like some of their friends. Dining out was a treat, not a frequent occurrence, and they saved hundreds of dollars a month that way. Deciding to have a small family was difficult, but they knew they’d have to make much tougher trade-offs if they created a larger one. Instead they made sure there were plenty of opportunities for the kids in the extended family to enjoy each other’s company. Vacations were practical and affordable, and paid for in advance. Half the fun was planning and anticipating them together as a family!
Even though they lived quite a distance from their hometown, each year there was always enough money set aside to celebrate the holidays with close relatives. And when it was time for college and their child had their pick of some excellent schools, the college savings, which had grown substantially over the 18 years since their birth, was more than adequate to cover the expenses. Good study habits, and the resulting excellent grades, led to scholarships didn’t hurt either! Equipped with a great education and lifelong habits of planning and saving, the kids grew to be responsible adults who lived within their means and didn’t come running back to the parents for a mid-life bailout. Consequently the parents, who had been setting clear financial goals for their retirement for decades, were able to retire earlier than they’d originally planned, and in a very comfortable style. As they aged they had plenty of resources to provide the assistance and support they needed to live their last years in a dignified way, without being a burden to their child. Upon their death they even had enough money to leave a generous nest egg to support their grandchildren’s educations.
EXERCISE, NOT READING, BUILDS MUSCLE! These techniques have been proven to deliver results that were considered highly unlikely, or even darn near impossible. If you start today, you’ll begin enjoying the benefits of this approach within a matter of months. If you start next year, you’ll wish you’d started today! I hope you’ll invest at least as much time in your family’s future as you do watching television each week.by