This is that time of year when people slow down just a little.  Over the holidays people eat a lot, hopefully see their family, and have some time to do a little introspection.

As well, this is also the time of year people make lofty promises about how they want to lose weight, quit smoking, be more disciplined, or even “make” themselves better people.

In some ways this time of reflection is therapeutic.  It forces us to look inward and backward, to consider if where we are in life is where we want to be.  If not, it provides the opportunity to do a little course correcting as we look forward.

A few years ago, Steph and I began the process of making goals…together.  In the past, I had made resolutions – or even goals – but they were often superficial or far-fetched, and very rarely did I talk about them with others.  It is in stark contrast to what we do today.

Yesterday, we got away for half the day to do our goals for 2011.  We started over lunch by discussing our goals, one by one, from 2010.  We high-fived the ones we accomplished, and sheepishly smiled at the ones we totally blew it on.  If you’d like to see our goals from last year, you can see them here (I took out specific numbers or names to keep a few things private.)  We then moved to Starbucks to start discussing the next year, and eventually polished them as we walked around the mall and talked.

As you set goals for this next year, include your family in that process.  Goals shouldn’t be reserved solely for sales quotas or general quarterly milestones.    If you’re unfamiliar with setting goals or making resolutions for the new year, here is a good post on that.

Here are a few reasons why setting goals together is a good thing:

1. It provides good, meaningful conversation. It’s tough to have good, deep discussion about life.  Our dates can be filled with the urgent matters in life as opposed to our discussing our hopes and dreams.  Sitting down with your spouse to reflect on the past year and prepare for the next really lends itself to safe, healthy dialogue.

2. It encourages “oneness.” We drift, easily.  Drifting is never good in marriage.  God’s desire in marriage is oneness, and by sitting down together, it is a great reminder you are on the same team.  Kind of like the old cliche’, “community happens by having a common unity.”

3. The discussion reveals things you might not otherwise see. This year, as we were discussing one of our daughters, my wife told me that she loves to be read to.  Now I consider myself an involved father, but this was new to me.  I knew this particular daughter has been getting into books, but her attention span is about 12 seconds.  My wife had some great insight for me that will help me connect with her moving forward.

4. It shows you what you can encourage in your spouse the next year. Last year, I set the goal of running a half-marathon.  The only problem is I hate running.  Because my wife knew I had set the goal, she could encourage me toward it.  By the end of last year, I ended up running 3 different races.  (And my wife didn’t even set that goal last year, but ended up running the last 2 races with me.)

As you will see in our goals from last year, we like to set goals in these areas:

  • Spiritual
  • Family
  • Social
  • Physical
  • Career
  • Self-Development
  • Financial

Don’t set too many, and don’t take too long.  Your first year, just go on a simple dinner date, and talk about different areas in life.  Put down some good goals to move forward in together.

As for our goals this year, I quite honestly just haven’t cleaned up the list we made yet.  Different from last year, we plan to discuss our goals at least once a month on a date.  We both agreed that last year too much time went by without us thinking about them.  We are learning each year as well.

Do you set goals as a family?  If so, what are some of yours?