In “Creating a Family Vision” I described how my husband, daughter and I spent part of our vacation in January creating vision board collages. We each thought about the day of our daughter’s high school graduation and then collected magazine images that reflected our feelings and dreams for our family. As promised, here’s what we did next.
After we’d shared our vision board collages, we ate dinner and then returned to the magazine-covered floor to continue creating a family vision.
We reviewed the list of words we’d written down as each of us talked about our vision board collages. Bold, over the top, party, humor, joy, travel, contentment…
“Our next step,” I said, “is to brainstorm how we would finish these three sentences.”
- We are…
- We believe…
- We want…
“We are…” is what makes our family unique.
“We believe…” is what we believe in and value.
“We want…” is what we want for our family over the next 8 years.
“So let’s start with ‘We are…’ What makes us unique?” I asked.
“We do vision boards,” my husband deadpanned.
When the two of them finished laughing at me we talked about what that really meant. Was that really unique? Probably, we agreed. So we put it on our list as “We are purposeful.”
And then a beautiful thing happened. Our daughter took us on a total tangent.
She said, “I want to ask about something. We are not religious. Can we talk about why?”
What followed was a rich and hugely important conversation that we hadn’t planned but that might never have happened if we hadn’t created this comfortable conversation space with our vision work.
My husband and I each shared our own conflicted experiences with organized religion and our respective families’ histories with religion. I started crying when I talked about how my grandmother’s church hadn’t let me speak at her funeral the previous year because I wasn’t an active member of that religion. Kate talked about her observations of her friends’ religions. David and I shared what we did believe in and told her we would be happy to support her if she wanted to explore any religions together as a family.
It was such a memorable and important conversation.
And it took us the rest of the evening. We didn’t get back to more brainstorming.
When I do this type of vision work for an organization, especially one that’s paying me, my job is in part to push to get it done in the time we have. No tangents please. No option to stop because we’re tired and finish next week. For families, the opposite approach applies. Take the tangents! Go where the conversation leads you! Families have the luxury of time. You can always return later to pick up where you left off. As contrary as it is to my “I need to finish what I started” nature, families are better off assuming that a vision process like this will take several sessions, perhaps over several months.
We picked up the conversation the next day on our last day of vacation. Here’s a sampling of some of our answers.
- in good friends and good food.
- in a good laugh.
- in stepping up to get it done.
- in family.
- to have dinner together most nights.
- to take 8 big trips together before Kate goes to college. (First stop, London this summer!)
- to spend time with family and friends in the Midwest.
We’re not quite done yet. Here’s where my “I need to finish what I started” compulsion pays off. I’ve calendared a time for our family to review what we did and turn it into something we can revisit regularly together. My husband and I have a date night on the calendar to finish up our annual 2011 New Year’s resolutions in light of the new vision. Might be spring break before we “finish” and I’ll share when we do, but wow, we’ve already gained so much in the process.