All about our family goals (right now)

10 January 2023

The parenthetical portion of this post’s title felt important, because though this is a solid overview of what constitutes “family goals” in the life of our family right now (with a 7-, 4-, and 1-year-old), I guarantee they will evolve. Right now, our family goals are almost entirely parent-directed, but over time, I look forward to folding our kids into the process. And you know we will be encouraging our kids to set their own goals once they’re a bit older :)

But that day is not today. So let’s dive into what family goals look like for us right now!

How do we come up with our family goals?

At our end-of-year celebration dinner, one of the questions John and I discuss (after reviewing what went well and where we struggled in the past year), is “what are our goals for the year ahead?”

I’m usually in the middle of completing my PowerSheets Prep Work and finalizing my personal goals when we have our celebration dinner; all that the PowerSheets process has stirred up is fresh in my mind, and inevitably comes to bear on the conversation. In this way, though John and I don’t fill out PowerSheets together, they definitely play a part in our family goal setting.

Unlike my personal goals, which I land on after many hours of reflection and sometimes extensive hemming and hawing, setting our family goals is simple: we generally leave dinner with them in hand.

How do our family goals differ from my personal goals?

Our family goals are things that matter to both of us that we’d like to complete, achieve, or focus on in the year ahead. They fall into a few categories most years:

— Natural next steps of long-term goals we’re working toward
— Goals that John and I both feel led to pursue and that we will be pursuing jointly
— Goals that will have a noticeable impact on how our family spends our time
— Household “to dos” that will require our effort, money, or time. (Think: not particularly visionary or exciting, but they need to happen.)
— Fun things we want to prioritize that need extra visibility to happen. (Maybe we’ve struggled to follow through in the past, or they require more planning.)

We also usually throw John’s personal goals onto the family goals list, because he only has a few and doesn’t require a fancy planner to make progress on them :)

Overall, our family goals are ones that involve a significant amount of John’s and my, or our entire family’s, energy, buy-in, time, and/or money. My personal goals, on the other hand, mostly involve my own effort and time, and don’t really need anyone else’s buy-in.

How do we stay accountable to our family goals?

While I use a somewhat elaborate system to break down and track my personal goals, we go super simple with our family goals: we stick them to the fridge :) In the days after our end-of-year dinner, I’ll type them up and print them out. (This is a good chance to review them one more time and make sure we didn’t forget anything.) Then, they go on the fridge, where they’ll stay for the rest of the year.

It sounds simple (and it is), but it’s effective. We both see them every day, which keeps them top of mind. We’ll often talk while standing in the kitchen, so it’s easy to chat through a next step or remind each other of a goal that’s coming up since the list is right there. As you’ll see below, our family goals do tend to be more specific, which makes them easy to live out – they either don’t really need to be broken down any further, or the steps to break them down are naturally clear.

Finally, I would add that we take our family goals seriously, but we hold them lightly. Yes, we want them to get done, but neither of us are the type to stress out about whether or not they get accomplished. We know we’re moving in the right direction and that what most needs to get done will get done. Progress, not perfection :)

Are our kids involved in setting our family goals?

At their current ages (7, 4, and 1), they are not – John and I set them on a date night. I fully expect we will involve them more in the future, but for now, it’s just the two of us.

June did peruse the list after it went up on the fridge and let us know she thought they were “good goals,” so at least we have her approval :)

What are our family goals for this year?

I’ve organized them into the categories above and added a little explanation where helpful!

Natural next steps of long-term goals:
— Increase giving to Home Free by X amount. “Home Free” is what we’ve dubbed our mortgage fund account. When we set our budget for 2023, we decided to increase the amount we’re transferring to it each month. It’s been three years since I last shared about our mortgage plan and I think we might be due for an update, because we’ve been in talks about changing our strategy

Joint goals:
— Eat more fish. We very occasionally eat shrimp and almost never eat fish at home, and we’d like to change that. Recipe or preparation recommendations welcome in the comments!
— Stretch nightly and increase flexibility. We were in a great rhythm of doing a 10-minute Peloton stretch together before we went to bed each night, but John’s injury and Annie’s birth knocked us off course. It feels SO good when we’re consistent, plus it has other benefits, like helping us get to bed on time and at the same time.
— Complete 5000/6000 Peloton minutes. After trying out several different strategies over the past few years, we’ve found that tackling our workout goals together – and for the most part, working out at the same time – is most effective for us. Happy to write more about this if it’s of interest!

Goals that will impact how our family spends our time:
— Begin piano lessons for June. I am equal parts nervous about and excited for this. I am sure we’ll unpack this on the blog at some point in the future.
— Enjoy monthly kid dates. We are scaling up the frequency and scaling down the expense/logistics for these after our inaugural year in 2022. John and I will each take one of the older kids to do something solo each month, swapping kids each month. Think: going on a bike ride, going to get bagels or ice cream.
— Swim lessons for older kiddos.
— Have a family over for dinner every month. One of my personal goals that will require the whole family’s buy-in!
— Adjust to 3 day/week rhythm. We recognize that my shifting time away from work will have ramifications on our family life, and set this goal as a reminder to stay in tune as this change rolls out.

Household to dos:
— Paint master bath cabinets.
— Pressure wash the patio.
— Update our legacy box. This also appears on my personal goals, as the portions that will fall under my purview will require dedicated effort.

John’s personal goals:
— Read the Bible. He is following BibleProject’s One Story that Leads to Jesus plan and usually listens to the scripture/watches the videos while getting ready for bed.
— Reach first rung of compensation ladder. This is for his variable compensation at work.

Fun things we want to prioritize:
— Camp in backyard. This is super simple, but just complicated enough that it’s easy for it not to happen (and it didn’t happen in 2022, which earned it a spot on this year’s list).
— Play more tennis on weekdays. We did this once after my work hours changed, and it was an absolute delight. More of this in 2023!
— Go to a Duke game. Because we live too close to Durham for us to have gone so long without seeing a game :)

I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about our family goals! And I’d love to hear if you set family goals, or your kids set goals, or if you plan to do either in the future.

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January 10, 2023 7:29 am

I love the simplicity and power of putting your family goals on the fridge! Eating more fish is on our list as well. We buy the frozen sockeye from Whole Foods when it’s on sale and prepare with lots of fresh dill, lemon slices, salt, pepper, and occasionally a little saffron from Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious! We also sometimes use hot madras curry powder when we want something different. Our goal is twice a week. I’m excited to hear more about piano for June. We have done various things for piano, and have found a good rhythm right now. I will share with you when I see you!

January 10, 2023 9:51 am

Thanks for sharing your family goals! We have done similar with a list on the fridge, but once my oldest could write (my kids are 6 and 8) we now do a giant poster on the back of my previous year’s wall calendar from work. We do a mix of things we are looking forward to (a spring break trip to Legoland) and goals we need to remember to work on little by little (riding a two-wheeler and cooking a meal independently). We brainstorm ideas as a family (with help from me…a lot of goals are a subset of mine like biking together as a family and raising independent, responsible kids). They draw pictures with each goal and love checking things off. It is not pretty (though this year’s improvement was using Sharpies, so no smearing!) but I hope I am setting them up with skills to thoughtfully create a life they love!

January 10, 2023 10:39 am
Reply to  Kristin

This is so fun! It makes me excited for this stage of life with littles!

January 10, 2023 10:37 am

Our whole family — even the reluctant fish eaters — loves parmesan crusted salmon! Usually just melted butter, panko, seasoning, and parmesan cheese mixed together on top of the filets before cooking. It’s simple and yummy enough to make it on the menu a few times each month. :)

January 10, 2023 11:06 am

After reading about your end of the year celebration years ago, my husband and I have been diligently going on our own end of the year date for the last few years! We just had a baby in the fall so I’m excited to see how our own family goals will evolve in coming years.
I have two fish recipes I’m so passionate about right now, I’m going to share both!
First, this salmon recipe I found on Ivy Odom’s (of Southern Living :) ) Instagram stories… we’ve had this on repeat the last couple months! This is for 2 8oz salmon filets so you may have to mess with the ratios: 2 tsp. dijon, 2 tbsp brown sugar (1 works just fine though), 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder and smoked paprika. Pat the salmon dry, then smear the dijon on each piece of salmon. Mix the remaining spices in a small bowl. Cover each piece with the spices and pat them firmly. Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes. This is yummy with all sorts of sides — broccoli, rice, sweet potatoes, butternut squash…
Second, I just made this for the first time last night: Fish tacos with strawberry slaw. I cooked tilapia in a skillet with a little cajun seasoning but you can really do whatever you want… the strawberry slaw is the star of the show!

January 10, 2023 11:41 am

Thank you for sharing these – insightful as always! I have nothing to add except for a fish recipe (which seems like a popular topic, considering the comments!) I make Pinch of Yum’s BBQ Salmon at least 1-2x / month. So easy, delicious and fish-apathetic husband approved :)

January 18, 2023 1:29 pm
Reply to  Kensington

I was just about to comment the same recipe! A recent find but already in the dinner rotation.

January 10, 2023 12:01 pm

We’ve been eating salmon once a week ever since my husband and I both got flagged for high cholesterol several years ago. I’ve tried a bunch of recipes but my go- to is to pan sear the filets (skin side up if it’s sockeye) for 2 minutes on the stove in a cast iron, flip, then transfer into a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Season/adorn however you like. :)

January 10, 2023 12:18 pm

I love these! My husband and I definitely have some shared goals but we don’t have them front and center anywhere, so I will have to print them out for us! Fish tacos are always an easy way to eat more fish and Gwyneth Paltrow had a sriracha salmon recipe that we love.

January 10, 2023 9:43 pm

Piano lessons are a great goal. My 8 year old started in August and has thrived at it and really loves practicing! We were so proud at his recital and he has the sweetest teacher. We use a keyboard for now and are on the lookout for a used upright. My 6 year old daughter just started and likes it so far! So far it’s been great for our family. ???? I really like the wild salmon from Costco. It’s a two pack and a good price. I usually bake it and just serve with rice and green veg. The canned salmon from there is good too.

January 10, 2023 11:52 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your family goals here, Emily! I am a inspired reader of your blog and I love seeing each new post, but I seldom join the conversation. When I saw your request for fish recipes, I had to jump in with one of my favorite ways to cook frozen salmon fillets. :) Thaw as many pieces as you need, then lay them out, skin-side-down, in a foil-lined baking dish. Drizzle the top of each piece generously with honey, then season generously with salt, black pepper, and chili powder. The fish should pretty much be covered with the seasonings…like you may think you’ve gone overboard and it’s just right. :) Salmon is SO yummy like this! I hope you’ll enjoy it if you give it a try. Happy New Year!

January 11, 2023 9:32 am

My one fish tip is DO NOT COOK ON THE STOVE TOP! It’s pretty much a house rule that we only ever grill or bake/broil fish after a very smelly incident pan frying cod. Oh my goodness. Everything in the house smelled fishy. I could smell it in my work cubicle coat cubby. We went on a trip and could smell the cod when we opened our suitcases to unpack. It was BAD. Don’t be smelly like us! :)

Kelly Strawberry
January 11, 2023 8:02 pm

I have no fish recipes sadly because my husband won’t go near it and cannot even stand the smell of seafood. It is my favorite type of food!!! The sacrifices we make in marriage :)

Duke basketball?! Why have you never told me this!!!! Sadly you missed out on Coach K but Cameron is still an amazing experience, and my son’s namesake. ;) If you need tickets to a game let me know and I can try to work some magic.

January 12, 2023 9:17 am

Love this post! 1) I started “mom dates” with my older two boys once my oldest started kindergarten–the same year my third was born. Those two factors made me really feel the need for quality one-on-one time. I now do them once a month with each of my three oldest boys (my youngest gets a bit more time with me across the board). Parenting day to day can be wearing at times, but mom dates always remind me of the joy each of my children brings. 2)My second son set a goal of doing one random act of kindness each week; my third son set a goal of reading the entire Dogman series on his own. 3)I would love an updated post regarding your mortgage approach!