Family Goals

Many people love to set goals. We set goals in our education, our work life, and our personal life. Goals are what motivate us to achieve higher and higher, rather than staying stagnant, dull, and unhappy.

While most goals have to do with yourself and self-commitment alone, family goals are a little bit different. When you set family goals, you’re including all of the members of your family, rather than just focusing on yourself.

It’s no wonder that many families have never tried this because let’s face it; it’s hard to coordinate goals with other people. It’s hard to get your family members to do anything you ask them to do half of the time!

However, family goals can be an excellent way to grow and develop as a unit, moving forward together instead of drifting off on individual paths. As parents, we invest in our children’s success, and as children, we look to our parents as role models.

Family goals can help broaden and define these roles while helping us realize that we’re all in this together.

Why Set Family Goals: The Benefits

As wonderful as our families are, and as much as we love them, we all know how busy life can be the bigger they are. Even married couples without children deal with hectic schedules and ongoing to-do lists that never seem to end.

So, why would anyone want to add to this stress with just one more thing that has to get done?

Actually, there are many benefits to setting goals alone, and others that come with setting family goals. If you’re feeling weary just thinking about the idea of starting family goals, take a look at some of the awesome benefits.

Many of the benefits that come with setting family goals align with the Family Strengths Research Project, which identified universal characteristics of a happy family.


According to this project, communication is an important part of not just family relationships, but really any relationship. Families greatly benefit from clear communication with one another—communication that is defined as loving, understanding, and patient.

In order to have successful family goals, the members of the family unit have to communicate. Otherwise, nothing will be accomplished, and the whole thing will end up being a little pointless. By having your family participate in setting goals, you’re positively influencing communication.

Togetherness & Acceptance

When your family sets goals together, everyone gets to be involved—even the young children of the group. By including everyone in the process and getting everyone excited, you’re allowing them to feel a part of something important.

Togetherness is very important for the happiness of a family. Kids get to feel like they’re involved in the decision process, which makes them feel worthwhile. Acceptance is equally as important, as members of a family want to feel like they’re on the inside with everyone else.


Commitment plays a huge role in a family’s happiness. A wife needs to feel that her husband is committed to her, while children need to know that their parents are committed to them. Without commitment, relationships become unstable and hold no accountability or trust.

When you make commitments together, you only strengthen those trusting bonds. Setting family goals lets you all commit to something together.


Of course, every commitment made together requires intensive amounts of support. Family members should be able to rely on one another for support through everyday life. This can be family members supporting a child at a sporting event or a wife supporting her husband through job troubles.

When a family commits to a goal together, they can rely on each other for support. Everyone is aiming for the same goal, so support is abundant through the process.


Bad things happen in life. That’s not to take this discussion to a negative end; it’s just a fact. The strongest, happiest families don’t avoid bad things; they are just resilient through them.

It certainly takes some reliance to accomplish goals. You have to have discipline and confidence along with the will to face obstacles and keep others going. Resilience is great for a family in general and setting family goals can help you grow this trait in your family.

How to Set Family Goals

It sounds like a very formal task: setting a family goal. You may have images of lining your children up on the sofa and dad preparing charts and whiteboards and hand-outs.

Certainly, this doesn’t sound like fun—for you or the kids. However, this also doesn’t have to be how you do it. Here are a few tips on how you and your family can start setting goals together in a way that brings everyone closer.

Keep it Fun!

When I was growing up, there was always a deep sense of dread that filled me every time my parents said we needed to have a “family meeting.” This is definitely not the atmosphere you want to create when you’re sitting your family down to set goals.

Keep the conversation lighthearted and fun. Encourage participation and let your kids know that this is not a “talk,” but a family discussion where all opinions and thoughts are welcome. Make sure your kids know that they aren’t being punished—your goals aren’t about chores or mundane tasks.

Remain positive throughout the discussion. You can even try to explain the benefits of setting family goals. Just make sure you speak in a way that’s age appropriate for your kids.

Even if it’s just you and your spouse, this conversation shouldn’t be daunting or scary. It should be exciting!

Pick a Goal

This seems very obvious considering our topic, but it can be one of the hardest parts about family goal setting. Maybe you have already decided that you like the potential benefits of goal-setting and you want your family to take part. Great! But, choosing the actual goal itself can be a little difficult, especially the first time around.

If you’re having trouble thinking of good goals for your family, take a look at this list of suggestions:

  • Commit to family time, like game nights and movie nights
  • Aim for no electronics at the dinner table
  • Volunteer together
  • Save money together for a family vacation
  • Eat healthier (more veggies, sugary snacks once a week, etc.)
  • Pray together every night before bed
  • Weekly family exercise
  • Read a book together
  • Clean up the yard together
  • Commit to solving problems through talks instead of arguments

These are just a few suggestions. Every family is different with varying aspirations and needs, so your idea of a family goal may be different from those listed above. If you’re still having a hard time, go right to the source: ask your family what goals they have in mind!

Time the Conversation

Starting the conversation to set a family goal can be a goal in and of itself. You (and your partner) should decide on a specific time to bring up this conversation.

Along the same lines of keeping the conversation fun, you should also keep the timing as informal as possible. These conversations often work best when you center them around another event.

For example, rather than tell everyone to meet in the living room in a half hour, plan to bring up the goal during or after a fun family event. You can bring it up after a family dinner just before dessert—in fact, if you have young kids that can’t focus for very long, it can be helpful to say, “after this talk, we’ll have dessert.”

You can also bring it up during a family game night or on your way home from an outing like bowling or mini golf. That way, everyone is in a good mood, everyone is happy, and everyone is more likely to participate and listen.

Prepare Supplies

Setting a family goal can often involve a lot of brainstorming. It’s a good idea to come prepared with a whiteboard, a chalkboard, note pads, sticky notes, and anything else you can think of that will help your family stay focused and involved.

If you can’t get your hands on a board of some sort, you can use poster board and markers. For younger kids, different colors can help get them excited and interested.

Do Not Present

Clearly, as a parent or even just the one introducing the topic of family goals, it can seem like you’re running the show. If you want a successful meeting, everyone needs to feel like they have a voice and can participate.

Especially for parents, it can be hard for kids to feel like they can chime in without getting a “no.” This is even truer when dad is standing in front of them with a display and a speech.

To avoid creating an environment of teacher-student, start your family discussion by introducing your goal idea and asking a question, such as: “What does everyone think?”

You can also ask other questions to keep everyone involved and participating. More direct questions tend to elicit more willing answers. Try: “How do you think you can help?” or “When do you think we can accomplish this goal by?”

Extend this technique by showing that you’re really listening to their answers. Repeat them back to whoever spoke and acknowledge their ideas and suggestions. Have a conversation about it, asking what everyone else thinks. Write ideas and suggestions down.


One mom suggests using the WOOP method while setting family goals. This acronym can help you take careful steps, staying organized and on track.


Take a moment during your family meeting to let everyone dream out loud a little. Allow time for everyone to say what they dream of achieving. This can be the most fun part of the process. However, it’s important to limit this time.

Dreaming and fantasizing can be really fun, especially for younger kids, but getting caught up in that aspect will deter from realistic planning.


Once you’ve decided on your wish or goal, clarify the specific outcome you’d like to achieve. Maybe your family agrees that they want to go on a fun family vacation. During this part of WOOP, you should decide where you would all like to go, how much money you’ll have to save up, and when you would like to go.

During this portion of the discussion, be sure to ask several what, where, when, and how questions to get the details sorted out.


After you have nailed down the what, when, where, etc. of your family’s goal, ask everyone what the obstacles are. What things or circumstance would prevent your goal from happening? Preparing your family for any obstacles is a good way to keep them realistic and focused.

In this step, brainstorming is key, and this is where it comes in handy to have multiple brains involved. Keep asking, “what else?” until no one can think of any more obstacles. Write these things down and display them along with your goal to keep everyone aware and vigilant.


You have your goal in place, and you’ve determined all the possible obstacles—now it’s time to make a solid plan. Come up with a list of “if-then” plans. These can be in relation to the obstacles you named as well as separates, like ways to save money.

For example, if someone wants to stop on the way home for milkshakes, then we’ll make milkshakes at home in the blender instead to save money.

If dad’s car breaks down and we need to dive into our vacation fund to fix it, we’ll push our savings date back a week.

You can also plan individually how everyone can help save money in other places. Let everyone throw out ideas of savings plans. Your teenage daughter might offer to stop getting her nails done at the salon until you’ve saved enough money for the trip, while dad can commit to no new tools for a while.

Display Your Goals

You should write your final goals, obstacles, and plans somewhere that has high traffic in your household. Pin the final copy to the fridge or hang it on the bulletin board. You can even print out individual copies for everyone to hang in their bedrooms.

If you have young kids involved in the plan, have them create and decorate posters for their room. Not only will this get them involved, but it will help keep them excited about the family goals. You can even do a big poster as a family to hang in the kitchen.

Review Regularly

You can’t make a big spectacle over planning these goals if you aren’t going to stick to them. The best way to make sure your family sticks to the plan is to review it consistently. Bring it up casually once a week at the dinner table or during a family outing. Check in with everyone to see how they’re doing with their parts of the plan.

Also, celebrate the small wins. This works particularly well with young kids. Maybe one of them comes to you with a piggy bank of coins that they want to donate to the vacation fund. Obviously, their coins don’t add up to much, but their giving heart and dedication to the family goal is certainly a win.

Work the rewards system and encourage one another. When a family member wants to purchase something, gently remind them of the family goal and ask if they really need what they’re trying to buy.

Helpful Tips

Sure, setting a family goal sounds fun. But what do you do to avoid lack of morale or enthusiasm? How do you achieve the best results for your family? I have given you a solid framework, but these tips might help you out just a little more.


Just like any goals you set—academic, career, etc.—you should use the SMART standard. SMART is a helpful acronym that helps you identify criteria in setting goals. While we’ve already given you tons of information on that, using SMART might just stick with you better.

So, what does SMART stand for?

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Each of these five words stands for something that all of your goals should qualify as. Let’s start with the first.


We briefly discussed this trait earlier, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate. Your goals should be very specific, especially with a family. When more than one person is in the mix, things can easily get confusing. Make sure your family’s goals are specific—who, what, where, when, and how. Not only will this avoid confusion, but it will help you make plans later.


Your goals work best when they involve something you can measure. For example, when saving for a family vacation, you can easily keep track of how much money you and your family have put away.

Measurable goals let you track your progress. You can update your family once a week on how your goal is going. This is a great motivator. The closer you get to your goal, the more excited your family will become.


This should go without saying, but don’t allow your family to set a goal that you know they cannot achieve. That’s setting your family up for failure, which isn’t very loving, nor is it fun to watch.

When setting your family’s goals, make sure everyone has a realistic head on their shoulders. Be quick to explain away unrealistic goals, but give reasonable explanations as to why.

You can go for goals that are challenging, especially with older kids or smaller families, but make sure that they’re possible.


Family goals work best when they are relevant to the whole family. It wouldn’t make sense to set a family goal of dad getting a promotion or your bother winning his soccer tournament. Sure, those are both important things that the family can be supportive of, but they’re not necessarily considered family goals.

Explain to your family or spouse how to keep their goal suggestions relevant and why that’s important for the success of your family.


This area touches on the when of your family’s goals. Every goal needs to have an endpoint. Otherwise, it’s not really a goal. Without a deadline, your goal sort of floats there with no motivation to get going on it.

If your family decides they want to go on a vacation but doesn’t specify when there’s no urgency or drive to save money. Who knows when, or if, it will ever happen? Keep your goals time-bound so you can really go after them.

Then, when you hit your deadline and achieve your goal, you can make room for a new one.

Maintain Involvement

Certain family goals can leave family members wondering what their role is in the process. For example, setting a goal for a family vacation might seem like a mom and dad thing, since they are the ones who make the paychecks. How can kids get involved in a goal like that?

Well, there are certainly creative ways to keep your kids in the mix.

If you’re talking about a savings plan, set a jar up in the kitchen labeled “vacation.” This won’t be your main savings (you should probably do that in a bank account for safety), but you can make this a public place where you kids can drop coins or dollars.

When the jar fills up, mom or dad can take it to the bank and add it to the vacation savings account. This is a fun way for kids to participate and feel like they are involved in saving for the vacation.

You can also implement a reward system for saving money. Maybe you normally order pizza for the kids every Friday night as a special treat. Make a deal with them to trade their pizza night for a family game night where they all pick their favorite game to play. Offer up other little things as rewards for saving money.

Make sure they know this money is going towards their family goal as well. They’ll feel good knowing they are a part of it.

Check in with everyone along the way, too. Little kids are easier to get excited, while your older kids might become bored or uninterested. Keep it exciting for them, too. Tell them they can choose an activity to do on your vacation if they give up something to save money.

Monitor Responses

I can give you all of the tips in the world, but the fact of the matter is that every family is different. A family means lots of personality and opinions melding together. There’s a good chance your family is very different from mine, and so the same tactics may not have the same responses.

Maybe your family ignores that vacation jar that sits on the kitchen counter, while my young kids feed it religiously. Maybe your family really does do better with a formal sit-down rather than an impromptu conversation after a night at the arcade.

The important thing to do is to follow up, ask for opinions, and pay close attention to the results. If you find your kids aren’t responding, try a different tactic. If your kids are older, you can go straight to the source and ask them how they would like to be better involved.

It’s all about paying attention, listening, and communicating. Use these three skills, and you’ll never go wrong!

Family Goals Make Families Thrive

Family is a big deal to a lot of people, so if there’s ever anything you can do proactively to help yours grow closer together, you should go after it! Setting goals has proven to deliver many benefits that will better your family’s communication, togetherness, trust, and all around happiness.

Who wouldn’t want benefits like that for their family?

Just remember to keep it fun, keep it family-oriented, and keep it organized. Setting goals doesn’t have to be an intimidating feat that your face on your own. Get your family involved and see the potential they have together.

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