You may be familiar with the idea of articulating a vision if you come from the corporate world. This concept is also valuable for families. After all, you have many “remote workers” who are connected in some form or another, who love and care about each other, and who are all pursuing their own endeavors. Sort of like a national, or even international organization.
Vision gives an overarching framework to keep family members connected.
A Family Vision Statement is rooted in your shared values, interests and goals. Investing some time in a Vision Statement can help you to lead your family in embracing the positive and discarding the negative by focusing on a bigger picture.
Through my own family’s Vision Statement, we discovered our common ground: a family culture centered on “Teaching-And-Learning.” (See our sample vision statement below).
How to Write a Vision Statement
In an online article in Psychology Today, corporate strategist Jennell Evans defines Vision Statements in organizational terms that are easily adaptable to our family organizations:
An effective Vision Statement
- defines the optimal desired future state – the mental picture – of what an organization wants to achieve over time;
- provides guidance and inspiration as to what an organization is focused on achieving in five, ten, or more years;
- functions as the “North Star” – it is what all stakeholders understand their work every day ultimately contributes towards accomplishing over the long term; and,
- is written succinctly in an inspirational manner that makes it easy for all stakeholders to repeat it at any given time.
The “Three-Pronged” Statement
A popular format for characterizing your family’s vision (or mission or ethos) is the three-pronged statement. Here’s the template, courtesy of the website “Families with Purpose”:
“TO (do something)…
/IN SUCH A WAY THAT (quality of action)…
/SO THAT (we gain these results or benefits).”
Polly Schlafhauser, founder and president of Families With Purpose (an online resource for parents seeking to create “an authentic family life for themselves and their children”) characterized her own family’s strong ethos via a three-pronged statement on the organization’s website:
“TO realize our dreams, goals, and aspirations as a family and as individuals… IN SUCH A WAY THAT stretches our intellect, enriches our Christian faith, strengthens our character and enriches our family life. … SO THAT we are fulfilled, happy, confident, and always close.”
To assist other families seeking to craft their own statements, Schlafhauser deconstructed the statement’s three parts:
“TO”… is where you declare the action. What specific steps or actions are you going to take? What are the specific efforts you are going to make as a family? In our example, the action is “to realize our dreams, goals, and aspirations as a family and as individuals” Others may be “to communicate more effectively” or “to learn new things and new cultures.”
“IN SUCH A WAY THAT”… represents the quality of your action. In what manner are you going to accomplish it? In a way that gets you what you want no matter what, and in the fastest way possible – or one that nurtures your spirit, lets you be creative, grow individually and together? Our statement ensures that every action we take to “realize our dreams and goals” is going to be done in a manner that allows us to learn new things, deepens our faith, makes our family life better, and makes us better people.
“SO THAT”… is where you capture the results of your actions. What do you want to come out of all of this? Strong, independent kids? Successful and happy adults? Closer relationships? The priorities here are to be “fulfilled, happy, confident, and always close.” © 2013 Families With Purpose LLC (with permission)
Another Approach to Vision Statements
You may not wish to confine yourself to the three-pronged template. On her website, The Relationship Resource, blogger Amy Marshall, RN, expressed her family’s Vision this way:
“We are a family who believes that relationships matter most! We value spending time together and we endeavor to be the primary caregivers of our children. We hold each member of our family accountable for responsible behavior. We support each other in our individual pursuits of personal and professional interests. We cheer each other on. We laugh whenever possible. We hold our marital relationship as a top priority because this relationship serves as the foundation of our family.”
Marshall pointed out that their Vision Statement has become “an ideal…to live up to,” and even a problem-solver:
“For example, we often revisit the major financial decision, whether to buy a new vehicle or continue cramming into our old small sedan. After briefly fantasizing about all-wheel drive and enough trunk space for a stroller and the groceries, we remind ourselves that space is a luxury that our budget doesn’t allow for right now given our decision to sacrifice my regular, dependable, work scenario for a stay-at-home parent scenario. Decisions have become simpler, easier to make, and more comfortable to accept as they have been created in the context of our family vision that was crafted in the interest of our authentic family ideals.”
Your Family’s Turn
A Family Vision can be approached in many ways. It’s just worth trying to have one, to light your way. While I’d like to say that we spent a bucolic afternoon crafting this vision together, Good “Ol Grandad” (that’s me!) did the bulk of the writing. However, once written, this fostered richly deep conversation among the family that has had a lasting, meaningful impact. (You can see our Family’s Vision Statement below).
Our Family Vision Statement
IN SUCH A WAY THAT
The Witkovsky Family Vision
This family can be:
- our launch pad… where we soar from in exploration; where we return, again and again, to share treasures amassed through growth and risk-taking; where we go forth to better our own lives and the lives of others.
- our safe haven… where we can share our hopes and dreams, and trust that they will never be minimized or belittled; where we can fail but are never made to feel like failures.
- our wellspring… where love is nurtured and nurtures in return; our sustenance in times of both joy and sorrow, its capacity continually replenished – even enlarged – by healthy conflict and vigorous debate.
- our spiritual refuge… where we can retreat to sort out confusion and heal from pain, in an atmosphere of tenderness and understanding.
- our support system… where we are comfortable asking for and receiving help; where we mobilize our collective assets (knowledge and insights, talents and love) to steadfastly aid each other in meeting life’s challenges.
- our anchor… where a profound sense of belonging becomes the strong and steady center of our being.
- our roots and wings… where communal responsibility is cherished and individual freedom is celebrated.