6 Steps for Successful Family Goal Setting

by Spero Financial

When you think about goal setting, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you probably think about personal objectives like weight loss, spending habits, educational endeavors, and self-improvement exercises. That makes sense since working toward a goal requires self-discipline. But what about goal setting for a group — more specifically, what about goal setting for your family?

Now, you might be wondering, why would I set goals with my family? Wouldn’t it be easier if each family member just focused on accomplishing their personal goals? Sure, it might be easier. But even if your family winds up as a collection of exceptional individuals, you miss out on the unique bond that develops when a group of people work together to achieve a common goal.  

We hope this simple list of goal-setting suggestions will set your family up for success — and help you make some wonderful memories along the way.

1. Make it fun.

Between homework, work responsibilities, and household chores, your family already has plenty to do. Nobody wants another assignment. If you’re going to get buy-in from every family member, keep things fun! If your children are young, turn goal setting into a game or talk about family goals while treating them to their favorite dessert. If your little ones aren’t so little any more, give them a little more say in determining the goals and the rewards. Ask any teenager, and they’ll tell you that choosing what to do is infinitely better (and more fun) than being told what to do. 

2. Find what you’re doing well.

Start your planning on a high note. Even though goal setting is ultimately about doing things better, your family is most likely doing some things well already. Highlight those positives before moving on to future goals. Are your kids keeping their room clean? Let them know you notice. Does everybody pitch in to help with making dinner and cleaning up afterward? High-fives all around! By shining a light on what your family is doing well, you lay a foundation of encouragement that you can build on.

3. Identify necessary changes.

By definition, a goal is a result you haven’t achieved yet or an outcome you want to see in the future. This could mean the elimination of bad habits or the introduction of good ones. Ask each family member to point out something they would like to accomplish together. Then, after compiling a list that includes input from everyone, go through the options, and ask for feedback. Based on family responses, you should be able to determine which goals should receive top priority. Once you’ve identified the most beneficial goals, you can start making plans for how to accomplish them. 

4. Think short-term for long-term success.

In the game of goal setting, momentum is key. By setting short-term goals, you give yourself the opportunity to get some quick wins under your belt, which gives you the confidence you can accomplish the bigger goals on your list. For example, football coaches who want to win every game of the season give their teams a goal of going 1-0 each week. Every win gets them one step closer to the ultimate goal. If you want to save money for a family cruise a year from now, set a goal to save $100 in the first month — and celebrate when you do. If you want to participate in a community service project as a family, ask each family member to submit three suggestions for the project. Then, when all the submissions are in, make a big deal about the fact that did exactly what you set out to do. Success breeds success. 

5. Be SMART.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Corporate trainers and self-improvement gurus have used this quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for decades, but it can be just as helpful for your family’s goals, whether you’re saving for vacation or planning family dinners. If you’re going to make your family goals a reality, you’re going to need a plan that is Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, and Timely (SMART). Let’s use the previous example of saving for a family cruise. Rather than “saving for a cruise,” choose a goal such as “save $3,000 for a family cruise.” By attaching a number to your goal, you make it specific and measurable. To reach your goal, you’ll need to set aside money on a regular basis, which makes it action-based. Whether this example is realistic depends on factors such as income, expenses, etc. But for the sake of this example, let’s assume your family earns $60,000 per year. In that instance, $3,000 is a realistic savings goal. Last, but not least, you’ll want to set a deadline. If you wait until you have $3,000 saved to plan your cruise, it may never happen. If you decide to save the funds within one year, you give yourself a sense of urgency and a definite time frame to measure your progress.

6. Follow up.

It’s exciting to set new goals. It’s also thrilling to accomplish those goals. You know what’s not as fun? All the days in between. Working toward your long-term goals will require consistency and commitment. It will also call for occasional progress reviews. If you’re falling behind or getting off track, you’ll want to identify that sooner rather than later. And while you may be tempted to assess your progress without bothering your family, follow-up meetings give you the perfect opportunity to re-energize everyone’s commitment. And if you’re wondering how to go about that, just review steps 1-5 again. Make it fun. Celebrate what your family is doing well. Point out any changes that need to be made. Double down on short-term activities to reach long-term goals. And last, but not least, make sure your family goals are still SMART. Follow this process at regular intervals, and you’ll increase your family’s chances of successfully achieving the goals you set together. 

10 Family Goal Examples 

If you love the idea of family goal setting but aren’t sure where to start, here’s a list of suggestions to help spark your creativity:

  • Create a family calendar
  • Save for an annual family vacation
  • Plan healthy meals 
  • Assign individual household chores
  • Plant a family garden
  • Choose a volunteer service project
  • Begin a new family tradition
  • Enjoy device-free dinners together
  • Visit somewhere new each month
  • Start planning a family reunion

Whether you choose some of the goals listed above or come up with a few of your own, our team is cheering you on! If any of your goals are money-related, we’re ready to help you achieve them. Whether you want to create a budget, set aside money for a vacation, or save for retirement, we offer the financial tools and services you need. Call us or stop by your nearest Spero branch location to speak with one of our member service representatives.

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