Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Now that you have mastered Habit 1: Being Proactive. You can begin with the end in mind as the second habit. Quick recap in Habit 1 though.
1. Act upon feelings and emotions, rather than reacting.
2. Create your own pause button, in order to stop & think about the stimulus. Then, respond with actions and not reactions.
3. Utilize the Four Human Gifts: self-awareness, conscience, imagination, & will-power.
4. Live within the Circle of Influence, rather than the Circle of Concern.
5. Use Five Ways of Love: Being Kind, Apologize, Being Loyal to those Not Present, Making & Keeping Promises, and Forgive
6. Fill up Emotional Piggy Banks.

As you remember in Habit 1, there is the basic principle that, "I am responsible for my actions." If I believe this and act out the principles in Habit 1, then I need to know how to work it all out. This happens through instituting Habit 2 in our daily lives, which is 'Begin with the End in Mind.' It is knowing where you want to be headed in your family. The easiest way of doing this is creating a Family Mission Statement.

Through creating a Family Mission Statement, you're enabling yourself freedom in other areas, which do not pertain to the end goal. Perfect example of this is in a bit of harried moment I had last week with Veronica. One of the ways I can deposit into her emotional piggy bank is via "words of affirmation." As she was clearing her dishes after dinner to take them to the sink, she lost focus and the bowl of rice and beans were now resting directly on her dress. I overreacted with my tone of voice and lacked care & love for her. Instead of viewing the situation as "typical three year old innocence," I allowed my emotions and frustration of the mess get the better of me. I let the "end goal" slip through, which is letting the beans & rice on the dress be nothing more than a mess to clean up and let Veronica know that messes happen, but it doesn't reflect what I think about her. I came back and apologized for overreacting and my hurting tone. By coming back to say sorry and ask forgiveness, I was able to refocus and see the end again.

By beginning with the end in mind, doesn't mean you go off course (as seen above); rather, it means that you have a destination. You are tapping into the vision you have for yourself & your family, regardless of past or present baggage. Can you imagine going through life without that vision? What a crummy, hopeless place to live. So, here are some questions you might ask yourself, your spouse, or your family as a whole.

What is the essential mission or purpose of this family, and what is the main strategy in accomplishing that purpose?

Here are some other questions to start thinking about your family's mission statement:
  1. What kind of family do we really want to be?
  2. What kind of home would you like to invite your friends to?
  3. What embarrasses you about your family?
  4. What makes you feel comfortable here?
  5. What makes you want to come home?
  6. What makes you feel drawn to us as your parents so that you are open to our influence?
  7. What makes us feel open to your influence?
  8. What do we want to be remembered by?
As you create your family mission statement, you can post it in a prominent place to serve not only as a reminder, but as a reflective piece to ensure you are headed toward your the right destination. The mission statement is your destination, while utilizing the Four Human Gifts are the compass to help you get there.

In Creating Your Own Family Mission Statement

Step One: Explore What Your Family Is All About
  • If your family is the two of you, here are some questions (some of these questions also work well when your children are in the younger years, as well.):
  1. What kind of marriage partners do we want to be?
  2. How do we want to treat each other?
  3. How do we want to resolve our differences?
  4. How do we want to handle our finances?
  5. What kind of parents do we want to be?
  6. What principles do we want to teach our children to help them prepare for adulthood and to lead responsible, caring lives?
  7. How do we help develop the potential talent of each child?
  8. What kind of discipline do we want to use with our children?
  9. What roles (earning, financial management, housekeeping, and so on) will each of us have?
  10. How can we best relate to each other's families?
  11. What traditions do we bring with us from the families in which we were raised?
  12. What traditions do we want to keep and create?
  13. What intergenerational traits or tendencies are we happy or unhappy with, and how do we make changes?
  14. How do we want to give back?
  • If the two (or just one) of you are older and your children are grown:
  1. What can we do to promote the growth & happiness of our children and grandchildren?
  2. What needs do they have that we can help fulfill?
  3. What principles should govern our interaction with them?
  4. In what ways can we appropriately be involved in their lives and their families?
  5. How can we encourage them to deal with their challenges and problems within the context of that statement?
  6. How can we help them want to give back?
  • If your family is three or more (these questions vary depending on the age of your children):
  1. What is the purpose of our family?
  2. What kind of family do we want to be?
  3. What kinds of things do we want to do?
  4. What kind of feeling do we want to have in our home?
  5. What kind of relationships do we want to have with one another?
  6. How do we want to treat one another and speak to one another?
  7. What things are truly important to us as a family?
  8. What are our family's highest priority goals?
  9. What are the unique talents, gifts, and abilities of family members?
  10. What are our responsibilities as family members?
  11. What are the principles and guidelines we want our family to follow?
  12. Who are our heroes? What is it about them that we like and would like to emulate?
  13. What families inspire us and why do we admire them?
  14. How can we contribute to society as a family and become more service-oriented?

Step Two: Write Your Family Mission Statement

As you get all the ideas out on the table, you will want to start refining the major themes and weave them into a phrase, statement(s), or even words that encapsulate your unique family. This is done after everyone shares their thoughts to the above questions, and you make a couple drafts of what will end up as the final Family Mission Statement.

Step Three: Use It to Stay on Track

I like what Covey says about using the mission statement to stay on track, or course, but not as a checklist. It's a living & breathing document to serve as a foundation on which you build as a family.

**All of the questions were taken from the book 7 Habits for Highly Effective Families. If you want more examples of family mission statements, go to:

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